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Saturday, 3 October 2009

Reunification

Today is a National Holiday in Germany - we celebrate the reunification between East and West Germany which took place about 20 years ago. In the last week of September 1989 East Germans who had fled to the West German Embassy in Prague were allowed to travel onwards to West Germany. German diplomats, namely the German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher had worked very hard behind the scenes to obtain the consent and support of the USA, Russia for this move. From then on the whole process was unstoppable. The Berlin wall finally came down on November 9, 1989, and the formal treaty between the two former German states was signed on October 3, 1990.

Undoubtedly East and West have grown together over the years but not as much as one might have expected over a period of almost 20 years. There is quite a number of people who'd rather have the wall back. Obviously they still feel unsure and unsettled in today's world. One reason might be that both German states were so very different with regard to political systems and personal lifestyle. In East Germany more than 90% of the wifes had a job whereas in West Germany until 1958 husbands could forbid their wifes to take on a job if the wifes neglected their household chores.

All people were supposed to be equal in East Germany. But as always in political system like that some people are more equal than others. The government people lived in villas in Berlin, had access to western goods and cars. The ordinary people didn't. Erich Honecker, head of the East German state for many years, used to spend his summer vacation on an island in the Baltic Sea. Each morning a driver had to bring him fresh rolls (!) from Berlin - a drive of 300 km. And he insisted on West German honey on his rolls, something his people could only get if a relative from West Germany sent them some.

Looks like it might take at least another generation to overcome this trauma of German history.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect at least that long and possibly longer with the legacy of the Stasi. Wismar was an eye-opener.

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