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Germany marks 20 years since reunification treaty

AFP · 31 Aug 2010, 21:28

Published: 31 Aug 2010 21:28 GMT+02:00

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Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, in a speech at the Kronprinzpalast in Berlin where the treaty was signed, said it marked "unification" of the two countries rather membership of one to the other.

But he admitted that mistakes were made, adding that "Germany might have adopted more from East Germany than just the little green man," a symbol on traffic lights indicating when pedestrians may cross a road. The Amplemann is one of the few cultural artifacts to have survived the

demise of East Germany.

The treaty was signed less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and just two months before the reunification of the two halves of Germany, on October 3, 1990.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, also attended Tuesday's celebration.

But the state premier of Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin which used to belong to East Germany, this week spoke of the "annexation" by West Germany of the East.

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Matthias Platzeck, a Social Democrat, used the highly evocative word Anschluss which reminds Germans of Hitler's annexation of his birth country Austria in 1938.

The day of the signing of the treaty also marked the beginning of "de-industralisation of East Germany," Platzeck said.

"Unemployment came to nearly every family. For many of us this day isn't just one of good thoughts," he added.

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Twenty years after reunification, the unemployment rate is twice as high in the East as in the West.

According to a study out Tuesday, nearly one in 10 Germans wishes there were still two countries.

'Social report 2010', a series of polls by the Federal Association for Solidarity, found nine percent of eastern Germans wanted East Germany back and 11 percent of western Germans wished the Wall were still in place.

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Your comments about this article

02:03 September 1, 2010 by Bishopbayern
The east should be more thankful! And all that so called full employment that they had was based on a bankrupt economy! If the DDR was so great it would have sustained its own people but ir couldnt and collapsed. Now its the wests fault for the east living off the fat of the land for years and making goods no one wanted! Stop bleating and get back to work.
09:07 September 1, 2010 by 9900lawre
United they stood & Divided they fell, All of this story and the comments that follow suggest that it wasn't just a wall that seperated Germany.

No body likes paying tax for others but we do as part of a United community.

20 years ago was meant to mark an end of an era and the end of why division was created in the first place.
09:51 September 1, 2010 by wood artist
Looking in from the outside, some things seem obvious, even if they were painful.

The two countries had radically different governmental systems, so a lot had to change. Like it or not, the system in the East had little to offer.

The two societies were radically different. The East still lived under the premise of "give up freedom and we will offer you security" that was the model from way back when. For the most part, citizens had grown up under that model so it was what they knew. It was unsustainable, but it was what they were comfortable with.

The democracy of the West was so different, and the culture shock was massive. Democracy offered (offers) much more freedom but that comes at the expense of personal responsibility. No longer would the government be telling you what to do, what to think, and promising you a job. Again, a massive culture shock for those from the East.

The East German economy, had it been preserved in some fashion, wouldn't have been able to survive in a free market setting, just as the Russian economy wasn't able to sustain itself once Communism fell.

None of this says the pain that Germans on both sides of the old border feel isn't real. It's just that there is/was no other answer. Over time, I suspect many of those feelings will change, if only because the aging population will lose any reference to "the old ways." After all, there is a generation now that has never known the wall.

15:30 September 1, 2010 by So36
OK, maybe we could just get rid of the Bavarians then...
16:36 September 1, 2010 by Beachrider
This is a good anniversary for Germany. Some areas of the FRG progressed differently from one another. The same for the DDR. Overall, progress of the Soviet-aligned states was dramatically less than the western-market economies.

I am glad that both FRG and DDR have disappeared from current nomenclature. No one should expect ex-DDR people to surrender to the FRG, but pragmatism indicates that assimilation will work. Assimilation is going too slowly, so expect some bitching about that (from both groups).

Germany might be overdue for more tax-advantages to companies that locate new factories and facilities in Mecklenberg, Brandenberg, etc. That kind of policy tends to reward the culture-changes that have moved too slowly.

But have fun with the reunified existence. Many of you are too young to remember the split , the Adenauer decisions and the Soviet/American over-presence that has largely abated since 21 years ago.
22:39 September 1, 2010 by Bishopbayern
Its bayern that pays for the easts benefits! get back to work. You should want to be Bayern rather than a clapped out state. Other former commie lands are doing ok. Why cant the east of germany
08:34 September 2, 2010 by 1FCK_1FCK
People wish for the DDR back because they had jobs & free medical care. Hardly things to sneeze at these days. It's easy to forget the bad stuff the longer it recedes into the past (apart from the Nazi era, which people still use to bash Germany.)
11:55 September 2, 2010 by frankiep
I have little sympathy for idiots that would rather live under a system like totalitarian communism - a system which was based on the murder of those who tried to leave and threat of murder of those who entertained the idea. If these leeches think so little of themselves that they would prefer to be imprisoned by their own government and threatened with death for trying to leave, all in exchange for "free medical care", then let them have it. Of course, when they finally realize that someone will actually have to pay for their "freebies" they will come crying to the West once again to save their sorry asses.
00:32 September 12, 2010 by Gretl
"Now if we could just shed Bavaria"

If only Kingdom of Bavaria would shed Germany! They don't need you, you need them, and they are tired of carrying your ass.

If only I was a Bavarian, I'd vote to secede. I can only dream....
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