30 years since the reunification of Germany: end of the cycle?

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The celebration of 30 years since the reunification of Germany This is a different occasion: the commemoration events of one of the most important dates in the recent history of the country are overshadowed by a pandemic of unprecedented dimensions since on October 3, 1990, the territory of the disappeared German Democratic Republic (GDR) voluntarily and peacefully adhere to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).

The round anniversary is also the last with Angela Merkel in power: East German politics has been at the helm of Germany for half the time since the reunification of the two states founded on the ruins of the Second World War. By the time next year marks the 31st anniversary of the end of the national division, Merkel – a front-line protagonist and a first-person witness to the process – will have already left the front line of politics. The 30 years of reunification thus have something of end of historical cycle and they seem to give way to a forced redefinition of German national identity.

ONE COUNTRY?

Is Germany really one country? What are the differences between East and West Germany still three decades later? Was reunification a success or a failure? Those are just a few of the questions Germans are faced with every October 3 when you look in the mirror and make a retrospective assessment of that unfinished process called reunification. The answers are rarely simple and sometimes they don’t even exist.

The hard and fast statistics continue to show that, despite the fact that the physical border ceased to exist three decades ago, the country continues to be far from being one: wages, pensions and wealth private are still clearly greater in the west than in the east; he unemploymentDespite having decreased in the territories of the former GDR, it is still higher in the east than in the west; and despite the fact that birth rates have leveled off in recent years, the demographic crisis that the whole of Germany suffers is more dramatic in the eastern territories.

The pandemic marks the last commemoration of the goodbye to the national division with Angela Merkel in power

Yet the literal economic and social collapse suffered by East Germany in the 1990s – described by many economists and historians as “shock therapy” – has given way to a general improvement in the economic situation, infrastructures and the standard of living and consumption. The economic dimension is presented, therefore, as a relative success.

CULTURAL DIMENSION

There are other indicators, however, that show serious cracks in the reunification process: the question of whether the socialism It is a good idea that was poorly developed, more than 74% of the citizens of the territory of the former GDR today answered “yes” compared to 47.5% of citizens of West Germany. It is one of the results of opinion poll “Wall in minds?” carried out by the Otto Brenner Foundation, close to the IG Metall union.

The report presents a slow but growing convergence between the population of the two Germanies -especially among the younger ones-, but also important differences in matters such as the value of the group versus the individual. Certain moral scales inherited from the defeated socialist system continue to be projected today in those generations socialized in the GDR and even in later ones.

REPLACEMENT OF ELITES

According to the report on the reunification of the federal government, more than half of East Germans are still feeling today “second class citizens“Given the economic improvement of the new federal states, the reasons seem to lie above all in the cultural and political dimension of reunification.” The main problem was the way in which East Germany was treated, “he tells EL PERIÓDICO. historian Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, Author ‘The Takeover’ (‘La toma’), a book with a provocative title that seeks to reopen debates closed in false in the Federal Republic.

The far right of the AfD has known how to channel the unrest on the part of the East German population

In East Germany “there was a replacement of management teams that no other European society has ever experienced in peacetime, “says Kowalczuk, who describes the east of the country as” a professional paradise “for citizens of the western part: the West German elite assumed and largely continue to assume the positions of political and economic power in what was the GDR. ” replacement of elites took place without geramano-eastern citizens and that generates a representation problem which has continued to be reproduced over the last few years, “reflects the historian.

This problem points to being precisely one of the reasons that have made the extreme right of Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the catalyst of a latent and historical malaise among broad sectors of the East German population. The AfD electoral percentages today double in the East their results in the West. AfD is emerging as a regional party in what was the territory of the German state that disappeared forever in 1990 and as a instability factor for the whole country.

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