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Former Government Quarter: Bonn streets named after Genscher and Schmidt

Former Government Quarter : Bonn streets named after Genscher and Schmidt

Few people made more of an impact on the Bonn Republic than Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Helmut Schmidt. Now two streets in the former government quarter are being named after them.

Two streets and a square in Bonn have new names. On Monday morning, Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan (CDU) and the outgoing district mayor Helmut Kollig (SPD) unveiled the new sign for Genscherallee on the edge of the Museumsmeile. A temporary sign for Helmut-Schmidt-Square was then placed near the roundabout on the B9. The actual sign will be put on the roundabout itself. In Bad Godesberg, a cul-de-sac off Ludwig-Erhard-Allee will be named in honour of Carlo Schmid, the SPD politician and expert in constitutional law.

“The Federal Quarter is the place where the transformation of our city is clearly visible. Genscher and Schmidt came and went from here during the city’s time as the capital. They influenced Bonn’s development. Their names remind us of this time and of the work of two outstanding politicians of the Bonn Republic,” said the Lord Mayor in his speech.

Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who was the German Minister of the Interior and Foreign Minister and the long-term federal chairman of the FDP between 1969 and 1992, was, for many years, someone who shaped the Bonn Republic. “It is therefore fitting that Genscherallee is in close proximity to the former FDP party headquarters. The name Genscher, unlike almost any other, stands for European integration and Germany unity – and therefore for the success of the Bonn Republic,” said Sridharan.

The longtime Federal Foreign Minister’s name replaces that of the war poet and author Walter Flex (1887-1917). The city said the current street sign would remain for several months alongside the new Genscherallee sign, with the old name crossed out. This would help postmen and deliveries.

The roundabout on the B9 known up to now as the “Trajektknoten” would now be named after Helmut Schmidt, the former Federal Chancellor and honorary Bonn citizen, who died in November 2015.

Schmidt significantly influenced Bonn’s cityscape through the acquisition of the bronze sculpture by Henry Moore (Large Two Forms, 1979) for the Federal Chancellery. Kollig recommended those interested in history to visit the Chancellor’s bungalow, where even today Schmidt’s colossal ashtray and his snuff box are reminders of the north German’s stubbornness and independence of mind. Schmidt led Germany from Bonn as Federal Chancellor between 1974 and 1982. He was made an honorary citizen of Bonn in 1983. Schmidt pushed for European integration and supported an improvement in German-French relations.

The former United Nations Square at the A562 motorway exit should also get a new name shortly. The city council will vote on naming the square after the former Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl at its upcoming meeting on 21 September. The square could have a new name by mid-June 2018 at the earliest, a year after Kohl’s death.

Original text: Martin Wein. Translated by Kate Carey.