Related topics

Sleepy Rhine Town Mourns Its Losses After Victory Party Turns Into Wake With

June 21, 1991

Sleepy Rhine Town Mourns Its Losses After Victory Party Turns Into Wake With PM-Germany-Capital, Bjt

BONN, Germany (AP) _ The party fizzled, but at least the band was playing the blues.

Thousands of residents of the unassuming postwar capital, which led western Germany from war’s ruins to 40 years of democracy, had gathered in the city’s old market square Thursday night for what they thought would be a celebration.

Beer was flowing, flags were flying and the band was playing Dixieland jazz as a giant screen carried live the nearby debate in the parliament over the future seat of government in unified Germany.

But when lawmakers agreed by a 15-vote margin to relocate the government in Berlin - what locals consider that glitzy, seamy and undemocratic metropolis to the east - silence descended.

Suddenly the party turned into a wake, and the band struck up the blues.

″Berlin will be a city like Tokyo and Paris, and Bonn will be a graveyard,″ said Hans-Juergen Pommereit, who owns an antique shop in old town.

″If we want to go on as we used to then Berlin should be the capital, with its military parades,″ said an angry 32-year-old Marco Heinz. ″Berlin is a murder capital. Characteristic of Berlin is war, imperialism, facism and war again.″

A somber Mayor Hans Daniels, who a year ago predicted Bonn would win ″the battle between David and Goliath,″ called the parliament’s decision ″a serious blow to Bonn and the region.″

″I’m naturally as disappointed and concerned as you over the result of the vote,″ Daniels told the more than 10,000 would-be revelers, above the jeers of a few drunks. ″We all knew the result would be very close, but we all hoped that this close result would be in our favor.″

Bonn supporters argued that moving to Berlin would be too costly for a country already burdened by unification’s costs and an economic death knell to the local region, which had grown up and prospered around West Germany’s government. They said 100,000 jobs could be lost.

The goverment estimated the move would cost as much as $41 billion and take about 10 years.

In addition, Bonn residents argued that putting the seat of power once again in what had been the capital of Prussia and Hitler’s Third Reich would send ominous political signals to the world.

″I’m sad because I think the quality of politics will change,″ 53-year- old Klaus Tschoepe, an Education Ministry employee, said as he watched the rapidly dwindling crowd. ″It is a decision for a certain form of tradition, political tradition in Germany, which I don’t want to resume.″

Pommereit, 44, said he and other businessmen had already suffered great financial losses from the uncertainty caused by the yearlong Bonn-Berlin fight. And he’s not hopeful things will improve.

″I might lose my shop. I might be unemployed, but I won’t move to Berlin,″ said the 18-year resident. ″I love Bonn.″

Update hourly