View Poll Results: Which do you think was the lesser evil out of two evils?

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  • GDR

    18 38.30%
  • FRG

    8 17.02%
  • I am not German, but nevertheless am curious to see how Germans voted on this!

    21 44.68%
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Thread: East Versus West - A Comparison of Germany Before and After Reunification

  1. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagna View Post
    Communism and socialism, including national socialism are made of the same substance. Same sh*t, different name. They are all leftist, totalitarian ideologies that infringe on Germanic basic rights and freedom of speech. They both enslave Germanics, whether it's the Stasi or the Gestapo. You may say you have never met a pro-Germanic communist, I say the same about national socialists. They are as un- and anti-Germanic as their communist comrades.
    You know what's un-Germanic? Someone always coming back after not posting for weeks or months, only to hate on some sub-branch of "our" side, whenever NS or WWII are mentioned, without even any argument. Especially if it's some American liberal that moved to ultra-socialist Norway. Most ironic.

    As a matter of fact I have met many pro-Germanic "communists" and National Socialists, in this very thread even. People whose conviction and dedication to the cause not even you can doubt. Guess what, I have also met pro-Germanic liberals or libertarians.

    And personally I'm not any of these things. So, you see, people can be on the same side and not share the exact same political stance. You should perhaps apply some liberalism from time to time.
    And the day they sold us out, Our hearts grew cold
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    What do they know of Europe, Who only Europe know?



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  3. #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blackpill View Post
    I donÂ’t know how anyone can seriously make the case for the BDR over the DDR. The former is almost certainly going to preside over the final end of Germany, if nothing changes. Unilaterally, the major ethnicities of former Eastern Bloc countries are in a superior position to those in the Capitalist West.
    The Reich wanted to prevent such an Eastern Bloc forming to begin with, so why would it be better to live in the Slavic world? Imagine if Germany had the Eastern Bloc and the USSR was partitioned instead, although maybe shared with Scandinavia rather than Japan, Holland getting important trade monopolies in all the major cities. Basically, this would entail Continental Germanics vs Slavs and Ugrics, Peninsular Germanics vs Balts and Finns; I wouldn't preserve any Uralic sovereignties, but treat them like Amerindian reservations--look at the Permic, Volgaic and Samoyedic republics in the Federation today. Genetically, they're fraternal peoples of Sino-Tibetans, so untrustworthy.

    That would have been better, but the BRD managed to withstand Moscow as long as Anglosphere Allies protected them; we can't give France credit because they wanted the BRD as their own Eastern Bloc via the Saarland and Alsace-Lorraine. Only Germanic Anglo-Americans had love and respect for Germans, regardless of politics or wartime conditions. Only the French referred to Germany like it was their toy to fulfill every whim and that summed up the Versailles Treaty. Really, Berlin should be happy that London and Washington saw that Bonn wasn't going to Paris and that they'd be reunited to avoid that fate. A combination of Germanic Allies and Expellees kept Germany from going the way of Poland. I'm not sure that Prussian volksdeutsche could have effected such a thing, while still thinly spread in the Ostsiedlung. That's because Danzig was Germany's Achilles heel, or Siegfried's back and Baldr's mistletoe, to use the appropriate references.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nachtengel View Post
    Americans often have a hard time differentiating between communism/socialism as economic models/philosophies and Jewish communism/cultural marxism. Economically speaking, communism is a theory or system of social organization in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs. Communism as such can be practiced by anyone, from small communes to nation-states or multinational blocs. The economic model of communism wasn't really invented by Marx, Marx expanded on ideas that were there already. The idea of a classless, egalitarian society was present as old as Ancient Greece. In the medieval Christian Church, some monastic communities and religious orders shared their land and their other property. Communist thought has also been traced back to the works of the 16th-century English writer Thomas More.

