Monday, November 08, 2004

Die Mauer



I do not have an obsession with the Berlin Wall. It has just made a big comeback in German consciousness with regard to the problems that the country faces: lagging economy, regional divisions, and political extremism. The Wall has become a metaphor for the unfulfilled promises of reunification: there were no "blossoming landscapes". Here are some recent articles:
  • Although the city has a vibrant arts scene, industry is fleeing from Berlin, and most residents find it too expensive to shop (in English). The initial euphoria for new construction has left a lot of empty, unused space:
    Those overly optimistic predictions about Berlin's post-reunification population and job development led to a massive building boom of both apartment and office space that stretched into the late 1990s.'But the expected development didn't happen and we were left with a lot of empty buildings,' Hiltrud Sprungala.
  • Many Germans feel that their nation is still divided, that the Wall is still with them: <>A recent poll conducted by the Forsa research institute found that a quarter of West Germans wished the Berlin Wall could be rebuilt, while 12 percent of East Germans said they didn't want to live in a united Germany. ...

    Stereotypes about East and West are stubborn. East Germans think of westerners as "Besser-Wessies," or arrogant know-it-alls. West Germans, in turn, roll their eyes about the "Jammer Ossies," or whining easterners. "East Germans have a false perception of affluence in the West. They overestimate the level of prosperity, and take the upper income level as the average, so many of their demands are unrealistic," says Klaus Schröder, an expert on the former East Germany at Berlin's Free University.

    "West Germans are envious when they see how much money is being transferred to the East. Many people feel that the true cost of reunification is being hidden from them."
BTW, Tuesday is the anniversary of the fall of the Wall.

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