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Germany

Nobel Laureate Guenter Grass: Unification Still Eludes Germany

One of Germany's most prominent authors, Guenter Grass, has said Germany is not yet at peace with the country's unification, according to an interview to be published Thursday.

Berliners sing and dance atop the wall to celebrate the opening of East-West German borders

Guenter Grass says the unification of Germany is only a reality on paper

"I thought it was great that the division is over," he told the German weekly Die Zeit. "After all, I didn't just see it as a division of Germany, but a division of Europe."

However, the Nobel literature laureate added that, almost 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, "unification has not yet occurred -- unity has been achieved, but only on paper."

Grass, who is publishing his diary of the year 1990 at the end of this month, admitted that he hadn't fully predicted the turn of events.

"One of my worries was that the annexation of East Germany, with Berlin as the capital, could create a centrally governed state," the author said. "Thankfully that has not happened."

In other respects though, he said his worst fears were realized.

"All the problems were supposed to be solved with money, but that was just on loan," he said.

Costly unification

Guenter Grass

Grass says money could not solve all of Germany's problems

The author said that the unification process, funded by an estimated 171 billion euros ($221.4 billion) in extra borrowings, set the foundations in Germany for the "predatory capitalism" that has led to the current financial crisis.

Grass won the Nobel literature prize in 1999. His best-known work is "The Tin Drum," an allegorical novel set in the town of his birth, Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.

In 2006, the leading leftist admitted having joined the Nazis' elite force Waffen SS, as a teenager in 1944. Many of his books deal with the subject of post-war German guilt.

The 20th anniversary of the end of communism, symbolized most dramatically by the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, is being marked in Germany by a series of events throughout the year.

German unification was finalized in the following year, on Oct. 3, 1990.

There are still significant differences between the former states of East and West Germany, visible in unemployment rates and population figures, as many east Germans move west in pursuit of job opportunities and improved living conditions.

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