Public Papers

Remarks at the Proclamation Signing Ceremony for German-American Day


President Bush. In the first place, it's a great pleasure always to welcome Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher to the Oval Office. We've had many, many conversations since I've been President, and I value his counsel and his friendship. And welcome back, sir.

I am particularly pleased to see so many guests from the new German states in the East, Hans-Dietrich telling me of your participation here including Minister-President Muench and other leaders from Saxon-Anhalt, Mayor Wagner of Dresden, and officials from Minister Genscher's hometown of Halle.

Let me also welcome leaders of the German-American community: Helmut Kruger, Elsbeth Seewald, and Adelbert Theune.

In a few moments I'll be signing this bill and proclamation commemorating German-American Day. And how fitting it is that this ceremony coincides with Germany Unity Day and the first anniversary of German unification. One year ago today, here at the White House, we joined our friends in Germany in celebrating the long-awaited reunification of their country. What a thrilling moment it was. I'll never forget it, and Americans that participated and saw it, they'll never forget it.

Today, one year after welcoming united Germany into the commonwealth of free nations, let me pay special tribute to our 17 million new German friends, those from the Eastern states of the former GDR, the German Democratic Republic.

We admire your courage in throwing off the shackles of a cruel ideology, and joining your brothers in the West in building a new Germany, whole and free. You are important new members of our transatlantic community, and part of the special bond between Germans and Americans.

Americans and Eastern Germans, you've been cut off from one another for more than two generations. And so, in signing the proclamation commemorating German-American Day, let me extend a very special, an extra special welcome to you, those who have come from the East. It is a great pleasure to be here. And I now turn the podium over to the Foreign Minister, and then we will get on with the signing. But welcome everybody.

Foreign Minister Genscher. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, today we are celebrating the tradition of German-American Day and the first anniversary of the unification of Germany. America stood by us in good times and in bad. During the unification process and during every phase of the two-plus-four talks, we knew that America was on our side. And we never will forget this, Mr. President.

We all know that without you, Mr. President, and without my friend, James Baker, German unity and freedom would not have been achieved last year. Though this very day is a day of gratitude for the German people to the people of the United States and to you personally, Mr. President, the sound of the Berlin Liberty Bell at midnight on the hour of unification was a moving symbol of this, one year ago.

Today, German-American Day is being celebrated in over 400,000 villages in your country. The Germans from the new federal states now have a share in the almost 100 sister city arrangement. Today, I'm particularly happy to present to you, Mr. President, the delegation from my home state, Saxon-Anhalt, headed by Minister-President Muench, and to introduce to you also the Mayor of the city of Dresden.

``We the people'' -- these are the opening words of the American Constitution which puts man's pursuit of happiness to the fore -- ``We are the people'' -- in this cause citizens everywhere in the former GDR wrought freedom and unity.

You, Mr. President, have now brought the world a step nearer to a new peaceful order which we all want. United Germany feels that it will be allied with the United States of America forever, a united Germany in Europe, whole and free. This, Mr. President, is our message to our American friends on German-American Day 1991, and on this first anniversary of the unification of Germany.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:20 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher; Werner Muench, Prime Minister of Saxon-Anhalt; Lord Mayor of Dresden Herbert Wagner; Helmut Kruger, president of the United German-American Committee; Elsbeth Seewald, president of the German-American National Congress; and Adelbert Theune, president of the Steuben Society. Foreign Minister Genscher referred to Secretary of State James A. Baker III. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.