As Vladimir Putin makes moves to retake parts of Easter Europe it is helpful to remember that on this day in 1990 representatives from the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union signed an agreement giving up all occupation rights in Germany. This mostly symbolic act created a way for East and West Germany to reunite.
In 1945, the Allied Powers agreed that defeated Nazi Germany would be divided into four zones of occupation, one for each nation. Berlin would be likewise divided. The separation was intended to be temporary, but the Cold War quickly developed after World War II and the division between the Russian zone and those controlled by the other three nations became permanent. Yet, by 1989, the communist grip on East Germany was rapidly slipping away. The Soviet Union, facing its own severe economic and political problems, could do little to prop up the East German communist regime. In November 1989, the East German government announced that the Berlin Wall would be torn down. On September 12, 1990, representatives from the four nations met in Moscow and formally gave up all remaining occupation rights in Germany. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze declared, “We are going through emotional and historic events. We have drawn a line under World War II and we have started keeping the time of a new age.” How soon the old Soviet leaders forgot. Yet, in October 1990, East and West Germany formally reunited under a democratic government after the popular uprising and the tearing down of that infamous Wall.
The country where my immigrant relatives came from was reunited. It seemed as though the end of the Cold War had arrived. Peace is an alluring and often short-lived notion in this world. The United Nations is mostly a fictional organization. We live now with the reality of another dictatorial prototype pressing into sovereign territory and even NATO doesn’t know what to do to stop Putin and his advancing insurgent army. They may not be goose stepping into Ukraine but it is close.
Jesus told us that there would be wars and rumors of wars for humanity. Until our hearts are changed we will face all kinds of violence. Sectarian, Religious, Nationalistic, and Imperialistic ideas remain dangerous. At one time we even thought that slavery had been abolished, yet, slavery is alive and even thriving in the world. We need an abolition of war movement among the people of the world. Just as the “Wall” which separated Germany was torn down, let us tear down the wall that seperates humanity. Peace will not come through weakness but a strong resolve to stand strong for the value of human dignity and freedom. These are the principals we are called to defend.
“And He shall judge between the nations and shall decide [disputes] for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2:4