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31 Aug, 2010 02:30

Germany marks 20 years since reunification

Germany is marking the twenty-year anniversary since it was formally reunited on August 31, 1990, after a treaty sealed the dissolution of East Germany and its integration into the West.

The capital, Berlin, along with the entire country, was split in half as part of Germany’s post-World War II occupation by the Allied powers. East Germany, formally known as the German Democratic Republic, came under control of the Soviet Union, with the American, British and French forces occupying West Germany.

As part of a series of events that paved the way toward the breakdown of the East German regime, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was instrumental in unifying the nation.

Twenty years on, however, many Germans in the Eastern part of the country say they still feel like second-class citizens. Unemployment in the region is twice as high as in the West, where people also earn approximately 30% more.

Christoph Hoerstel, German government and business consultant, admits the feeling of inequality that exists between the two parts of the country. The economic state of Eastern and Western Germany before the reunification, he says, was very different, which made Eastern Germany, basically bankrupt at that time, feel like it was being “taken in” by the better-off Western Germany.

“The political weight and the power was very clearly on the side of the Westerners, and no doubt many Easterners must have felt annexed,” Hoerstel explained.

“We have this… minority feeling among many Easterners that they feel that the majority of Westerners is not doing not what they would like to have done in their part of the country,” Hoerstel said, adding however that there is a tendency towards the leveling of wages in Germany.