Thousands of people were waiting for us at the airport, a sea of black-red-golden flags fluttering in the cold December wind in between an almost forgotten white-green flag of the Saxon State. Once the plane had taxied to a standstill, I climbed down the escalator and saw Hans Modrow, who was awaiting me about 10 meters away from the steps with a blank expression on his face. I then turned around to tell the Minister of the Chancellery Rudolf Seiters: "It's done."
Despite the cold, with the thermometer often sinking below freezing, mothers in thick coats pushing baby carriages swaddled in blankets were as common as bakers with their loaves. And all around me, the world's languages and their owners drifted past, evidence that Christmas markets attract international visitors. Russian couples here, Turkish there, a moment of Italian lyric vowels and a French family outfitting their kids with wool mittens.