GERMANY - REUNIFICATION

A website for a better reunification

Just like Herma Michl, born in communist East Germany, Germans can now access a government website to recall memories of the past and therefore accelerate the process for a better reunification.

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Herma Michl, born in communist East Germany, was 40 when the Wall came down on the November 9th 1989. It was on this bridge that she made her first steps into West Berlin just days later. Within a few months her life had been turned upside down: “I was asleep the night the Wall fell, so it wasn’t until the next morning that I found out what happened. 12 months later I had no job. Every weekend, I traveled to the West to discover the rest of the city.”

Such memories of this historic event can now be stored in a new online archive set up by the government on January 9th. Where were you when the Wall came down? What do you think of the reunification? What still needs to be done? Three simple questions which allow Germans from the former East and West to share their hopes and fears. Herma Michl: “It’s true that wages and pensions are still lower in the East. But I still wouldn’t want to live as I did, back before the Wall fell. “ The findings will be put towards an official study being compiled about reunification, which will be passed on to the minister in charge of developing East Germany. Hans-Ludger Dienel, Director of the Center for Technology and Society: “The reunification created a whole new Germany, made up of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. This gives the country enormous potential, and it’s this that we want to bring out through dialogue.” The Klein family grew up in Western Germany. For the son, Maurice, the Wall is pretty much ancient history: “I’ve heard about what happened. But I didn’t see it.”

But for his father, reunification is a process which is far from complete. Peter Klein: “German reunification will only really be complete once both sides make their expectations more realistic, and when the economic situation both in East and West Germany improves.” According to one poll published this week, 25% of East Germans see themselves as losing out from the reunification. And 40 % of West Germans say their situation is worse now than before 1989.  Herma Michl: “Politics can’t really do much to bring Germans together. People have to do that themselves, by telling each other their stories and seeing where they live.” According to research carried out by the Centre for Technology and Society, it will take another 10 years to achieve true unity between West and East.
 

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