Merkel thanks Eastern Europeans for fall of Berlin Wall
Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, was speaking to her Christian Democratic Union at commemorations marking the Wall's collapse.Berlin -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday thanked Eastern Europeans 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, saying that the joyous moment would not have been possible without them.
"We would like to thank the peoples of Eastern Europe who peacefully liberated themselves from the yoke of Soviet dictatorship and opened the Iron Curtain," she said.
Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, was speaking to her Christian Democratic Union at commemorations marking the Wall's collapse as well as the 60th anniversary of the founding of the German federal republic.
"We would like to thank the American pilots and the Polish shipyard workers, just to name two groups," she said, referring to the US-led Berlin Airlift that kept the city alive during a Soviet blockade from 1948 to1949 as well as Lech Walesa's historic anti-communist Solidarity trade union in the 1980s.
"If they had not risked their lives, we would not be gathered here today," she said. "We celebrate this historic state of happiness," noting that Germany was now surrounded on all sides by "free neighbours."
Germany has planned celebrations throughout the year marking the fall of the despised Wall in a peaceful revolution, culminating on the anniversary, November 9.