    Ideologically speaking, communism as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels envisioned it was meant to be internationalist as proletarian internationalism was expected to place class conflict well ahead of nationalism as a priority for the working class. However, this doesn't have to be the rule. One can apply egalitarian notions in a homogeneous ethnic nation as well. In fact, equality probably makes more sense in that respect than in some multiracial utopia, where people have very little ties and commonalities with each other. The more similar people are, the more they can expect to be viewed as members of the same class and collective, also the more they can expect to be regarded as equals. Because in the end, what does the working class in Vietnam or Venezuela have to do with the one in Germany? Very little. They have different experiences, different abilities and different needs. Also it's much easier to regard a nation as a collective than some imaginary international proletariat which is for the most part, a fantasy. A family, as you said, can be seen as a socialist construct.

    Personally, I think neither pure communism not pure capitalism are ideal. Both have been used and abused by Jews. Back in the day, they subverted socialism by creating the idea of an internationalist proletariat, these days they've turned people into wage slaves by subverting capitalism through corporatism and the banking/loaning business, creating enormous debts people will never get out of, not to mention getting politicians to sell out and privatize their countries for the sake of "free trade". The state needs to own a certain degree of its property, it cannot become indebted to foreign forces. It shouldn't sell its resources to the highest bidder, as if they were prostitutes. But of course citizens should be entitled to have their own private property. In the end though, the question is about ethnic homogeneity. That in my mind trumps ideology and economic system. I'd much prefer to live in a communist, but ethnically homogeneous Germany than in a liberal-capitalist, but multiracial one.

    And btw, Marx despite his Jewishness actually recognized the existence of a Germanic kinship: "by quarrelling amongst themselves, instead of confederating, Germans and Scandinavians, both of them belonging to the same great race, only prepare the way for their hereditary enemy, the Slav."
    Marx was like the Soros of his time, fanning the flames between haves and have-nots and yes, class warfare was race war according to the Communist Manifesto. Mein Kampf adapted this to be about rich Jewry vs poor Gentiles and exploited the Crucifixion narrative. In truth, there should be very little to fear about Hebrews or Arabs, considering the wherewithal of major superpowers like Persia, Greece and Rome back then, or China, Russia and America in our own time. If people were really afraid of Semites, they would nuke Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina. Therein lies the cognitive dissonance: does one use dynamite to get rid of cockroaches?

    As for economics, I favour guild mercantilism and Owenism. Very English approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juthunge View Post
    You know what's un-Germanic? Someone always coming back after not posting for weeks or months, only to hate on some sub-branch of "our" side, whenever NS or WWII are mentioned, without even any argument. Especially if it's some American liberal that moved to ultra-socialist Norway. Most ironic.

    As a matter of fact I have met many pro-Germanic "communists" and National Socialists, in this very thread even. People whose conviction and dedication to the cause not even you can doubt. Guess what, I have also met pro-Germanic liberals or libertarians.

    And personally I'm not any of these things. So, you see, people can be on the same side and not share the exact same political stance. You should perhaps apply some liberalism from time to time.
    There's a big irony. We're seeing a whole host of secret Weimar apologists go on about the benefits of the DDR, because East Berlin and Karl-Marx-Stadt were the natural evolution of Weimar. Still, with all this praise for Judæo-Bolshevism from both within and without the (present and accounted for) German population voicing their opinions, that's somehow an Anglo-American conspiracy of perfidy to destroy German nationalism. Nachtengel rightly addresses the proto-Marxist society before 1848; unfortunately, nobody's consistently tracing these disturbances to Jacobin infection. Anglo-American radicalism was manifested by Quakerism, Unitarianism and Chartism; hardly bastions of guillotines and Auschwitzes as on the Continent or in Palestine and Israel--LOL...

    Why, yes! Ideological dogmatism is brain rot. Novelties aren't everything either.

