Helfried Strauß Leipzig . Opening of the „Zeitzeichen“ exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts

Leipzig . Opening of the „Zeitzeichen“ exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts

Johannes Rau before the synod of the Protestant Church in Germany 09/11/99:

I spent the morning of 09 November 1989 in Berlin and the evening in Leipzig. Today, it’s the other way round. Today, I’m spending the morning in Leipzig and then going on to Berlin, and both are connected. I felt it was important for me to extend a word of welcome to the -Synod of the EKD on this of all days, because I do not want to – indeed, cannot – brush aside the memory of 9 November 1989. There had been an exhibition of GDR art in North Rhine-Westphalia, where I was prime minister at the time. We had been arguing for several years about whether we from North Rhine-Westphalia would be allowed to reciprocate by staging an -exhibition here. And indeed this exhibition, entitled ‘Time signals’, opened on 9 November 1989 in Leipzig’s opera house. The ‘Cappella Coloniensis’ provided the musical accompaniment. I was delivering a speech on matters of cultural policy when a slip of paper was handed to me, and there must be many of you here today who have been passed slips of paper at some time or other: “Remember to greet the mayor!” or that sort of thing. Sometimes it will say, “Please be more emphatic as your argument is weak!” On the slip of paper I was handed during the speech – I was just referring to the peculiarities of the Lippe region in terms of cultural policy – were the words, “The Wall is open.” I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t sure what it meant. I wasn’t sure if I should complete the speech, wind it up, read out the note? I will never forget it. I would have liked to have heard Brother Magirius addressing you today, because we spent the period between 09 and 12 November here together. Even today, I can’t help but continue to be amazed at how the people in Leipzig responded at that time; they hugged you, wept, asked what it meant and where it would lead. I hoped that we’d be able to keep alive some of that sense of expectancy about what the new situation could bring to us Germans. (Source: Greeting to the synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany in Leipzig, internet)