It wasn’t just Berlin that was divided by a Wall during the Cold War, the inner-German border also ran through the village of Mödlareuth on the Thuringian-Bavarian border. The Thuringian eastern side of the village was occupied by the Soviets, while the Bavarian western part was in the American occupation zone. From 1952, the people of Mödlareuth were not able to legally pass through the border between the two parts of the village. Twelve years later, a concrete wall set the seal on the village’s division. Families were separated and countless residents forced to relocate when their houses were bulldozed.
On 9 December 1989, exactly a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the border crossing in Mödlareuth was re-opened. The US soldiers stationed in the region christened the village “Little Berlin”. US Foreign Minister Pompeo has his own ties to the area as he served as a US Army tank commander near Bamberg in the 1980s.
America’s role in German reunification
It is at this special place that Foreign Minister Maas is today meeting his US counterpart Mike Pompeo. Afterwards, they will head to Leipzig where the two foreign ministers will visit inter alia St Nicholas Church, the cradle of the peaceful revolution. In Halle, they will remember the victims of the recent attack and together make a stand against anti-Semitism and violence.
Just before the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, the special role played by the United States to bring about reunification and promote democracy in Germany underpins the talks, for it is not without good reason that then US President George Bush Senior is known as one of the architects of German unity.
Germany and the United States need to work together on global policy
International crises will also play a role in the talks between the two foreign ministers, such as the conflict in Syria and the first meeting of the Constitutional Committee last week, international disarmament, the implementation of the Minsk agreements in the Ukraine conflict and the situation in Afghanistan. On all these issues, it is important that Germany and the United States cooperate, and do so in a multilateral framework.
The North Atlantic Treaty between the United States and Europe is a cornerstone of this multilateral order. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is also in Berlin for the anniversary celebrations and held talks with Foreign Minister Maas this very morning.
Even though transatlantic relations are currently being put to the test time and again, paying tribute to the momentous days of 1989 can provide an opportunity to reach out and remember what Europe and the United States share, namely the belief in fundamental values such as democracy, freedom and the rights of the individual.
At the end of the Deutschlandjahr USA, Foreign Minister Maas made plain:
We want people on both sides of the Atlantic to realise that the United States remains Europe’s most important ally.