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  5. #153
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodskarl Dubhgall
    Imagine if Germany had the Eastern Bloc and the USSR was partitioned instead, although maybe shared with Scandinavia rather than Japan, Holland getting important trade monopolies in all the major cities.
    An alternative reality in which the Dutch get concessions all around partitioned Russia because of reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodskarl Dubhgall
    That would have been better, but the BRD managed to withstand Moscow as long as Anglosphere Allies protected them; we can't give France credit because they wanted the BRD as their own Eastern Bloc via the Saarland and Alsace-Lorraine. Only Germanic Anglo-Americans had love and respect for Germans, regardless of politics or wartime conditions. Only the French referred to Germany like it was their toy to fulfill every whim and that summed up the Versailles Treaty. Really, Berlin should be happy that London and Washington saw that Bonn wasn't going to Paris and that they'd be reunited to avoid that fate. A combination of Germanic Allies and Expellees kept Germany from going the way of Poland. I'm not sure that Prussian volksdeutsche could have effected such a thing, while still thinly spread in the Ostsiedlung. That's because Danzig was Germany's Achilles heel, or Siegfried's back and Baldr's mistletoe, to use the appropriate references.
    What are you talking about? Germany in 1919? 1946? 1990? None of this makes sense. The USSR never wanted to split Germany after WW2, they wanted it to be a neutral bufferstate, a second Switzerland. Only because of "Germanic allies" was what remained of post-war Germany split in half, because they did not accept the Soviet solution to the "German problem". There would've been no need for the occupiers to "protect" Germany then. How is Danzig Germany's achillesheel? When was France going to annex or dominate large parts of Germany and how was that prevented? How and when did Germanic allies and German refugees prevent this? And you're not sure how refugees from Prussia could've prevented this by themselves - what? Why should Germans be happy that they ended up under the American jackboot instead of the French one? What does the Versailles treaty have to do with this?

    In which universe have we arrived?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodskarl Dubhgall
    Only Germanic Anglo-Americans had love and respect for Germans
    That's true love. Loving someone so much that you can never leave them and end up staying with them for 75 years, after invading their house.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blackpill
    I don’t know how anyone can seriously make the case for the BDR over the DDR. The former is almost certainly going to preside over the final end of Germany, if nothing changes. Unilaterally, the major ethnicities of former Eastern Bloc countries are in a superior position to those in the Capitalist West.
    Germans had ethnic preservation in the DDR unlike the FRG, true, they were being protected from extinction, but like zoo animals. At least there was a kind of future for Germans - be it in a cage. Like its FRG counterpart the DDR was not master of its own political fate and economically massively exploited by Moscow, producing for the USSR instead of for themselves, like all Soviet satellite states. 100 Germans died protesting this robbery in 1953. And their history was being rewritten and tarnished to serve the Soviet victors as well. But not so much so that no vision of a future at all was offered to Germans in the DDR. Plus, a permanently paranoid society in which half of the population spies on the other half can't be too chill or good for people's mental health. We are getting a minor taste of this ourselves today, because of the coronavirus.

    If I was a German, I would feel insulted by this entire debate, having to pick a favorite overlord and method of oppression, being offered the choice between the plague and cholera. The only heroes here are those German workers who rose up against their masters in 1953. They were never going to win, but if they magically had - and magically ended up regaining German independence from Moscow for DDR Germans, without reuniting with the American controlled FRG, then you'd have a Germany worthy of the Germans again.
    “As brothers and sisters we knew instinctively that if we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” - Douglas Coupland

  6. #154
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    Germany Faces Old Problems 30 Years After Reunification

    Three decades on from reunification, Germany is still a divided country in many ways. And the differences between the former East and West Germany are not just about the economy.

    In Germany, if you are thirty today, you are still comparatively young. After all, the average age in the country is just under forty-five.

    Statistics show that mothers across Germany as a whole tend to have their first child at around thirty. Before reunification was sealed on October 3, 1990, such things were different. In the former West Germany, women first became mothers at around twenty-seven on average. In the former East Germany, it was at age twenty-four. So, one can say family planning is one area where things seem to have evened out.

    Germany's commissioner for the new federal states, Marco Wanderwitz, insists that: "Since 1990, the two Germanies have in many ways become much more similar." He points to people's leisure pursuits as an example. "There are more things we share," he concludes, "than things that divide us."

    But is that really so? The Annual Report on the Status of German Unity, published in September, seems to tell a different story.

    One area of difference is relative economic strength; the economic output of the former East is almost a third lower than that of Germany as a whole. Incomes in the East are 10% lower, and the unemployment rate is higher.

