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Germany after 30 years of unification: A gift to Europe

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    Thirty years ago, Germany was eventually united after four decades of division. However, when it comes to symbolism, October 3 is actually not the most iconic day. This is only a milestone of legal significance, but the event actually marks the end of the Cold War, for the abolition of the East-West confrontation on the European continent that took place a year earlier, when the Berlin Wall collapsed.

    Angela Merkel & Ursula von der Leyen

    Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and 

    President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

    West German Chancellor Helmut Kohn said that “He will bring brilliant scenes to East Germany” but also admitted that it would take at least one generation for the differences between East Germany and West Germany to fade. After 30 years, it can be said that the reunification of Germany has succeeded.

    Every year the German government issues a report called “Report on the German unification” and this report must be published by October 3 each year. In this report of the year, released on September 16, the Minister in charge of new states, or East German states, Marco Wanderwitz said that although some areas took longer to unify than expected, overall it can be said that Germany has unified successfully.

    The disappearance of East German - West Germany concepts is mostly sensed when the borders of the European Union have been pushed away from Germany. In the past, the Berlin Wall was the boundary dividing two ideologically hostile blocs, on the one hand was the Western countries, on the other hand was the socialist bloc led by the Soviet Union. Now, when the old boundary is abolished, the border of West Germany has extended to Poland, and to some extent Ukraine, which is close to Russia, creating a new strategic tension, though not comparable to the Cold War.

    Not finished yet

    Chancellor Angela Merkel in a speech said that the process of German reunification has been officially completed, but that of German people unification has not completed yet. Many people in the former East Germany still considered themselves “the second class citizen”.

    Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel comes from East Germany, and she is the greatest symbol of the successful harmony between East and West Germany over the past 30 years, when being a young scientist, she was guided and promoted to the current high position by former German Prime Minister Helmut Kohn.

    However, the case of Mrs. Merkel is also an exception, because after 30 years of unification, the gap between the states in East Germany and those in West Germany is still relatively clear. In economy, the income per capita of the eastern states takes up only 73% of the western states. Of course, this figure should only be considered relatively because in 1990 East Germany's per capita income was only 37% of West Germany's. More importantly, after 30 years of unification, there are still many people in the east who feel that East Germany was annexed, rather than an equal reunification, because West Germany is still prominent in not only economical but political and academic fields.

    The average salary of East German workers is 15% lower than those of the same position in West Germany. Among 500 largest companies in Germany, only 37 are located in the east. Other statistics show that, although the eastern states account for 17% of the German population, only 3% of original East Germans are on the boards of the 30 largest German companies, 2% in the major legal agencies and none of them is in the 80 Directors or Principals of the Universities.

    This is a fact that is creating political extremes in the eastern states of Germany, turning it into a basement for parties like the right-wing groups “Alternative for Germany” or AfD in short. Last year, on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, surveys also showed that less than 40% of East Germans considered German reunification a success.

    Those numbers show that Germany still needs one more generation to completely reunify.

    A gift to Europe

    For Germany, in order to successfully maintain the unification, in recent years, Germany has made great efforts to look back on history. The Germans believe that 30 years is a long enough time to reopen some pages of history. Even though it’s painful and complicated, it’s necessary to remove all doubts about the process of unification.

    A hot topic in Germany is the Treuhands, the Commission assigned to privatize 13,000 factories in East Germany between 1990-1994, resulting in the unemployment of about 2.5 million workers and causing social unrest in Eastern Germany during the 1990s. Many people believe that it is necessary to look directly at the failures of Treuhand to find out the cause of the current distinction and gap between East and West Germany.

    Many people believe that it is necessary to look directly at the failures of Treuhand to find out the cause of the current discrimination and gap between East and West Germany.

    In addition, not until archives of old East Germany, including those of the state security service of the East German - Stasi, were declassified, did more and more people argue that it was necessary to be transparent about what happened so as to look straight into the future.

    Over the years, whenever it comes to the anniversaries of the fall of the Berlin Wall or the German reunification day, the requests for historical research have increased, especially in East Germany.

    However, by looking back on what happened, it’s clear that the disappearance of West Germany and East Germany concepts has great implications for the whole of Europe.

    In 2019, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that “German reunification is Europe's gift to Germany”, but analysts also assess that “German reunification is a gift to Europe”. ”. This is because after 1990, the reunification of Germany strongly promoted the process of European integration, which Germany played an important role in signing the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and shaping the European Union as it is today.

    After 30 years of unification, a unified Germany, none of East German-West German concepts, is the most solid economic and political pillar for the European Union.

    Analysts estimate this is the “European moment” of Germany, not only because Germany is holding the rotating presidency of the EU, but also because the past has witnessed important strategic changes in the thinking of Germany to Europe.

    In May 2020, Merkel's government for the first time abandoned its hard line principle on public debt to accept debt repayments with other countries, thereby allowing Europe to mobilize the largest economic recovery package in history, which counts up to 750 billion euros.

    The magnitude of this event is comparable to the “Marshall Plan” to rebuild Europe after World War II, and Germany's strategic shift is considered the most important step towards European reunification after the Treaty of Maastricht.

    Tags: German reunification, German Unity Day, East Germany, West Germany, European countries, European Union, German history, German politics

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