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Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

  • Fern Robinson

German President Joachim Gauck (R) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) meet wellwishers in the streets of Frankfurt, Germany, October 3, 2015. Germany's political leaders celebrate the country's 25th anniversary since the reunification of East and West Germa

German President Joachim Gauck (R) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) meet wellwishers in the streets of Frankfurt, Germany, October 3, 2015. Germany's political leaders celebrate the country's 25th anniversary since the reunification of East and West Germa

Germany is celebrating 25 years of reunification Saturday.

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited. Berlin is holding a street party Saturday at the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of German unity.

The reunified Germany has emerged as a European leader and economic powerhouse, headed by two politicians who grew up in East Germany — Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck. Merkel was a scientist in East Germany, while Gauck was a pastor and a pro-democracy activist.

Germany's national day observance comes as the country is facing two of its most daunting issues in recent times — the arrival of a record number of migrants and Volkswagen's global cheating scam.

Migrants

Merkel has said Germany will take in 800,000 migrants and has urged other European countries to take in the people who are fleeing war and poverty. Her critics in Germany and other countries have voiced misgivings about integrating the migrants into European society and the workforce. Merkel has been steadfast in her position that the newcomers should be welcomed wholeheartedly.

FILE - A migrant takes a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside a refugee camp near the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees after registration at Berlin's Spandau district, Germany, Sept. 10, 2015.

FILE - A migrant takes a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside a refugee camp near the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees after registration at Berlin's Spandau district, Germany, Sept. 10, 2015.

"The experiences of Germany unification give us the feeling and the confidence that we can deal successfully with the tasks that face us, however big they are," Merkel said this week. " That also goes for the Herculean task that moves us at the moment and demands a national effort of us: the many, many people who are seeking shelter with us in Europe and Germany."

The chancellor's unwavering support for the migrants has prompted speculation that she may receive this year's Nobel peace prize.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said "greed" was the root cause of the Volkswagen scandal. "Everyone wants to be the biggest," he said. "It's the lust for fame, for recognition." The iconic automaker allegedly rigged diesel engine emissions test results, a measure that has affected millions of VW owners worldwide. The fallout has yet to be felt in Germany where one in seven Germans rely on the auto industry for their jobs.

Berlin Wall

Last year, Germany marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Built in 1961, the wall divided the city for nearly three decades. It also separated Soviet-controlled East Germany from West Germany, which was occupied by the Americans, French and British at the end of World War II.

People stroll past and take pictures next to the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) along the East Side Gallery, the largest remaining part of the former Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 9, 2014.

People stroll past and take pictures next to the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) along the East Side Gallery, the largest remaining part of the former Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 9, 2014.

The 161-kilometer barrier was designed to keep residents inside East Germany from fleeing to the West. It divided streets and neighborhoods and tore apart families and friendships.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is celebrated on November 9. It was a critical moment in the collapse of communism.

East and West Germany formally reunited the next year.

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