    Wanderwitz freely admits that these deficits exist. But he hopes that the East can turn things around by attracting next-generation technologies like electric cars, with Tesla's new plant on the outskirts of Berlin providing a model. Other areas that the commissioner identifies as promising include mobility, hydrogen technologies and artificial intelligence (AI).

    Commissioner Wanderwitz is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). Still, he finds common ground with Dagmar Enkelmann, of the socialist Left party, on the other side of the political spectrum — in part because they both hail from the former East.

    Enkelmann is the chair of a Left-affiliated political foundation named after the famous revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. She, too, highlights the economic differences that remain between today's East and West. She tells DW the differences "mean that the East needs to speed up."

    She feels a lot of work has to be done "to reverse the trends in areas like regional development and promoting economic structures." She has been a member of both East Germany's old communist-era legislature, the Volkskammer, and Germany's present-day parliament, the Bundestag.

    Initially not a fan of German reunification, Enkelmann has since had a change of heart: "The world has become more colorful and the air is cleaner."

    And she enjoys the freedom to see things for herself and draw her own conclusions: Citizens of the former East Germany, she explains, really only knew the West from what they got to see on their television screens.

    Since 1990, they have been able to travel the world. "In that time, I've seen so much," she says.

    Enkelmann is critical of the injustices that she believes still exist, but overall she has a positive view of the overall impact of reunification: "It was the right path for most people in Germany." Enkelmann gets goose bumps when she looks at photos from October 3, 1990. The euphoria "is, somehow, still there," she believes.

    This euphoria, or as Wanderwitz puts it, "the elation of Reunification," is something he hopes can be revived. This would require support from the broader population and policymakers.

    But one thing that worries both Wanderwitz and Enkelmann is the lack of appreciation for democracy in eastern Germany: Only 78% consider it the best system, compared to 91% in the western states.

    In recent years Eastern Germany has seen the rise of right-wing extremist parties and a relatively large number of right-wing extremist crimes.

    Wanderwitz believes this must be fixed. It is a topic that "politicians and society should care about," not least for economic reasons. If the eastern states want to maintain economic strength and keep services in the region, "They'll only be able to do that with migration."

    Many young people still head West because that's where almost all of the big automotive and chemical industries are located. Still, Wanderwitz hopes that the eastern states that have been part of Germany for 30 years now, will see more people move there in future.

    But because this could stay a pipe dream, Wanderwitz has been thinking more and more about workers from other countries, especially from Europe, because of cultural similarities. He could imagine seeing more immigrants from Poland coming to eastern Germany since Brexit has put an end to their moving to the UK.

    What is for sure, he adds, is that we must reach out to the world. And that means being "open-minded and welcoming."

    That has been a sticking point, more so in the East than in the West. The political successes of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), a populist right-wing and, according to Germany's domestic intelligence agency, to some extent right-wing extremist party, have been remarkable. The AfD has entered all of the five eastern states' parliaments with over 20% of the vote.

    "The East definitely votes differently than the West," says historian Frank Bösch from the Leibniz Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam. However, he means voting is generally different, not just where the AfD is concerned.

    "That also applies to the Left party, which was the main party in the East for a long time and still is in various ways," Bösch emphasizes.

    He also points to the fact that "the established parties," like Merkel's conservatives, as well as the Social Democrats (SPD), the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green party, lack clout. But he adds that the AfD "isn't a purely East German phenomenon."

    A quick look at the political map of Germany confirms that the AfD has a nationwide presence. Indeed, it has been the largest opposition party in the Bundestag since 2017.

    Bösch says that the notion that there might be more to the party's success in "the prosperous south" than economic weakness or xenophobia.

    In Bavaria, the AfD, which has called for less migration, clinched 10% of the vote for the state parliament, and took 15% in the wealthy neighboring state of Baden-Württemberg.

    At over 12%, Germany's two most financially successful states, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, have higher than average populations of foreigners. But basing the AfD's success on that alone would be too simplistic. If that were the case, the AfD would be a niche party in the East, where only 5% of the population is non-German.

