20 years reunification: Coke, immigrants and east Germans

Article published on Oct. 1, 2010
Article published on Oct. 1, 2010

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

On 3 October Germany celebrated the twentieth anniversary of its reunification. But many are disappointed with the unification process and East Germans are still underrepresented among the country's elites, the Czech, UK, Italian and Slovakian papers write

‘No plan B for artificially separated peoples’ - Pražský deník, Czech Republic

When the two Germanys reunited twenty years ago they had no idea how different they really were, comments the liberal daily: ‘This became increasingly clear to them the more their mutual aversion grew. To the East Germans those from the west seemed arrogant and pompous. The 'Wessies', on the other hand, accused the 'Ossies' of laziness and complained that they had to pay for the reunification with a drop in living standards. The nationality and language they share could not obliterate the different experiences they had gone through under opposing social systems. Nevertheless the positive aspects of the reunification outweigh the negative, and that's what the Germans will be celebrating. Especially since there was no plan B for these artificially separated peoples’ (Ivan Hoffman)

Read more from Pražský deník

‘Easterns make peace with past without being nostalgic’ - The Guardian, United Kingdom

According to a study by the university of Bielefeld East Germans make up twenty percent of Germany's population but only five percent of the country's elites in politics, business, science and the media. This could be due to a loss of self-confidence among east Germans after the Berlin wall came down, says the left-liberal daily: ‘None of the thirty leading companies listed in the German share index have an east German boss. Ninety-five percent of professors of sociology or political science are originally from the west, even in east German universities such as Leipzig or Dresden. The same is true for the media. The editors-in-chief of big newspapers all hail from the west. Maybe we also have to blame ourselves. Many of us avoided taking responsibility after having lived through the collapse of one society. But there is a growing confidence among east Germans, especially among the younger generation, that they can make peace with the past without being nostalgic' (Sabine Rennefanz)

Read the full opinion ‘East Germans are still different’ on The Guardian

‘Created inequalities in German society’ - Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy

Germany's reunification is part of a difficult historical process which Germany doesn't want to have to pay for at a European level, writes the business paper: ‘While the fall of the Berlin wall in itself was the antithesis of the erection of a monument, the process of reunification has proved to be a denial of the opening of the border. With the resulting flow of financial means from west to east the reunification has created inequalities in German society. This inequality has been exacerbated by the influx of immigrants from eastern Germany. The asymmetrical distribution of the burden within the eurozone [during the euro crisis] has left the Germans with an aversion to their role as 'official paymaster'. Both German and European unity are two parts of the same historical process. But now that German unity is a fait accompli the fate of European unity remains uncertain’ (Carlo Bastasin)

More from Il Sole 24 Ore

‘Club-Cola versus Coke’ - Sme, Slovakia

Not all Germans feel they profited from the reunification, writes the liberal daily: ‘Only forty percent of the middle-aged and elderly East Germans are happy with the reunification. One third of them admit their disappointment. The reunification was bound up with the vision of an economic miracle, a dream that didn't come true for many. As early as 1991 2.5 million had already lost their jobs. To this day many Germans call the large-scale privatisation of many companies the 'theft of the century'. Even the East German product Club-Cola disappeared, only to reappear in 1992 defiantly calling itself an 'anti-imperialistic soft drink'. Young people, especially those who headed west, are delighted with the twentieth anniversary and are well-used to the taste of Coke. The only place you'll find Club-Cola is in East German kitchens, where it warms the cockles of nostalgics' hearts. But how many of them are aware that the socialist drink has long belonged to a West German firm located in the state of Hesse?’ (Katarína Mallok)

Read the full article ‘Zákutia nemeckého zjednotenia’ on Sme 

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