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30 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, just how pitiful is Germany?

Last updated on November 9, 2019

Thirty decades before, the collapse of the Berlin Wall triggered a process that would visit East and West Germany reunified annually afterward.

However, one month past on Unity Day, 3 October, a public holiday where Germany observes this reunification, the chancellor himself confessed that it’s a procedure far from complete.

Based on this year’s standing of reunification report — generated annually by the national authorities since 1997 — salary, wages and disposable earnings in southern Germany are currently at roughly 85 percent of the amount at the west of the nation. Economic output reaches 75 percent of the west, in contrast to 43 percent in 1990, and annually GDP climbed by more from the east compared to the west — 1.6 percent compared to 1.4 percent.

But only 38 percent of Germans from the former East believe that reunification was successful and one of those under 40, who just understood life at the DDR as kids, if at all, the figure drops to 20 percent.

Arguably, it turned out to be a powerful strategy. The party climbed its 2014 lead to Brandenburg and tripled it in Saxony, coming next in every single with 23 percent and 27 percent of the vote. AfD surveys around 14 percent nationwide.

While Merkel acknowledged that the branches exploited from the AfD within her Unity Day address, her ministry for its”new nations”, Christian Hirte, decided to concentrate on the advantages when talking to Euronews.

Citing figures from the government’s reunification status report which referred to queries inquired about”individual dwelling conditions” compared to states from the nation as a whole (or maybe not, as ruling could have it), he explained:”The statistics say it very clearly: Germany’s reunification is an astonishing success story.

“It needs to be mentioned, however, this wasn’t simple to achieve, especially in the early decades. By comparison, the one thing which changed in former West Germany, as folks prefer to mention, was that the postcodes.”

Talking on 3 October at the northern town of Kiel, Merkel inquired: “Where are we all now, nearly 30 decades later?

“Therefore German unity isn’t a condition, something that’s completed and complete. It’s a continuous process, a constant endeavor, a procedure which worries all Germans, regardless of what state they reside in.”

Just just how could ordinary Germans, from countries throughout the nation, born on each side of the boundary, response Merkel’s query? Ten years after the collapse of the Wall, how pitiful is Germany?


“When I was younger, I moved into the boundary from time to time together with my grandmother. From that point, we could observe the home where she had been born, situated in the safety zone between West and East. In the boundary, there was a little restaurant called In the conclusion of the planet. And in my little boy’s creativity I believed that when I ran in the direction of the border, I’d finally drop off the Earth.”

As a kid, she wasn’t conscious of the split in the nation but instead believed of West Germany, and even West Berlin, as a distinct location, one which she simply could not visit because it was not her nation. Though she does recall that a few”special” individuals were permitted to go.

“My dad’s cousin (who had been like a grandma to me along with my brothers) was permitted to proceed to West Germany when she retired from the early 1980s. She’d come to see us once or twice per year and we’d pick up her in Bahnhof Friedrichstraße, that is really where the trains out of West Germany would arrive. The hallway in that train station was called the Palace of Tears.

“Most exciting for me personally was that the Intershop in the railway station, in which you can purchase West German goods, but just with non-DDR cash.

We clearly did not understand this until much later, but I do understand my parents were conscious of being observed. When my mom could call a friend, I recall her saying occasionally, oh, we are not alone, after hearing a clicking noise on the relationship.

“There were specific homes in the area that we understood were Stasi homes, therefore our parents advised us to stay alert to these. My brothers had difficulties at school occasionally. They were not permitted to become category speakers, though the other children wanted them because they weren’t a part of their Pioniere [that the DDR youth business ].”

By 1988 he had been an officer at the West German military.

“This time was that the time of the Cold War and we had an overall strategy of defense straight at the East German border. They predict a survival interval of 3 minutes in the event of a war,” he states.

Even growing up he had a comprehension of the situation in the nation, having participated in youth team visits to East Germany to meet DDR teens. He recalls: “You can see huge differences. There were limitations, no freedom, many matters were prohibited, the boundary area was quite heavily patrolled. Plus it was a oppressive feeling”

It wasn’t one, but he managed to talk about with anybody from the spouse youth group. “In East Germany, there had been minimal two and a half, perhaps three thousand individuals working for the Stasi because informer spies, therefore everyone was very much conscious of what they had been telling their best friends or relatives since there was a higher likelihood that this could be passed to the regional government. So people were careful with what they had been telling us”

She recalls that under the US government, the town thrived, as American soldiers came, bringing with them their spending ability. She states that East Germany wasn’t something which was talked about to kids in her loved ones, even though the branch of the nation in the aftermath of the Second World War had experienced stark consequences near home.