    What is clear, says Wanderwitz is that with the exception of the capital Berlin, which is located in the former East, and attractive university cities like Leipzig, Dresden or Potsdam, the appeal of the western states looks set to remain stronger than the draw of the eastern states for a long time.

    Recently at the release of the annual report on German unity, he told an anecdote about his high school class' 25th reunion. The number of those who had stayed in Saxony, a state that was part of former East Germany, could be counted on one hand.

    "The rest of them lived in the former West, Switzerland, and Austria," he said.

    Wanderwitz firmly believes that the trend for people to move away is slowing down: "It's no longer everybody in a whole school year that is leaving. In fact, hardly anybody is going."

    And if anybody does leave, it is to go away and study, "and ideally most of them will come back," Wanderwitz adds. Of course, it all depends on narrowing the gap in living conditions. And if that does not happen, whole school classes might once again leave the East and go West — to stay.
    https://www.dw.com/en/germany-reunif...020/a-55131890

  7. #155
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    How language speaks to identity in eastern Germany



    Just as different words and meanings played a key role in a sense of separate identity between former East and West Germany before reunification, language has remained key to regional identities in eastern states, writes Antonia Harrison.

    It is common knowledge that Soviet-era Russian words were adapted for use in the lexicon of former communist East Germany – the GDR, just as Americanisms abounded in West Germany. Eastern words like Kosmonaut (meaning ‘astronaut’, from the cyrillic: космонавт) and Subbotnik (a day of unpaid volunteer work on a Saturday; cyrillic: субботник) attest to the role that this new jargon played in sustaining a sense of identity and relationship with the rest of the Eastern Bloc.

    Aside from loan words, cultural factors also influenced the vocabulary used in the GDR. Words with religious connotations were adapted to reflect the state’s interest in atheism, while long technical terms started to saturate everyday life. However, following reunification these words largely lost their meaning and function, and nowadays sound strange to modern German-speakers from eastern Germany.

    But this does not mean that language became immediately standardised as soon as the wall fell. Some linguests say an ‘invisible border’ still differentiates language usage and vocabulary in western Germany from the country’s eastern states – Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia, plus East Berlin.

    How do the differences in language impact on identity?

    Some of these differences centre on food: what western German speakers call ‘Pfannkuchen’ (pancakes or doughnuts in Berlin) are often called ‘Eierkuchen’ by people from eastern Germans; what is called ‘Frikadelle’ (a traditional meat dish resembling meatballs) for the former is ‘Bulette’ in the latter.

    Then there’s the actual products that different in the east when it was a different country. For example ‘Nudossi’ (which is still widely available today) is the eastern version of the chocolate-hazelnut spread ‘Nutella’.

    But time is also sometimes expressed differently: where in the north of the old West Germany you might use ‘viertel nach neun’ (quarter past nine) to express 9.15, in near enough all former GDR regions the same time is expressed as ‘viertel zehn’ (quarter ten).

    In a Guardian article on the subject from 2019, Professor Adrian Leeman of the University of Bern highlighted that “vernacular language is evidently a marker of identity that people wear with pride.” He suggests that eastern Germans gain understanding of and affirm their identity through language, something which many felt was erased when the wall fell.

    This sense of regional identity as mediated through language was damaged after reunification. Whilst around 2,000 to 3,000 words from the former West Germany are thought to have been adopted into the gesamtdeutsche (all-German) lexicon, including obvious loan words such as ‘Kids’ and ‘Outfit’, it is estimated that only 14 words from the former East Germany made it into the national vernacular post-reunification.

    And while some of these language changes were relatively innocent, having little impact on the lives of those from the former German Democratic Republic, words denoting concepts which were unfamiliar to those from the east were harder to grapple with.

    The Deutsches Historisches Museum recalls how many East Germans struggled with having to learn words such as ‘Lohnsteuerjahresausgleich’ (the annual adjustment of income tax) and ‘Sozialversicherungsnummer’ (social security number), which were not only new words, but referred to institutions and procedures which had not existed in the GDR. New language did not only denote new ways of communicating, but an entirely new way of life.

