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Germany: East<>West gap growing?

 
 
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2004 02:41 pm
Quote:
20% of Germans want the Wall back

Reuters
Thursday September 9, 2004
The Guardian

Fourteen years and a trillion euros after reunification, nearly one in five Germans would like to see the barrier that split the country during the cold war put back, according to a survey released yesterday.
A poll by the Forsa institute found that a quarter of west Germans wished the 15 million east Germans could be cut off again by the Berlin wall, while 12% of east Germans did not want to be part of the united country.

Many westerners said they were disgruntled because they had had to foot the bill for reunification - 24% said they had suffered financially as a result.

In the formerly communist east, where wages are still below western levels and unemployment is twice as high, a third said they were no better off financially because of unification and the end of communism.

The lingering divisions have erupted in recent months as Chancellor Gerhard Schrö der's government tries to reduce unemployment and welfare benefits in the name of reform, touching a nerve in the east.

Westerners are sometimes disparagingly referred to as arrogant "Wessies", while easterners are called "Jammer Ossies" (whining easterners) in the west.

The Forsa survey, based on interviews with 1,002 easterners and 1,005 westerners, highlighted a feeling in the west that easterners were ungrateful for the financial support they had received since 1990, and should do more to help themselves.

Thirty-seven per cent of west Germans said the €80bn (£55bn) the government pumped into the east each year was too much. But almost a third of east Germans thought it too little, Forsa said.

Two high-level diplomats recently said they were alarmed at the bitterness between the groups. The former West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and former East German foreign minister Markus Meckel said they feared the east-west gap was growing.
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Thok
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2004 11:58 pm
Well, nobody can stop the ravages of time. The communism is already around 13 years over and finally the population must live with it. Even if the East is expensive and has more issuses than the West.

What is your statement to this topic?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 12:17 am
I really like it that these two German states got unified.

Nearly exactly 30 years, some co-students and I published a book about the "Two Germanies".
(Actually, this was the edited version of our examination in Political Sciences, and one of our profs asked us, if this couldn't be published in a serie of books, he edited ...
My own part was more on the legal and historical chapters.)

Well, our conclusion at those days was, a unfication never can happen, because citizens are drifted to much from away, especially the inhabitants of the GDR would have extreme difficulties (they [the -then- younger ones] had lived all their lifes in totalitarism ... etc etc).


We didn't look a lot at the economics (actually, I can't remember, if we ever did :wink: ).
This seems to be the most important feature today.

I'm sure, however, that within a couple of years, differences will be totally in the background, just an historic aspect.

And - yes, of course, they will always be there, but more like those, we all know .... e.g. between different other regions in Germany.




Just some thoughts early in the morning
0 Replies
 
Thok
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 05:56 am
In this relation:

Anger over German prison tourist plan

Quote:
Former political prisoners have voiced outrage at a German company's scheme to sell tourists
an authentic jail experience in what was former Communist East Germany's biggest women's prison.

Thousands of women suffered torture and repression behind the walls of Hoheneck castle, a medieval fort perched
on a hill above the town of Stollberg in Saxony, used as a jail for political dissidents from 1950 until 1989.

Now German company Artemis GmbH, which purchased the five-hectare (12.4-acre) estate in 2003, is advertising
the chance to spend a night like a prisoner, eating sloppy food and being deprived of sleep in a tiny cell for the price of
100 euros (67 pounds).

"We are offering people the chance to re-live the past first hand instead of just reading about it in dry history
books," said project leader Michael Heinz.

"It's also an opportunity for Stollberg's inhabitants to come to terms with what happened here," he said. "During
Communist times Hoheneck prison was a black hole in the landscape that no one was supposed to know about."

But former Hoheneck prisoners accuse the business venture of riding rough-shod over their feelings and trying to
profit from the misery inflicted by the former Communist dictatorship.

"The women who spent years incarcerated at Hoheneck feel absolutely insulted by Artemis's complete lack of
respect," said Margot Jann from a support group for former Hoheneck prisoners.

"It's clear to us that this project is just a cheap attempt to make money," she said.

Karl Hafen of the International Society for Human Rights in Frankfurt said he had received thousands of telephone
calls from furious former captives.

"It's simply unacceptable to turn a prison into a holiday resort," said Hafen.

