Divide between East, West Germany persists after fall of Berlin wall

Published 08.11.2019 19:26
Updated 20.12.2019 01:32

As Germany marks three decades since Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, ultimately culminating in the collapse of the communist regime, a survey stated that Germans have been divided over the legacy of the reunification, indicating a negative shift in the east.

According to the latest Deutschlandtrend report by political research firm Infratest Dimap, some 60% of Germans in former East Germany thought of the reunification as a positive change, indicating a 7% drop compared to figures 10 years ago when the country was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall, as reported by Deutsche Welle. On the other hand, in former West Germany, a positive trend has been on the rise with 56% of people finding the reunification beneficial.

The Berlin Wall, the most potent symbol of the Cold War division of Germany, fell 30 years ago. It marked a turning point in European and world history. After the systematic cordoning off of the 155-kilometer-long border around West Berlin in 1961, the border wall was rebuilt with 3.6-meter-high segments in 1975. More than 40,000 people fled East Germany between 1961 and 1989. Alongside the many economic and political factors that eventually brought down the Iron Curtain, it was mass demonstrations in East Germany and mass emigration to the West that made a decisive contribution at the time. Over the years, many people tried to bypass the border by going through tunnels they dug themselves or via the sewage system. There are known to have been around 70 tunnels between East and West Berlin, and more than 300 communist German Democratic Republic (GDR) citizens used them to reach the West.

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) issued a report earlier this week, which showed that the economic and social gap between the former West and East Germany continues to close. According to the report, the unemployment rate in the former East Germany in 2005 was around 20.6%, twice as high as in the West. Last year, the rate was just over 5% in the former West and between 7 and 8% in the East. Eastern German states are also catching up in terms of productivity. In 2018, the gross value added per employed person was around 83% of the comparable figure for western Germany but more than twice as high as shortly after the fall of Communism. The differences that still exist "go hand in hand with smaller companies and a smaller proportion of (large) company headquarters" in the east, the study added.

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