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Many eastern Germans sympathize with decision to build Berlin Wall

The Local · 3 Aug 2011, 09:10

Published: 03 Aug 2011 09:10 GMT+02:00

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Seventy-two percent condemned the closing of the border to the West on August 13, 1961, which effectively made East Germans prisoners of their own country, in a survey for Super Illu magazine.

They concurred with the statement, when asked about the construction of the Berlin Wall: "I cannot understand it. The Wall brought endless suffering to the Germans. No state has the right to lock up its citizens."

But a full 20 percent agreed with the statement: "I can understand it. The GDR had the right as a sovereign state to protect its borders," referring to the German Democratic Republic, East Germany's official name.

The communist authorities built the Berlin Wall to stop a mass exodus of citizens to the West.

But it called it an "Anti-Fascist Protection Wall" and claimed it was erected to guard against invasion from capitalist West Germany, which it considered the successor state to Nazi Germany.

Asked about lingering divisions between east and west Germans nearly 22 years after the Wall was torn down in a bloodless revolution, 83 percent said they thought there was still an "invisible wall" running through the country.

Only 15 percent said they thought the differences between those who had lived in the West and the East had been surmounted.

The poll was conducted among 1,017 east Germans between July 4 and 6 with a margin of error of 2.6 percent.

Eastern Germany still trails far behind the west in terms of economic prosperity, with a jobless rate which at 11 percent is nearly twice as high.

Story continues below…

Many easterners condemn western "arrogance" during national reunification in 1990, as positive aspects of the communist state such as greater gender equality in the workplace and a better childcare network were lost.

Germany will mark the 50th anniversary next week with ceremonies in honour of the more than 600 people who are thought to have died trying to escape East Germany in the 28 years the Wall was standing.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

07:59 August 3, 2011 by The-ex-pat
1,017 people asked, a good indication of what the other 20 million think. Ask the correct age group and you will have every one believing that the wall should go back up. Pointless survey.....
10:36 August 3, 2011 by Kennneth Ingle
This is a question of where or when you were born. I am old enough to remember the German borders of 1937. My daughter at one time thought Germany ended at the wall where the GDR started. Since 1989 a Germany exists which no longer includes the old eastern territories.

For the west, the partial re-unification has brought with it, not only increased expences, but in addition, many politicians who had "enjoyed" a communist education only given to those loyal to party politics. The wall therfore might in some ways also had advantages
11:04 August 3, 2011 by wood artist
The wall, and the regime that created it, had some "advantages." At least, that is how a few people would see it. After all, they didn't have to make decisions, they didn't have to worry about which candidate would get their vote, and a whole lot of other decisions were taken (or kept) out of their hands.

While that isn't remotely "freedom" it does offer a sense of stability, and some people thrive in that environment. So, tossing those folks into a confusing world where they are forced to make choices can be overwhelming. It makes sense they would long for the "good old days."

Also, if you grew up continually hearing about how the wall protected you from the evil on the other side, you'd begin to believe it. Yes, you could probably hear West German radio and other news sources, but day in and day out you heard what the regime wanted you to hear. You knew nothing else, so...the world seemed to be the way it was. If you were told all about the terrible Nazis, and then were told that they were on the other side of the wall, well.....

In short, these answers aren't terribly surprising. Sad, perhaps, but not surprising.
13:38 August 3, 2011 by jbaker
Some people like to be imprisoned and controlled. That is why Dictators are allowed to take control of a country(Untl they are booted out by those who live for Freedom).
14:13 August 3, 2011 by derExDeutsche
'Ask the correct age group and you will have every one believing that the wall should go back up.'

I am assuming you're referring to the 18-35 age group...
14:14 August 3, 2011 by harcourt
I know many ex-East Germans, some are relations of my wife, and basically they all dislike the lack of friendship and helpfulness, plus the materialism, which is exhibited by most West Germans.
15:52 August 3, 2011 by catjones
Walls went up inside men's minds as well and are harder to bring down.
18:45 August 3, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
There is a similarity between East Germans and Russians. After the end of Communism, the Russians didn't know how to make use of the freedom that was handed to them. Alcoholism and the mafia/black market is a plague of their current society. Some people might still prefer to be told how to live, and with it may feel a false sense of security and stability. Propoganda can be very effective. East Germans should realize how fortunate they are not to be persecuted for practicing religion, saying what they think, and pursuing their happiness.
20:55 August 3, 2011 by harcourt
I see the right-wingers are out in force again. This is a heaven sent topic for them.
23:17 August 3, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, the truly interesting thing about humanity is that ambitious individuals and nations have been searching the ideal form of government and way of life for thousands of years. One nation after another have fallen over the history of time.

Neither Standard Communism, or even Conventional Democracy have lead to real prosperity. And so, what style of government would deliver "Consistent" stability, peace and prosperity?