    The challenge of adapting to new vocabulary was such that the German Studies Institute at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg had to set up a language advice line in 1993 which was disproportionately used by people from the former East Germany.

    How did the media and some attitudes in the west impact the east?

    Media depiction of eastern Germany, particularly by outlets based in western cities, has often been damaging and generalising, harming eastern Germans’ self-image. In 2019, Der Spiegel infamously provoked irritation after it ran a story titled ‘So isser, der Ossi’ (roughly translating as ‘What the Ossi is like’), which was accused of stereotyping, prejudice and high-handedness.

    This sense of high-handedness has long been a persistent theme in eastern slang words which centre around the relationship between the former GDR and former FRG post-reunification.

    This is reflected in the term ‘Besserwessi’, named German Word of the Year in 1991, which refers to a ‘Wessi’ (old slang term for someone from the former West Germany) who views themselves as superior to people from the former East Germany (‘Ossi’). It puns on the word ‘Besserwisser’, meaning ‘know-it-all’.

    In response, former East Germans coined the term ‘Jammerossi’ (‘East German whinger’), pejoratively referring to those who criticised the difficulties and hardships of adapting to reunification. These words concretised the pervasive sense of separate identity between east and west.

    An indignant attitude to the perceived condescension of former West Germans is also conveyed in the term ‘Di-Mi-Dos’ (Tuesday-to-Thursday commuters), still used to this day, which denotes the westerners who set up in the east of Germany for work purposes but travel back ‘home’ for long weekends and holidays in the west. They are sometimes seen as ‘implants’ who make little effort to properly assimilate in the east, but who often inhabit a disproportionate number of top positions in many industries.

    This term also correlates with and points to wider patterns of professional and legal inequality between those from eastern and western Germany. As a recent study pointed out, even now only 1.7 percent of top or leading positions in politics, law, the military and business are held by eastern Germans, even though they amount to 17 percent of the population.

    ‘Manipulation and misuse’ of language

    This pervasive sense of inequality also has a sinister import, with increasing divergence and even polarisation of voting patterns between east and west. Far-right parties such as the AfD (Alternative for Germany) have consistently polled much higher in eastern German states, particularly southeastern ones, which are much more traditionally conservative. However, support appears to have been waning somewhat in recent years.

    Author John Kampfner says in his book Why the Germans Do it Better that manipulation and misuse of language are also key components of the political inventory of far-right groups such as the AfD. They have appropriated a number of distinctive buzzwords such as ‘abgehängt’ (left-behind, referring to those left behind by increasingly forward-thinking government policy) and ‘Lügenpresse’ (lying press), many of which are shamelessly appropriated from Nazi-era propaganda.

    Such an approach brazenly attempts to tap into the sense of identity and solidarity offered by a common lexicon, something which was destabilised by reunification.

    Thelocal.de

  8. #156

    Majority of Eastern Germans Feel Life Better under Communism


    Majority of Eastern Germans Feel Life Better under Communism


    Von Julia Bonstein
    03.07.2009.


    Glorification of the German Democratic Republic is on the rise two decades after the Berlin Wall fell. Young people and the better off are among those rebuffing criticism of East Germany as an "illegitimate state." In a new poll, more than half of former eastern Germans defend the GDR.


    The life of Birger, a native of the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania in northeastern Germany, could read as an all-German success story. The Berlin Wall came down when he was 10. After graduating from high school, he studied economics and business administration in Hamburg, lived in India and South Africa, and eventually got a job with a company in the western German city of Duisburg. Today Birger, 30, is planning a sailing trip in the Mediterranean. He isn't using his real name for this story, because he doesn't want it to be associated with the former East Germany, which he sees as "a label with negative connotations."


    And yet Birger is sitting in a Hamburg cafe, defending the former communist country. "Most East German citizens had a nice life," he says. "I certainly don't think that it's better here." By "here," he means reunified Germany, which he subjects to questionable comparisons. "In the past there was the Stasi, and today (German Interior Minister Wolfgang) Schäuble -- or the GEZ (the fee collection center of Germany's public broadcasting institutions) -- are collecting information about us." In Birger's opinion, there is no fundamental difference between dictatorship and freedom. "The people who live on the poverty line today also lack the freedom to travel."


