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Berliners sing and dance atop the wall to celebrate the opening of East-West German borders November 10, 1989
The euphoria after the fall of the Berlin Wall has all but disappeared 20 years onImage: AP

Reunification Blues

DW staff (sp)
January 2, 2009

Almost 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, most Germans are disappointed at what the country has achieved since reunification, a new survey shows.


The survey carried out by Forsa for the Friday edition of the Berliner Zeitung daily found that the majority of the 1,000 Germans polled were dejected by the developments of the last two decades in the country.

"The euphoria that dominated after the fall of the Berlin Wall has largely disappeared," Forsa chief Manfred Guellner told news agency AFP.

Only 46 percent of Germans in the former communist east said their personal situation had improved. That number was as high as 71 percent in 1989.

According to the survey, every fourth person in eastern Germany believes that life is worse now in the eastern states than it was under communism until 1989. Only 39 percent believe they have profited from reunification.

The picture wasn't much different in western Germany where 40 percent said their lives had improved since the end of Communism; in 1989 that number was 52 percent.

Attitudes hardening, expert says

Guellner said attitudes and prejudices had hardened on both sides.

Whereas the eastern Germans think they have been exploited and got a raw deal, "western Germans have the feeling that they have simply footed the bill for eastern Germany," he said.

Helping depressed former East Germany has long been a priority for the German government. The eastern states are still struggling with massive unemployment and under-investment, and has one trillion dollars has already been transferred from west to east since reunification.

Separately, the Munich-based economic research institute Ifo predicted that the financial slowdown would widen the economic gap between eastern and western Germany.

"In the short-and long-term, the eastern German states will show worse economic growth rates than the western ones," Ifo economic expert Joachim Ragnitz told news agency AP.

Ragnitz pointed to eastern Germany's rapidly ageing population and the flight of younger people to western states as one of the prime reasons for the development, saying that only larger eastern cities such as Dresden, Potsdam or Leipzig would buck the trend.

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