I personally believe that a system of government that is strictly based upon "Structured Democracy" would be the most effective. If I were to discuss new concepts with government leaders, I would recommend this one. No no nation has ever tried it. It would be interesting if the US were to consider it.

As we can all see, America has a real need for effective solutions.
02:06 August 4, 2011 by germinator
this photo is printed backwards. if you're walking toward the bridges, the wall would be on your right, not left.
07:07 August 4, 2011 by lordkorner
An incorrectly printed photograph,now why does that not surprise me?
11:27 August 4, 2011 by EqualPercent
Thanks for the article, it's hard to image how difficult it might have been being there. Yet, the fear was real being a raised by a parent with extreme phobia of being captured and locked up for leaving her country of origin. Letters were opened and reseal from relatives, friends, and the paranoia never went away for my parent. All her life she suffered from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which she passed on to her children. It's unbelievable the damage fear causes, including the negative reality she lived within her mind, and what she created for others. Wall or no wall, fear was real, and is real for her.
11:46 August 4, 2011 by harcourt
EqualPercent #13

You describe exactly the situation in most Middle East and many African countries. So we should sympathise with them when in desperation they leave their countries. We should at least make them feel welcome here in Europe.
15:05 August 4, 2011 by Russell Swenson
easy to have an opinion about something you did not experience.

the wall was erected to stop the huge exodus of east Germans to the west.

i was at potdamer platz watching the masons starting to lay blocks

across the platz at 4:30am that August morning.

fortunate to be a part of the American army intelligence effort from 1960-62.

the west German government moved thousands of germans fleeing the east.

every day east Germans walked out of east Berlin and got free transportation

to Marienfelde where they were later flown out of Templehof to the west with jobs


to hear their comments of life in East Germany was chilling.
01:31 August 5, 2011 by yourholiness
Heck, I know a lot of west germans who would like the wall rebuilt twice as high.
18:00 August 5, 2011 by GeeAitch

As an African, I was surprised at the comment above from EqualPercent.

Unlike the Berlin Wall, African borders are porous. Try crossing between Kenya and Uganda or Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The boundary is just a line in the sand.

Europe, like the USA, has an open immigration policy compared with most African countries. It is relatively easy for us to gain residence overseas compared with others moving to Africa.

Obtaining residence in Tanzania, Botswana, Ethiopia, even South Africa, is all but impossible. Xenophobia is negligible in Europe compared with here in Africa.

Worst I have known in trying to work in India. Their immigration policy is downright racist.

EqualPercent, come travel around and live in Africa before you accuse us of living behind barriers like the Berlin Wall.
20:21 August 5, 2011 by McNair Kaserne
I met 14 East Germans who did not want to be there. I met them when they were escaping to the west in the back of my mini van, and 30 years later, it is the thing I have done in my life that I am most proud of......

The incident that inclined me towards becoming an escape helper took place when we were doing our "Wall Tour" at the end of the "School of Standards" that personnel newly assigned to the Berlin Brigade were required to take. We were standing on one of those elevated platforms looking into East Berlin. A mother and her young son were walking towards us along the sidewalk in front of a building. There was a VOPO about 30m behind them just standing there as they walked away from him. He was not really watching them, but Mom knew he was was there. We waved to them, and the young boy looked up to Mom. She gave his hand a little jerk, and he put his eyes to the front and did not look back at us. They kept walking, and when they got to the corner of the building, they turned left, took a few steps to be out of the view of the VOPO, then turned and waved, with big smiles on their faces. Some time later when I was asked to participate, how could I say no?
21:06 August 5, 2011 by onemark
@ LogicGuy:

I'd be interested in your definition of "structured democracy". I've never heard the term before. Thanks.
00:15 August 6, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, over the last 234 years, a Conventional Democracy has clearly proven to be very inconsistent. This is true, simply because it is based upon a very high degree of Liberalism. It's basically every man for himself. The serious lack of laws means that it will forever be an "Unpredictable Roller Coaster."

In a Structured Democracy, citizens would still be allowed to vote for whom ever they choose. And there would still be term limits and so fort. But there would be very distinct laws based exclusively upon morality and mathematics,

written into the Constitution, which would prevent corruption and the destructive inconsistency.

Based on observable facts, Conventional Democracy is illogical. It will never lead any nation to real prosperity. I can only hope that the majority of Americans will soon realize this, and then commit to a form of Democracy that would actually lead to consistent, long-term success.
08:26 August 8, 2011 by whatsup
As a foreigner living in Germany (quite a few years) I can't help but be astonished at the way the western Germans see those from eastern Germany...... you would think they are foreigners and not of their own. I would have thought they would welcome them with open arms ... I only go according to comments I have heard. Very sad.
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