    Birger is by no means an uneducated young man. He is aware of the spying and repression that went on in the former East Germany, and, as he says, it was "not a good thing that people couldn't leave the country and many were oppressed." He is no fan of what he characterizes as contemptible nostalgia for the former East Germany. "I haven't erected a shrine to Spreewald pickles in my house," he says, referring to a snack that was part of a the East German identity. Nevertheless, he is quick to argue with those who would criticize the place his parents called home: "You can't say that the GDR was an illegitimate state, and that everything is fine today."


    As an apologist for the former East German dictatorship, the young Mecklenburg native shares a majority view of people from eastern Germany. Today, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 57%, or an absolute majority, of eastern Germans defend the former East Germany. "The GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there," say 49% of those polled. 8% of eastern Germans flatly oppose all criticism of their former home and agree with the statement: "The GDR had, for the most part, good sides. Life there was happier and better than in reunified Germany today."


    These poll results, released last Friday in Berlin, reveal that glorification of the former East Germany has reached the center of society. Today, it is no longer merely the eternally nostalgic who mourn the loss of the GDR. "A new form of Ostalgie (nostalgia for the former GDR) has taken shape," says historian Stefan Wolle. "The yearning for the ideal world of the dictatorship goes well beyond former government officials." Even young people who had almost no experiences with the GDR are idealizing it today. "The value of their own history is at stake," says Wolle.


    People are whitewashing the dictatorship, as if reproaching the state meant calling their own past into question. "Many eastern Germans perceive all criticism of the system as a personal attack," says political scientist Klaus Schroeder, 59, director of an institute at Berlin's Free University that studies the former communist state. He warns against efforts to downplay the SED dictatorship by young people whose knowledge about the GDR is derived mainly from family conversations, and not as much from what they have learned in school. "Not even half of young people in eastern Germany describe the GDR as a dictatorship, and a majority believe the Stasi was a normal intelligence service," Schroeder concluded in a 2008 study of school students. "These young people cannot, and in fact have no desire to, recognize the dark sides of the GDR."


    "Driven Out of Paradise"

    Schroeder has made enemies with statements like these. He received more than 4,000 letters, some of them furious, in reaction to reporting on his study. The 30-year-old Birger also sent an e-mail to Schroeder. The political scientist has now compiled a selection of typical letters to document the climate of opinion in which the GDR and unified Germany are discussed in eastern Germany. Some of the material gives a shocking insight into the thoughts of disappointed and angry citizens. "From today's perspective, I believe that we were driven out of paradise when the Wall came down," one person writes, and a 38-year-old man "thanks God" that he was able to experience living in the GDR, noting that it wasn't until after German reunification that he witnessed people who feared for their existence, beggars and homeless people.



    Today's Germany is described as a "slave state" and a "dictatorship of capital," and some letter writers reject Germany for being, in their opinion, too capitalist or dictatorial, and certainly not democratic. Schroeder finds such statements alarming. "I am afraid that a majority of eastern Germans do not identify with the current sociopolitical system."


    Many of the letter writers are either people who did not benefit from German reunification or those who prefer to live in the past. But they also include people like Thorsten Schön. After 1989 Schön, a master craftsman from Stralsund, a city on the Baltic Sea, initially racked up one success after the next. Although he no longer owns the Porsche he bought after reunification, the lion skin rug he bought on a vacation trip to South Africa -- one of many overseas trips he has made in the past 20 years -- is still lying on his living room floor. "There's no doubt it: I've been fortunate," says the 51-year-old today. A major contract he scored during the period following reunification made it easier for Schön to start his own business. Today he has a clear view of the Strelasund sound from the window of his terraced house.


