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Germany

Mental Wall Still Divides West and East Germans

On the 42nd anniversary of the Berlin Wall on Wednesday, a survey has shown that about two-thirds of Germans are convinced that more than 13 years after the fall of the Cold War symbol, a "wall in the head" still exists between East and West Germans. The study carried out by the Forsa opinion research institute found that 62 percent of those surveyed spoke of a "mental wall," with East Germans representing that opinion more strongly at 73 percent. At the same time a working group set up to investigate the number of deaths on the former communist East German border has discovered that a total of 1,008 people were killed by border guards, 215 of them alone on the Berlin Wall. That raises the last statistic estimates by a further 23 persons. Politicians in Germany are using the anniversary to warn against the dangers of letting the cruelties of the GDR slip from memory. "We must learn from history and try to make it clear to the younger generation, why the totalitarian system in the GDR was allowed to last for so long," Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said.