All these anthems celebrate freedom. Freedom, that the people in the GDR fought for in 1989. Thirty years after this historical event we tend to forget the courage of those who took the lead at the time; and we forget the immediate cause of the uprising in Berlin, Leipzig and other cities in the former GDR: the rigged local elections of May 1989. The people demanded the truth being published and they demanded freedom.
So, let us not forget the lesson of 1989: desire for freedom and truth defeats lies, fake news, oppression. All these negatives symbolized in the Berlin Wall. And we are proud that we celebrate today the FALL of a wall, not the building of one.
Since then, the role of Germany as the geographic heart of Europe has grown, as has the importance of the European Union. That is why we also listened (and hopefully sang along) to the European Anthem. The European Union is for us nowadays a second home land.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall is today more than ever an event that teaches us important lessons. Many people in many parts of the world have to fight for freedom today, against the challenges from outside and from inside our societies. These challenges have in common that they want us to believe that liberal democracies are on the decline and that some kind of autocratic leadership is the better option. Coming from Ukraine, I do know how the battle between authoritarianism and liberal democracy looks like.
Germany and the US stand for liberal democracy, starting 70 years with the Berlin Airlift. Since then, the US have always been our major supporter as it was obvious 30 years ago when President Bush advocated for German unity. We will not forget this.
With our campaign Wunderbar Together with around 2000 events all over the country, we documented these shared values and interests. With an emphasis on the German Heritage in the Midwest and the Bauhaus connection in Chicago, we were able to add specific regional elements to this campaign.
It is regrettable that these shared values and interests are put into question nowadays. All the more important it is, to stand together and defend them. I am grateful to you all for coming today to celebrate the friendship and the shared values between our countries.
I have now the pleasure to introduce our guest of honor: Ulla Schmidt.
She is a very well-known politician in Germany as former Minister for Health and Vice-President of the Parliament. Today she visits Chicago in her capacity as Member of the Committee on Foreign Cultural Relations to witness some of the last events in the framework of the German Cultural Year in the US Wunderbar Together. She will travel further to Milwaukee, Detroit and New York for more of these events. I now give the floor to Ulla Schmidt, MP.