“My dad and his two sisters stayed behind in East Germany while my grandfather had been imprisoned in West Germany from the American military after the war. My grandfather was not capable to track down his family after he had been introduced and he settled in Bavaria.

“My dad and his sisters fled from the Allied powers to Latvia. Then the Russians came on another side and my grandma took my dad and his brother back into the region across Halle in East Germany, while his oldest brother, who was seven at the time, stayed in Latvia, in which a nearby farmer pretended that he had been his son. Following the war, nobody else managed to follow him. He was just found ten years back throughout the German Red Cross.

He left it outside when he was able to locate work on one of those ships at the DDR port of Rostock and subsequently went to Bremerhaven at the West. He spent years trying to locate his dad and after he did, they stayed in close contact and then we saw him frequently. My dad did not have any contact with his mom or brother that had stayed in the East before the reunification. I had no understanding of this before the day the boundaries opened and my dad declared, we’re visiting the East.”


In days, his home town was bombarded with East Germans coming in their own small Trabant cars. He recalls both traffic jams along with pleasure.

“No one thought this would happen. On Christmas Eve, the boundary-crossing where I’d stood with my grandmother previously was started for pedestrians and that I moved across with my dad. He was nervous and light crossing the boundary. For me, it was like traveling to the past because the safety zone was untouched for 50 decades, essentially because of the war. For me, it seemed like a film set.”

Experiencing reunification as a seven-year-old at East Berlin, Julia recalls quite particular benefits.

“My cousin lived in West Berlin and that I must see and can play with her adorable bunnies. They had such trendy and unique supermarkets in West Germany with these distinct brands. So much to select from, it had been mind-boggling.

“The night of the fall of the Wall I particularly recall because my father came home after shooting photos of what was occurring and that he brought me a fresh stuffed animal — a penguin — out of West Berlin, and it was the softest plush creature I had ever touched. For some reason, the East German ones simply were not too soft — a massive bargain for just a tiny kid.”

The events of November 1989 failed, however, include a tinge of bitterness to get Julia’s family. She recalls: “Following my father arranged his Stasi record to be published, he discovered that our really pleasant neighbors had spied on us. He was convinced that they were pressured to perform it, but it was a jolt.”

Recalling life from the DDR, she states: “The SED celebration [of that Eva’s father was a part, although she states he didn’t affect her in this] told you everything you need to consider, what you need to do. Young individuals just got a college location if they had been an SED party associate.

“I experienced that the reunification about the tv. It had been so emotional for me, since it didn`t alter anything in my entire life. However, I was very happy for my friends, still residing in Chemnitz. I admired the courage of those people to venture out and demo. Demonstrations in previous years have been averted by the aid of Russian military forces”

For Franz, as a soldier at the West German military, the changes have been instantaneous. “Lots of foundations at the West were shut and machines were granted off to Turkey and other nations, so there wasn’t much left.”

For him, the financial implications of reunification were also shortly evident, following the authorities in 1991 introduced the so-called”solidarity tax” — a 5.5percent levy on private income meant to level the playing field around the newly unified nation.

“To be honest to the policymakers at the moment, the insecurity was tremendous, you did not have an idea what was about to occur and they all could think about was that the West German experience,” he states.

“There were expectations which were much too large, which were biased to start with. Politicians did not do a whole lot to decrease those expectations, to handle these expectations, in any meaningful manner. This is quite hard, in case you’ve got elections coming.

“However on the flip side, [I feel these frustrations were inevitable ]. East Germans were residing in the same nation with different men and women who weren’t having those issues because they did not need to go through the financial transformation.”

Nearly all Germans will probably cease paying the solidarity taxation from 2021, even though a spokesperson for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy advised Euronews that setting equal standards of living in western and eastern Germany remains an integral objective. The authorities in July this year announced a new financing system meant to benefit economically and structurally poorer portions of the nation across east and west, starting in January 2020.

Franz recalls bitterness at the debut of the tax. We did not believe that this was a part of the nation. For the older generation, it had been distinct, the old generation witnessed while the Wall has been constructed and the nation had been split.”

