Brunssum, the Netherlands - On Thursday, 08 October 2020, the Commander of Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCBS), General Jörg Vollmer, hosted a reception on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the reunification of Germany on 03 October 1990. Following host nation COVID restrictions only 30 invitees were allowed to attend the event; further, the temperature of each host and guest was checked on arrival; physical distancing was rigorously enforced throughout; and masks were the order of the day. Masks were only removed to allow for speeches to be given in a coherent way and food/drink to be taken.
In his address to guests, representing the bulk of member states of the multinational staff of HQ JFC Brunssum, General Vollmer regretted the restrictions the pandemic forced him to obey that extended to the replacement of a pre-planned live musical performance by recorded music. He went on to express his gratitude for the participation of the Mayor of Brunssum, Mrs van der Rijt, and all the other guests. Finally, he thanked the German Delegation for organising the event in these challenging times.
General Vollmer presented a very personal recollection of events during and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, and the reunification of Germany in 1990, referring to his experiences in various military functions at those moments in time and the years thereafter. He also mentioned the gratitude the German people still feel, in particular, towards the Polish who's democracy movement opened the door for the changes in Europe; the Hungarians, who opened the fence to Austria; and the Czechs, who allowed thousands of refugees from East Germany to go to Prague.The Commander then compared the situation in West-Berlin prior to the events of 1989/1990, where the western Allies – France, Great Britain, and the United States - guaranteed the freedom of the city by the presence of their troops, to the situation in the Baltic States and Poland today, where NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroups guarantee the freedom and sovereignty of our partner nations at NATO's eastern flank. For Germany, as General Vollmer put it, now it is payback-time in terms of the solidarity received by her NATO partners in those days.
So, back then as today, the NATO Alliance always has a Centre of Gravity, and that is cohesion. And this cohesion is the defence of Europe
General Vollmer closed his speech with the remark that the Berlin Wall has now been destroyed longer than it existed, and that this should remind us that freedom is not for free, that it has to be defended. And that is what NATO stands for, back in the days of German reunification as well as today.