2019 is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – a reason to celebrate! We asked Thomas Laubert, Daimler’s Chief Legal Officer and Group General Counsel, about his personal impressions of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany.
Mr. Laubert, if the fall of the Berlin Wall is considered from a social and legal point of view: What has changed for Germany?
It was a long way until this point: After the horrors of the Third Reich, and in view of Soviet-imposed communism, the western German zones of occupation accepted for the time being the offer of the western allies to form their own state in 1949. The Federal Republic of Germany created on this basis was seen as a provisional measure on the way to a solution for the whole of Germany. The fate of the GDR was finally sealed in 1989, with the mass exodus and flight of the population to the west.
The economic, currency and social union then came into effect one year later. Western German economic regulations now also applied in the eastern German regions, and the German mark became legal tender in the united Germany. A unification agreement of around 900 pages dated October 3 – juristically expressed – gave legal validity to the GDR's accession to the provisions of the constitutional law. Numerous adjustments affecting the justice system, administration, transport, postal service, education and culture completed the reunification of Germany.
What effects did the developments in 1989 and 1990 have for Daimler?
The unification of Germany not only opened up numerous sales opportunities for Daimler. The enlarged German automobile market led to new production locations, e.g. in Ludwigsfelde, where the former, state-owned IFA Kombinat Nutzfahrzeuge commercial vehicle plant became Nutzfahrzeuge Ludwigsfelde GmbH in cooperation with the former Daimler-Benz AG. Migration within Germany ensured an influx of specialist personnel in various Daimler locations, but also exacerbated social imbalances.
Regardless of the professional view of things: What was your personal experience of the time after reunification?
Unfortunately I was not in Berlin on the day when the wall fell, I “only” watched it happen on TV with my parents. The images were very moving, and everybody knew that something very special was happening.
However, there was another experience that also left its mark on me. At the time of reunification, I was employed in a law firm and frequently had professional assignments in the new federal states. For example we represented numerous citizens from the former GDR who had been cheated of their savings by fraudsters with dubious prize competitions and investment proposals. This was indicative of the complexity that reigned at the time, and has left an impression on me to this day.