Bush Library Presented With Photo Honoring 41st President’s Role in German Reunification
The German ambassador to the United States, on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel, presented a photograph to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on Monday that pays tribute to the part the 41st president played in the reunification of Germany.
Ambassador Emily Haber called Bush a “great statesman and true friend” to Germany who Merkel wished to honor for his help facilitating the country’s reunification in 1990. The gift – a photograph of Bush standing before segments of the Berlin Wall beside former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s last leader – signifies Bush’s role as “one of the fathers” of German reunification, Haber said.
When the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989, Haber said, reunification wasn’t a foregone conclusion. There were many critical voices who did not want to see East and West Germany reunited, she said, and they could have prevailed had it not been for American leadership.
“It was most fortunate for German history that George H.W. Bush was the president of the United States at this critical juncture,” Haber said. “It was he who recognized the historical moment. It was George Bush who had the courage, the visionary thinking and the skill to seize the moment. And it was George Bush who was prepared to place trust in the German people.”
Warren Finch, director of the library and museum on the Texas A&M University campus, said records of the daily phone calls and memorandums between Bush and Kohl discussing how best to navigate a peaceful outcome are archived at the museum. The photograph presented by Haber depicts Bush, Kohl and Gorbachev during their last joint meeting in 2009 on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Haber said it’s one of five original copies of the photograph, one of which hangs in Merkel’s office. Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, told reporters following the 41st president’s death in December that had it not been for Bush, she “probably couldn’t be standing here.”
Haber said the reunification “wouldn’t have happened” had it not been for Bush’s approach to diplomacy that allowed for it to advance.
“This photo pays tribute to President Bush’s enduring legacy and deep bond of friendship with my country,” Haber said. “It could not have found a better home than in this presidential library and museum.”
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