The society has asked Saxony's state premier Georg Milbradt to block Artemis's plan but has got no response yet.

The former Hoheneck inmates join the ranks of East Germans enraged by the commercial manipulation of
nostalgia for pre-unification days, sparked by hit films such as "Good Bye, Lenin", retro fashion trends and
relaunched East German TV shows.


Link
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 07:13 am
Been wondering how all this was going, Walter.

Do you think, given the magnitude of the thing, that the numbers of disgruntled are about what you wouls expect, or higher than that?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 07:21 am
Lower, Deb. I'd actually expected the number in the East to be a lot higher (especially, when regarding the support to the follow-up party of the SED [= former 'communist' party in the GDR].

Another reason, why I thought the number would have been higher, is that some hundredthousands "immigrated" to the old western states.
So those, who still stay there, would have been more 'conservative', I thought.


It's quite easy for us in the West, to look down to the East.
And it's easy not to look at our own faults but to declare, all our eveil is due to the money we send there. Sad
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 07:33 am
Lol! Evil, yes - I have heard both sides of all that.

I think it is lower, too.


Damned stunning experiment!!!!
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Sep, 2004 10:18 pm
I read your replies with profound interest, Walter. You say that in your book of 30 years past, you gave scant, if any, attention to the economic problem. That's fascinating because I remember thinking -- probably about 30 years or so ago -- "If they ever do get reunited, boy, that will be one hell of an economic problem for the West. Those people in the East don't understand anything about free enterpise or the capitalist system and a centrally-contolled economy is destined to fall apart after unification." The economic problem was probably my main concern. I didn't think there would be that much of a social problem since, after all, you are all ein Volk.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Sep, 2004 11:02 pm
Listening.

I remember being thrilled. I had seen, just a few weeks prior (I think I remember that, re the timing) to all this, a couple of east german movies at the Fox Venice (West Los Angeles).

I hadn't and still don't have a grasp of economic power - actually I do, but I guess I don't see why it can't be swung around in different directions, given the will.* Well, then, there's the problem, the will to swing it, plus necessary freedom for all while it is swinging, and the information, the education. I think in many transition situations various people in place make hay while the sun shines (old american phrase).

* of course I understand, just whining.

I also know that economic behavior is largely cultural.
I am fairly stupid about finance, and had very smart parents who were financial dummies too. Of course one can break out of this, if one is interested in doing so, and/or lucky, but many don't.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 06:09 am
I have a very good friend who was visiting Berlin with his wife on the day of unification. Like me, he is a recovered alcoholic. He had visited Berlin before, in the days when he was still drinking; it was a first trip to Germany for the Frau. Alex told me afterward that it took every ounce of will-power he had not to go on a toot in celebration, joining all the local folks who were doing just that!
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 06:27 am
http://www.kbs-koeln.de/webbewerb/liebfrauenschule/wiedervereinigung/images/ausreise.jpg

