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Ossis and Wessis fade away

Volker Wagener / db
September 25, 2015

Well done but not yet perfect - that's how Germans see their state, their society 25 years after reunification. Deutsche Welle wanted a closer look and commissioned a survey.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

There are fewer "Ossis" and "Wessis" in Germany these days, Joachim Gauck noted recently, with quite some satisfaction.

The German President is right. A quarter of a century after reunification, a feeling of unity dominates prevails, in particular among under 30-year-olds, according to an infratest dimap survrey. Terms like "Ossi" for East Germans and "Wessi" for West Germans aren't heard as often anymore. On behalf of Deutsche Welle, the pollsters in mid-September questioned more than 1,000 Germans aged 18 and older about their attitude to unification.

In a nutshell: Born in Dortmund but raised in Dresden - west or east no longer shape people's identity.

Optimistic youth

Ninety percent of people aged 18 to 29 were convinced that German unity is a model for other countries.

Infografik Einstellungen zur Wiedervereinigung Englisch

More than three out of four of the younger generation feel that unity is a success - clearly more so than their parents and grandparents. Even in instances where merging hasn't proven so easy, people born around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall take a sympathetic view: only 58 percent feel unification remains unfinished. People who only know about the Berlin Wall from books and stories have little interest in the costs of unification. Only 30 percent felt that too much money flowed into unity.

Along with the fundamentally contented view of Germans born after unification, it's not surprising that this generation also took a positive personal view of unity. Two-thirds of the interviewees aged 18 to 29 say they benefit from unification, while only one out of two of the older interviewees felt that was the case.

Distinctions become blurred

Unemployment in the east is still higher than in the west. All the same, two out of three East Germans are satisfied with the state of unity - ten percent less than in the west. Asked whether the unification process is by now completed, East Germans are more critical than West Germans.

On the other hand, eight out of ten interviewees say that German unification is exemplary and could serve as a model for others. Here, East and West agree.

Infografik Persönliche Folgen der Wiedervereinigung Englisch

Germans between the Baltic Sea and what is know as "Saxon Switzerland", a hill region southeast of Dresden, were more reserved in their assessment of unity's success, but they took a positive view of their own personal experience with unity. More than two thirds of East Germans say they have benefited from unity, while across the nation, one out of six said the fall of the Berlin Wall and unification have had unfavorable consequences.

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