10 years later, reunified Germany looks back, ahead

Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Reunification, with all its difficulties and shortcomings, is a rousing success, and the overwhelming majority of Germans, both east and west, know and appreciate that.

But what the Germans do have to learn, post-1990, is that 40 years of division, and almost 60 years of dictatorship in the east, left deeper scars than anyone could have imagined. Some breaks with tradition, some ruptures, cannot be repaired with subsidies. Some of the wounds of division and the problems of unification simply cannot be healed by monetary means.

Is there a day other than Oct. 3, the day on which 10 years ago German unity was signed and delivered, on which it would be more fitting to suspend democratic party conflicts and evoke the communality of the republic? In this, our elected representatives, who should have been setting an example, missed a great chance to polish their image.

-- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

(Frankfurt, Germany)

Oct. 1


Reunified Germany looks to the future with serenity and also with a justifiable pride. The joining of east and west has been quickly successful. It has renewed entire cities, spawned new factories, improved an obsolete infrastructure. The economy has diversified and the standard of living has improved.

Of course, there are still differences between the two parts. Firstly material differences: the former East Germany still has not succeeded in conquering the accumulated economic isolation of four decades of communism. Unemployment is around 17 percent, wages are lower than in the West, and many western investors are reluctant to cross the old frontier that separated the two Germanys.

But there are also psychological differences: The wall fell nearly 11 years ago, but it remains in place in many people's heads. The privileged class of the Communist regime mourns the old times, when they enjoyed material advantages and social consideration, and the unemployed compare the capitalist system -- a generator of unemployment -- with the Communist system, which gave a job to everybody, even if that could not be justified economically.

The material and psychological divide will tend to decrease. To overcome it is above all a question of time and of new generations. Basically, 10 years is little if you consider the enormous differences that separated the two Germanys at the beginning of the '90s.

-- La Regione Ticino (Bellinzona, Switzerland)

Oct. 3

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