The financial drawbacks to reunification were instantly sensed in Inga’s home city of Bremerhaven. And that struck our city hard. A lot of people blamed the launching of their boundaries for this, not able to find the larger good behind it.”

The effects were felt in her family, resulting in a rift through a long-awaited trip to her uncle in the East. “I really could feel that the inherent jealousy of my cousin’s spouse, as of all of the things we had from the West. Like my daddy’s car, a BMW — if they’d had to wait around for several years to acquire a Trabant. The simple fact that we can travel where and when we desired, what we can purchase. She was bitter about it.

“I just watched my uncle and his wife once again, in my granddad’s funeral. As my father [had a fantastic income], he diminished his portion of the inheritance to donate it to his brother. However, my uncle was not content with the quantity of money he obtained and accused my dad of maintaining money for himself. They dropped out over this rather than reconnected.”

Successor failure

“No one understood what was the ideal method of reunification.

For him, though he believes that the procedure went smoothly as possible, reunification didn’t instantly result in unity. He recalls: “West Germans began to believe that a whole lot of the previous standing was gone. Lübeck, for example, always got additional cash since it was straight on the boundary. This ceased after reunification and individuals observed that more money went to the west”

And this split is something which continues today, he believes, although with all the bitterness coming today from the opposing side. “From the minds of East Germans, I have the impression they still believe they’re the winners of reunification. I believe there are still boundaries in people’s heads. In the time of reunification, the West German program has been released entirely into East Germany. For them, it should nevertheless feel like an invasion by West to East.”

Julia insists that Germans continue to be a divided people, which this is a rift which exists largely in the collective creativity instead of in fact. She sees time since the sole means to fix it.

“It may not be till the older generations which have lived through the split will have passed along with the post-reunification generations are going to have the ability to take over [this will alter ]. I, though I was just seven when people reunified, nevertheless [create the split ].

“For instance, I wouldn’t need to dwell in former West Berlin districts. The areas I have lived in have been in former East Berlin. I can not explain it, but I suppose I see it as’my’ section of Berlin instead of this’other’. I move to western areas of the city constantly and that I enjoy it there, however, I could not live there.

For Franz, the origin of that which he affirms is that a present split is apparent: “Politically, the east is quite different. When you take a look at the elections we had lately, at the east you appear to possess rather significant dissatisfaction with the present system. I do a good deal of company in eastern Germany and I find there are a whole lot of differences. In case you’ve got an extremely skilled engineer who is on possibly 5,000 euros a month at the west, then this man is on possibly $2,500 from the east. So economical variables are the principal cause of the split.”

“And with this freedom, they compared themselves to those individuals who dwelt at the West, believing these individuals still have better and more things. At the same time, the folks from the West were annoyed with all the requirements of the people. from the East had, believing they ought to just be pleased not to be locked in their country .”

Looking into the future

She adds: “The new generations are getting the previous criteria, the false hopes and expectations and grudges, educated from early youth.

The youth of Germany would be the secret to alter for Julia also, who states: “Place the folks born after reunification accountable for My nephew was created in 1998 and is still a college student today. His buddies are from all over Germany, likely around Europe, and he does not care 1 bit. To him, the Wall is the intriguing slice of history which existed in his state and he looks at it as we consider the phenomena of the Second World War. It is interesting, but we are glad it is over.”

Andreas believes there is very little longer to do, besides admit this actuality.

Prof Zohlnhöfer insists the time might have begun to proceed, mentioning differences between the south and north of this country as proof that the split between west and east is more psychological than substance.

He states: “Obviously there are strong differences between the western region and the southern part. You may observe this in election results and political civilization. Having said this, it’s also very important to be aware there are differences between different sections of Germany, regarding financial growth and also regarding religiosity and by which parties individuals tend to vote. The Christian Democrats are generally more powerful in the south than in the northwest, for instance.

“Along with this, when you take a look at other federal nations, there is always a certain quantity of diversity between portions of the nation, such as in the USA, but in nations such as Switzerland that is a lot smaller. So yes, there are differences between eastern and western Germany, and they’re likely related to where folks were socialized, however, it is rather tricky to envision a scenario where there wouldn’t be some gaps between both portions of the nation.

“We may want to simply accept that there gaps within the nation. You will find equally as powerful breaks between Bremen and Bavaria.”

For Eva, the opportunity to proceed is still to come.

“To make the nation more unified we want a great deal longer time. We’ve only 30 years .”