    'People Lie and Cheat Everywhere Today'

    Wall decorations from Bali decorate his living room, and a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty stands next to the DVD player. All the same, Schön sits on his sofa and rhapsodizes about the good old days in East Germany. "In the past, a campground was a place where people enjoyed their freedom together," he says. What he misses most today is "that feeling of companionship and solidarity." The economy of scarcity, complete with barter transactions, was "more like a hobby." Does he have a Stasi file? "I'm not interested in that," says Schön. "Besides, it would be too disappointing."


    His verdict on the DDR is clear: "As far as I'm concerned, what we had in those days was less of a dictatorship than what we have today." He wants to see equal wages and equal pensions for residents of the former East Germany. And when Schön starts to complain about unified Germany, his voice contains an element of self-satisfaction. People lie and cheat everywhere today, he says, and today's injustices are simply perpetrated in a more cunning way than in the DDR, where starvation wages and slashed car tires were unheard of. Schön cannot offer any accounts of his own bad experiences in present-day Germany. "I'm better off today than I was before," he says, "but I am not more satisfied."


    Schön's reasoning is less about cool logic than it is about settling scores. What makes him particularly dissatisfied is "the false picture of the East that the West is painting today." The DDR, he says, was "not an unjust state," but "my home, where my achievements were recognized." Schön doggedly repeats the story of how it took him years of hard work before starting his own business in 1989 -- before reunification, he is quick to add. "Those who worked hard were also able to do well for themselves in the DDR." This, he says, is one of the truths that are persistently denied on talk shows, when western Germans act "as if eastern Germans were all a little stupid and should still be falling to their knees today in gratitude for reunification." What exactly is there to celebrate, Schön asks himself?


    "Rose-tinted memories are stronger than the statistics about people trying to escape and applications for exit visas, and even stronger than the files about killings at the Wall and unjust political sentences," says historian Wolle.


    These are memories of people whose families were not persecuted and victimized in East Germany, of people like 30-year-old Birger, who says today: "If reunification hadn't happened, I would also have had a good life."


    Life as a DDR Citizen

    After completing his university degree, he says, he would undoubtedly have accepted a "management position in some business enterprise," perhaps not unlike his father, who was the chairman of a farmers' collective. "The DDR played no role in the life of a DDR citizen," Birger concludes. This view is shared by his friends, all of them college-educated children of the former East Germany who were born in 1978. "Reunification or not," the group of friends recently concluded, it really makes no difference to them. Without reunification, their travel destinations simply would have been Moscow and Prague, instead of London and Brussels. And the friend who is a government official in Mecklenburg today would probably have been a loyal party official in the DDR.


    The young man expresses his views levelheadedly and with few words, although he looks slightly defiant at times, like when he says: "I know, what I'm telling you isn't all that interesting. The stories of victims are easier to tell."


    Birger doesn't usually mention his origins. In Duisburg, where he works, hardly anyone knows that he is originally from East Germany. But on this afternoon, Birger is adamant about contradicting the "victors' writing of history." "In the public's perception, there are only victims and perpetrators. But the masses fall by the wayside."


    This is someone who feels personally affected when Stasi terror and repression are mentioned. He is an academic who knows "that one cannot sanction the killings at the Berlin Wall." However, when it comes to the border guards' orders to shoot would-be escapees, he says: "If there is a big sign there, you shouldn't go there. It was completely negligent."


    This brings up an old question once again: Did a real life exist in the midst of a sham? Downplaying the dictatorship is seen as the price people pay to preserve their self-respect. "People are defending their own lives," writes political scientist Schroeder, describing the tragedy of a divided country.



    Der Spiegel:

    Homesick for a Dictatorship: Majority of Eastern Germans Feel Life Better under Communism

    Glorification of the German Democratic Republic is on the rise two decades after the Berlin Wall fell. Young people and the better off are among those rebuffing criticism of East Germany as an "illegitimate state." In a new poll, more than half of former eastern Germans defend the GDR. Julia Bonstein 3. July 2009.

    There were many similarities between a divided Ireland and a divided Germany.
    There are no simple solutions.
    I always admired the freedom and independence that duchies and regions had in Holy Roman Empire / German Empire. People are never best ruled from the regional big town, the national capital or Brussels.

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