Bush School students and the public enjoyed a presentation by the Honorable Emily Haber, German Ambassador to the United States, who touched on multiple topics in a speech and Q&A session with the audience. The July 1st presentation highlighted the pivotal role played by President George H. W. Bush in the reunification of Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, and East Germans for the first time peacefully streamed into West Berlin, German reunification was by no means a foregone conclusion,” Ambassador Haber said. “There were vested interests that did not want to see the two Germany’s reunited. It was most fortunate for German history that George H. W. Bush was the President of the United States at this critical juncture. It was he who recognized the historical moment. It was George H. W. 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.”
The Ambassador also recalled her own experiences growing up and living in a divided Germany, including her first visit to the wall as a child with her father, and the sense of permanence it exuded, even until just before it was torn down.
“In ’89 I came back just before the fall of the wall, and when it happened—when the wall actually fell—it wasn’t something I had imagined [possible] in my lifetime. Imagine: my father was a diplomat too, and for many years, he was head of the division in the German Foreign Ministry, which was called the division for reunification and Germany as a whole—[even] he hadn’t believed it could happen,” Ambassador Haber said to chuckles from the audience.
Bush School students in attendance were fascinated by the first-hand experience and power of the Ambassador’s reflections.
“One of the things I appreciate most about the Bush School is the constant flow of really incredible speakers and the insights they bring,” recent Master of International Affairs Bush School graduate Rebecca Schwarz said. “You learn about things like German re-unification and the fall of the Berlin Wall in class and in readings, but hearing about it from somebody who was serving in the West German government at the time really makes you understand how consequential it was for both Europe and the world as a whole.”
Following her speech, Ambassador Haber presented the Bush Presidential Library and Museum with a gift from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a photograph of world leaders next to a piece of the Berlin Wall taken two decades after its fall.
As the presentation concluded, students streamed up to the stage to admire the photograph and thank the Ambassador.
The Bush School, the Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and Texas A&M University together work to bring in noteworthy speakers year-round, an effort students and faculty view as an invaluable supplement to their educations.
“Since I’ve been at the Bush School, I’ve gotten to learn from and meet a huge number of significant people,” recent Master of International Affairs graduate Tyler Neves said. “A few months ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave an address to a huge audience on the A&M campus, but afterwards, he actually came out to the Bush School and did a Q&A with current students. That was definitely one of the highlights of my time here.”