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Bavarian Minister of State Dr. Beate Merk, Bavarian minister of European Matters and Regional Relations, is the keynote speaker at the German Unification Day Celebration held Oct. 2 here at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. (DOD photo by Karlheinz Wedhorn/RELEASED)

By Christine June
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Oct. 2, 2015) – “The Marshall Center proves every day the ideas of freedom that were forged 70 years ago by building a stable bridge between former enemies for peaceful coexistence throughout the world,” said Bavarian Minister of State Dr. Beate Merk, Bavarian minister of European Matters and Regional Relations.

Merk was the keynote speaker at the German Unification Day Celebration held Oct. 2 here at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Johann Berger, the Marshall Center German deputy, started the event off with remarks, relating what it meant to him as a boy when the Berlin Wall came up and what it has meant to him that the “East and West became one 25 years ago. Moments I will always cherish.”

Berger also talked about the positive influence of U.S. Army Gen. George C. Marshall and his Marshall Plan. The Marshall Center is named after Marshall, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for the Marshall Plan, which was aimed at the economic recovery of Western Europe after World War II.

“He regenerated Europe and helped Germany rise from the ashes into a falcon,” Berger said.”The transatlantic alliance was the prerequisite for unifying people separated from family and friends, and preventing further expansion by the Soviet Union.”

The Lord Mayor of Garmisch-Partenkirchen Dr. Sigrid Meierhofer also spoke about the Marshall Center.

“For 20 years, the German-American partnership here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen has been networking among countries throughout the world,” said Meierhofer. “The Marshall Center has promoted freedom and partnership between countries of different cultures, customs and language. This is priceless.”

More than 250 people from Austria, Germany and U.S. attended the event, with leaders from civilian and military government, police, clergy, agencies and schools. Music was provided by the German Mountain Division Band – Gebirgsmusikkorps der Bundeswehr – based in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which included the German, American and Bavarian anthems.