Like many other places in the world, Brigham Young University spent Wednesday and Thursday celebrating the reunification of the Germanys, and on campus people really tried to bring it closer to home.
In addition to a patio full of German food and folk dancers as well as panel discussions on the political implications of the event, several people told students and faculty what it was like to be in Germany during the events that led to reunification.Andreas Ortlieb is a professional bassoonist from Schwerin, a town in the northern part of what used to be East Germany.
"We lived in a land where freedom of conscience was restricted," Ortlieb said. It was a time of "what I think I do not say and what I say I do not think."
As things changed during 1989, the feeling slowly spread from the south of the German Democratic Republic to the north.
Ortlieb said he remembers times when people from the north were not welcomed in the south. "But then we got involved," he said.
The churches in the country had a lot to do with the changes, he said. All people, Christian or not, politically active or not, were invited to participate in prayers for peace.
"They wanted change without violence," Ortlieb said. "I want you to understand how difficult it was for the people when the demonstrations for more freedom were broken up by violence."
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ortlieb said his leaders asked him not to be politically active. But "our hearts were on the streets," he said.
Garold Davis, a missionary for the LDS Church in Dresden during this time, said he also was caught up in the spirit.
When the Hungarian-Austrian border was opened in September 1989, one member of the LDS Church was in a position to cross the border, Davis said. But he chose to come back.
It is important to understand what their lives had been like, he said. "I realized that, before this time, going to Hamburg, Salzburg, Vienna or Paris was like going to Mars or Venus."
Kirsten Christensen was an intern at the American Embassy in East Berlin during 1989.
She said that once when she was crossing the border into West Berlin the differences really stood out.
One day Christensen talked with a woman at the train station who found out she was an American. "She began to let out a lot of frustrations," she said. "Then I walked ahead of the line with my diplomatic pass and got on a train for the West."
She said it affected her greatly. "I'm sure that woman thought she would never be able to do what I had done."