“Maybe the people in the West didn't always show enough respect for the individual achievements of most East Germans after the Wall fell,” Köhler told the Tuesday edition of the Bild newspaper.
Köhler, who is hoping to be re-elected at the country's largely symbolic head of state next month, praised the resilience of easterners during the 40-year communist dictatorship and how they coped with the dramatic upheaval as the regime collapsed in the autumn of 1989.
“We shouldn't underestimate how big of a change reunification meant to the East. Some who deserved it perhaps weren't allowed to save enough face,” he told the paper.
He also said many westerners – who were often considered arrogant and condescending to easterners in the years following reunification in 1990 – needed to realise that lives of most easterners weren't “worthless” only because their economy had failed.
Köhler said he was certain Germans still were happy with reunification despite having sobering reality replace initial euphoria: “The nation and the Germans want unity. It's our greatest good fortune.”