This is a photo from ... could be some weeks before the re-unification until short afterwards.
East Germans were allowed to drive to the West, which they did: the right lane on our autobahn here was always blocked with Trabbis and Wartburgs (GDR cars) - the Ruhrdistrict was within the reach for a one-day trip :wink:
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 08:51 am
the picture reminds me of our holidays in germany the week after the reunification. i remember the constant stream of cars coming from the east. our brother-in-law drove us to the former border and we stood on one of the bridges at the former border where we watched the cars coming into the west. ... and it was euphoria ! ... i think both the 'ossies' and the 'wessies' expected the impossible, that there would be be a harmonious and easy reunification - that it would be a 'win-win' situation. i think the expectations were simply too high, and the honeymoon could not last. if i look at canada, we have large pockets of unemployed/underemployed and there certainly are plenty of tensions within the country. quebec has made noises about wanting to separate, the western provinces claim that the ontario/quebec provinces take all the power from the west, ontario says that they have to pay too much money into the equalization fund to help the poorer provinces and the province of newfoundland thinks they should never have joined canada. .. so there you have it in a nutshell. ... but somehow compromises have been made by the provinces when faced with the prospect of separation; of course, some quebec politicians are again making noises about forming a separate state. will there ever be complete 'peace and understanding' ? i doubt it, because different people will at certain times feel that they have not been given a fair deal. isn't it somewhat like a large family ? some kid feels that the other one got a larger piece of cake, and another one feels that he should be allowed to stay out longer. it's all part of life and i don't think that there is a magical formula to make everyone happy. all one can do is trying to be fair and hope for the best. hbg
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 12:16 pm
At least in Germany there isn't the dual language dificulty which exists in Canada. Language can be a strong unifying force.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 01:50 pm
You are correct, Andrew, but some from Thuringia and especially Saxony totally reject to speak German Laughing
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 05:17 pm
i think it should have been a requirement of the reunification for all 'wessies' to learn how to 'saechseln', learn the saxon dialect. found a beautiful example of how to interpret the german word 'gaensefleisch' (goosemeat) into the saxon language : "Gänsefleisch: Genn' se vleisch mal 'n Gofferraum offmachn? ". unfortunately it looses just a little in the translation into english - but, what the heck - : "could you possibly open the trunk(of your car) ? ". my oldest german friend - we started school together in grade one - has a dual parentage, his father came from pomerania, his mother from saxony. he could entertain us for hours doing the wonderful dialects. i start smiling just thinking of it. hbg
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 06:18 pm
Not that hard to understand, Ham. The pun revolves on the mispronunciation of the word 'vileicht.' [sp.?]. Just be glad that Königsburg is now Kaliningrad or you'd probably have to get used to some Baltdeutsch as well. Smile
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 07:23 pm
andrew : the 'saxons' wouldn't call it a mispronounciation, they believe that they pronounce it correctly and all others ought to speak the german language their way. don't have any problem with the dialect that was spoken in the former 'ostpreussen' (koenigsberg = kaliningrad), it is a sub-dialect of 'plattdeutsch' which was widely spoken in eastern and northern germany when i grew up. my wife's family came from eastern prussia and i received a number of books written in the 'ostpreussen' dialect from one of her aunts. the dialect is somewhat broader and softer than spoken in northen germany(hamburg); it's also quite earthy and a lot of fun to read. hbg
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Feb, 2005 02:59 am
Ah, I was looking for an East-German thread ...

I love reading the "back page" of Freitag. Void of the strident or overly intellectual politics that appears inside, its always got a subtly comical or wistful anecdote or two that will have you smile, for a minute. Its ultimately relaxing, and still often offers some unexpected angle of highly personalised insight as well. Pity you cant get it here in Holland.

Anyway, enough with the eulogy. This is another "small smile", from last week's Freitag. About buying a couch, and what straits there were to navigate "back then", and how they compare with the wholly different obstacle race of today ...

Quote:
Kälbchen aus Stroh
BERLINER ABENDE

Link

Ich kenne die statistisch berechnete durchschnittliche Anzahl von Couchgarnituren, die sich eine Familie im Laufe ihres Leben zulegt, nicht. Wir besitzen zurzeit die dritte. Ob wir damit im 30. Jahr unserer Wohngemeinschaft ein volkswirtschaftlich akzeptables Kaufverhalten an den Tag gelegt haben oder eher zu den Konsummuffeln zählen, auch das vermag ich nicht zu sagen. Die ersten beiden Garnituren erwarben wir unter der Obhut sozialistischer Planwirtschaft. Das war einfach und kompliziert zugleich. Couch Nummer 1 war das Hauptmöbelstück unserer winzigen Einraumwohnung. Es diente sowohl dem gemütlichen Sitzen als auch dem nächtlichen Schlaf. Eine gewöhnliche Klappcouch kam nicht in Frage, da das Möbelstück unmittelbar vor einem Schrank platziert werden musste, dessen Türen mehrmals am Tag zu öffnen waren. Genau ein Modell, das flach genug war, hatte der Handel zu bieten, theoretisch. Praktisch klapperten wir über Monate alle Möbelläden in unserer Umgebung ab, immer wieder den Hinweis der Verkäufer befolgend: "Versuchen Sie es doch am nächsten Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag wieder, vielleicht haben wir Glück." Die zweite Garnitur bestand aus einem Dreier, dem Zweier und einem Sessel. Die Lehnen aus rustikalem Eichenholz, die Bezüge von dunkelbraunem Samt - ein wahrer Traum in den Achtzigern im Osten. B. entdeckte sie zufällig im Möbelhaus am Alexanderplatz, als sie gerade ausgepackt wurde. Niemand kannte den Preis, keiner wusste, ob und wann sie geliefert werden konnte. B. entschloss sich, die Sache auszusitzen, ob auf dem Dreier, dem Zweier oder dem Sessel ist nicht überliefert. Irgendwie gelang es ihm auch - es gab noch keine Handys -, seinen Arbeitskollegen die Notsituation zu erklären. Alle verstanden sofort, dass er unter diesen Umständen erst später zur Spätschicht kommen konnte.

