St. Thomas Plans Events Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of German Reunification

The University of St. Thomas will celebrate the 25th anniversary of German reunification with a series of lectures and films, as well as an essay contest, soccer tournament and even a cooking class.

The opening reception and lecture, by German Consul General Herbert Quelle, will be held from 2-3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, in the third-floor Hearth Room of Anderson Student Center on the university’s St. Paul campus.

The talk, sponsored by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Program of St. Thomas’ Modern and Classical Languages Department, is free and open to the public.

Herbert Quelle

Herbert Quelle

Quelle, a diplomat for the past 35 years and the Chicago-based German consul general since July 2014, will discuss the path to German unity and its effects on the world over the past quarter century. In addition to the United States, Quelle has served in South Africa, Cuba, Poland, the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan.

The second lecture, by Dr. Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, in James B. Woulfe Hall of the Anderson Student Center.

The lecture is preceded by a reception starting at 6 p.m. The reception is open to the public but registration is required and the cost is $20. St. Thomas students may attend the reception for free, but need to show their ID and to register beforehand. Registration information can be found here. This event is hosted and sponsored by the St. Thomas German Program and Department of Modern and Classical Languages in partnership with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Washington, D.C., the German-American Heritage Inc., Germanic-American Institute and the German-American Chamber of Commerce.

Engel will discuss “The Reunification of Germany, the United States, and the Power of Time.” Engel is an expert on the U.S. presidency and American diplomatic history. He has authored or edited six books, including The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989, published by Oxford University Press in 2009. He is regularly featured as an expert on major news networks.

It was on Oct. 3, 1990, that East and West Germany, which were divided after World War II, were reunited into one nation.

“Only a year prior to the reunification, nobody thought that the (Berlin) Wall would ever come down or the end of the Cold War would be in sight and therefore an end of the post-war area as we know it, would be imaginable,” said Dr. Susanne M. Wagner. Now director of St. Thomas’ German Program, Wagner was living in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“The fall of the Berlin Wall was a major turning point that affected not only Germany and Europe but vast areas of the rest of the world,” she said. “The following reunification created a new Europe while establishing better ties with allies such as the United States. The division of East and West was a tangible and psychological barrier and its dissolution is a symbol of freedom and peaceful revolution leading to a long-awaited reunification.”

Last fall, St. Thomas hosted a series of events celebrating 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. While most of the wall was removed in 1990, it was on Nov. 9, 1989, that the East German government announced that its citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. The historic announcement led eventually to German reunification.

The five films selected for the fall series are in German and have English subtitles. All will be shown from 7-9 p.m. in Room 203 of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center. The films and dates are:

  • Monday, Oct. 12: "Westwind" (Germany, 2011, more information here.)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 20: "Der Turm" ("The Tower") (Germany, 2012, more information here.)
  • Monday, Nov. 2: "Die Architekten" ("The Architects") (East Germany, 1990, more information here.)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 10: "Chiffriert an Chef – Ausfall Nr. 5" ("Code for Boss: Sorty No. 5") (East Germany, 1979, more information here.)
  • Tuesday, Dec. 1: "Das Leben der Anderen" ("Lives of Others") (Germany, 2006, more information here.)

The essay competition, on the theme of “25 Years of Germany Unity,” is sponsored by the German embassy in Washington, D.C. The deadline to submit an essay is Dec. 1. More information can be found here.

The soccer tournament will be held Thursday, Oct. 15, on the university’s St. Paul campus. The tournament is open to the St. Thomas community and teams are expected from the German, Spanish and Italian language programs. More information is here.

The cooking class will be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Germanic-American Institute, 301 Summit Ave., St. Paul. Katrin Erdmann, head of catering at the institute, will teach participants how to cook traditional regional German foods. The cost, $20, includes food and beverages. Space is limited to 20 participants and registration information can be found here.

Information about all of the 25th anniversary events can be found here.