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As their fellow citizens celebrated the end of a 45-year-long division, German students--as well as German scholars--at Harvard expressed enthusiasm and hope for the future as unification became official at 7 p.m. EDT last night.
At the Kennedy School of Government and elsewhere in the University, Germans and German scholars painted bright pictures of the future, while going out of their way to allay fears about unification.
"I certainly do not agree...that Auschwitz should forever deprive Germany of a unified nation-state," said Professor of History Charles S. Maier '60, who was speaking to a crowd of about 125 gathered at the Kennedy School. "You who will be responsible for this new state were not at Auschwitz."
"You should have what the rest of us have if you want it--and if you are prepared to recall why the rest of the West sometimes gets a bit uneasy about a German nation-state."[See story page 4.]
Maier went on to say that he thinks Germany's past may actually keep its future on track.
"The more the new Germany remembers the history of the old, the more I feel it will be a partner for peace and human values," he said. "Memory is a burden, but it is a humanizing burden."
Despite the optimism, several of those attending the forum discussed the likely problems the new Germany will face. Michael Bohm, a visitor from Schwerin (formerly East Germany), said that the transition will be especially tough for East Germans, who have become used to the state's free guarantee of health care, education and employment.
"Most of the poor people are not very happy [about reunification]," said Bohm. "They have freedom...but no money."
"Most people would say it isn't a day forparties."
And while Bohm said he thought unification isgood, he said it should have been delayed.
According to Bohm, East Germans "are not ableto see the positive things" of unification rightnow.
"If we had the possibility of [having] separatestates...it would be better. We have had only oneyear" to adjust.
Overall, however, optimism prevailed. As scenesof unification played on a television screen inthe background, many Germans excitedly discussedwhat role their nation would play in the newEurope.
Nicolaus Henke, a German national who receiveda Master's degree in public administration fromthe Kennedy School last spring, said that the newGermany can be a catalyst for what he called the"total integration of Europe."
Maier agreed, saying "Today Germany isEuropean. German young people have helped buildEurope, or even more generally, a Western liberalculture."
Among the most emotional appearances was aspeech by Angelika Voelkel, a German diplomat. Shetold more than 60 people in Adams House LowerCommon Room that the new Germany is symbolic ofthe new Europe.
"As Europe was divided and that division wasshown in Germany, so now Europe is united and thatunity is shown in Germany."
Some who attended the gathering at the KennedySchool expressed anxiety over the potential costof reunification, but most said that such concernswere overblown.
"There has been too much talk...about economicthings...and the value of objects," saidsecond-year M.P.A. candidate Wolfram Krohn, andnot enough about "the value of democracy, humanrights, and the rule of law."
And Maier told his audience not to worry toomuch, and to simply relish the moment.
"Tomorrow...you will have worries aboutintegrating your new country," Maier said. "Fortoday, enjoy the achievement.
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