Da wir mittlerweile eine Zweiraumwohnung ertauscht hatten, wanderte nun Modell Nummer 1 in Raum Nummer 2, die neue Traumgarnitur zierte das Wohnzimmer. Das änderte sich auch Anfang der Neunziger nicht, als wir in der Nachwendezeit raus aus dem Zentrum an den Rand der Stadt zogen. Das Dreiergespann war unverwüstlich und immer noch schön. Bis uns vor knapp drei Jahren diese beiden ausladenden und dennoch irgendwie zierlichen Ledersofas namens "Santiago Gaucho antik" begegneten. Plötzlich sahen wir die alte Garnitur mit anderen Augen und erwogen sogar, uns von ihr zu trennen. Das fiel uns schließlich umso leichter, als alle drei Teile von lieben Menschen adoptiert wurden.

Heute nun, nur drei Dutzend Monate später, haben wir ein Problem. Die antike Lederpracht ist dahin, die Sitzfläche des meist von B. besessenen Sofas löst sich auf. Wer sich ohne Decke auf ihr niederlässt, klebt fest, so wie einst die frechen Diebe am "Kälbchen aus Stroh" in meinem Lieblingskinderbuch. Über die Stadien Erstaunen - Entsetzen - Entrüstung sind wir halbwegs hinaus, praktische Schritte sollen nun folgen. Aber welche? An einem Samstag tragen wir unsere Beobachtungen in jenem Möbelgeschäft vor, in dem wir die beiden Sofas erworben haben. Wir sind die einzigen Kunden und haben daher die ungeteilte Aufmerksamkeit aller drei Verkäufer, einschließlich der Filialleiterin. Noch ehe wir ausgesprochen haben, ist die "Nicht-mehr-Garantie-Frage" schon geklärt. Keine Geste des Bedauerns, aber das Angebot sich umzuhören, ob irgendwo in einer Schwesterfiliale noch ein Exemplar des nicht mehr lieferbaren Modells herumstehe. So ganz nebenbei erfahren wir auch, dass unser auf antik getrimmtes Leder nicht durchgefärbt werde, was immer von Nachteil sei. Das hat uns drei Jahre zuvor niemand zu Bedenken gegeben. Der Samstag ist also gelaufen; mal sehen, was der Sonntag bringt. Schließlich hat ein großes Möbelhaus in Vogelsdorf verkaufsoffen, und nur mal so prophylaktisch umsehen kostet ja noch nichts.

Diesen Gedanken teilen wir mit der halben Stadt. Wir wollen eine Couch und bekommen ein Volksfest. Netzbestrumpfte, hochhackige Mädchen mit Frack und Zylinder reichen Begrüßungssekt. Auf meinen potenziellen neuen Sitzgarnituren lümmeln angeregt schwatzende Menschen und lassen sich das perlende Getränk munden. Musik rauscht aus vielen Lautsprechern und hin und wieder der quengelnde Wunsch kleiner Stammhalter, ihren Erzeugern die Festlaune zu versauen. Sie möchten sofort aus der Spielecke abgeholt werden. Der Mann an der Losbude haucht mit sonorer Stimme in sein Mikrophon: "Jedes Los ein Treffer, jedes Los gewinnt." Niemand interessiert sich für seinen Plunder. Wir kaufen zehn Quarkkeulchen am Stand daneben und ergreifen die Flucht.

Gestern haben wir im Kaffeeladen zwei Sofadecken aus Kunstpelz gekauft, den Kaffee haben wir dabei vergessen, aber zum Glück hatte der Baumarkt noch auf ...
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Feb, 2005 01:42 pm
nimh : the 'kaelbchen aus stroh' is really priceless ! i've put the 'freitag' weekly in my favourites under 'deutsches allerlei' . thanks, nimh, it'll be fun reading it more than once ! hbg
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Feb, 2005 05:45 pm
What Mr. H. said.
0 Replies
 
 

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