German Reunification -20 Years Later
In 1989 mass demonstrations led to a collapse of the Berlin Wall. A year later, on October 3, 1990, East and West Germany were reunited, after being separate states for forty years. 20 years ago German Chancellor Helmut Kohl pushed unification forward and served as the architect of a united Germany. He promised East Germans blooming landscapes and a new western-style life. Not everyone in the western world wanted a united Germany. Great Britain and France were opposed because they thought Germany would become too powerful.
On the whole , German reunification has been a success. Much progress has been made in the eastern part of Germany in the last 20 years. City and towns have been modernized. Most East Germans are better off than they were 20 years ago. Eastern Germany has become a home to new industries, especially in the fields of biotechnology and renewable energy. Productivity is about 80% of the West German level, higher than any of the former Communist countries in Eastern Europe.
Berlin, a divided city for forty years, has won new importance and become the capital of a reunified Germany. Since 1990 the city has been expanding. The Reichstag building has been newly designed and the open Brandenburg Gate has become the symbol of unity.
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin - Symbol of German Reunification - Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de
However , many problems remain. Income is still lower than in the western part of Germany. Workers earn 20% less than their western colleagues. Unemployment in the eastern states is almost double the rate of western Germany. Since 1990 almost 1.5 million “Ossis” as the Eastern Germans are called, mostly higher educated and younger people, have moved from east to west in search of better jobs and more opportunities. Such a brain drain leaves an aging population behind.
Many easterners are disappointed because change and a better life have not come fast enough. They long for the good old days when the state cared for them. Today, most of them are supporters the Left Party, a successor to the Communist party of eastern Germany. Many East Germans still feel they are not accepted as equal citizens.
Although about half the Germans in the west say life before 1990 was better for them the majority think reunification was a good idea. The price they had to pay was very high. Since 1991 a 5.5% solidarity tax has been collected from the population. It has generated almost 200 billion Euros, most of which has gone into improving roads and building new infrastructure.
German reunification has also helped change the face and future of Europe. Without it new countries in the east and southeast of Europe would not have emerged so quickly. When Eastern Germany became a part of NATO the Warsaw Pact fell apart. The Euro zone would probably not exist today without a strong Germany.
The new states of Germany
- The Berlin Wall
- The Berlin Wall - 20 Years Later
- 1989 - The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe
- The Soviet Union
- aging = to become older
- billion = a thousand million
- biotechnology =to use living things to make drugs or medicine
- bloom = to become better, healthier
- brain drain = when educated or skilled people move away from their own country to a country where they can earn more
- chancellor = leader of a government
- collapse = break down
- disappointed = upset, sad
- divide = separate
- emerge = to come up
- equal = the same
- especially = above all
- expand = grow
- former = earlier, past
- generate = produce
- however = but
- importance = the quality of being important
- improve = to make better
- income = what you earn for the work you do
- long = wish
- majority = most of the people or things in a group
- on the whole = over all
- opportunity = chance to do something
- oppose = to be against
- productivity =how fast goods and products are produced
- progress = advancement , step forward
- renewable = something that can be used over and over again
- reunite = to join together again
- successor = someone who comes after
- supporter = a person who is a follower of a group, organization or party
- unemployment = being out of work; people who have no job
- unity = union, being together