Tiefensee says former East Germans get no respect

DDP/The Local
DDP/The Local - [email protected] • 7 May, 2009 Updated Thu 7 May 2009 08:52 CEST
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German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, who is also commissioner for issues concerning eastern Germany, complained Thursday that there was too little respect for the achievements of former East German citizens.

While the German Democratic Republic (GDR) may have been a communist dictatorship, it was also a country with “successful biographies and prosperous people,” he told daily Berliner Zeitung, adding that these facts are often overlooked.

Today the former East is ahead in technology and manages to create more jobs than the rest of the country, he said.

“We are proud of this and expect respect for it,” the former mayor of eastern city Leipzig told the paper.

Furthermore, East Germans don’t need lessons in how to handle their history, he said, adding that "all of Germany takes our dictatorship experiences to teach the strengths of democracy," but many students know little else of GDR history.

Tiefensee also accused Chancellor Angela Merkel of keeping her experience as an East German in the background instead of using it as a reference for her decisions.

Tiefensee’s comments come almost 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Last week German President Horst Köhler also said people from the formerly communist eastern half of the country deserved more respect from their western cousins. He told daily Bild that Germans need to understand that the lives of easterners aren’t “worthless” just because their economy failed.

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