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Sun Dec 27, 2015, 03:12 PM

How the Wall Fell

Thus, East Germans today enjoy democratic freedoms and cultural modernization, but are subjected to internal colonization as well as mass unemployment — a contradiction that also applies to the radical changes that occurred in other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Berlin Wall’s fall sparked dreams of a radically democratic East Germany. Unemployment and privatization followed instead.
by Bernd Gehrke 12-27-15

This fall marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of German reunification, the culmination of what the dominant narrative of the period calls the “Peaceful Revolution,” beginning with the popular uprisings in October–November 1989. In East German vernacular, this radical break with the Stalinist dictatorship is known as the Wende (“turn”), but in the political sense carries a meaning more akin to “change.”

Neither of these framings quite capture the contradictions of reunification and the way in which they prefigured similar developments in the process of European unification.

The political transformation of East Germany occurred at a remarkable speed — within a year the Stalinist political system of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) had not only collapsed, but been united with the West German state. This political unification was followed by an equally fast economic unification, which sparked an unprecedented wave of deindustrialization over the next three or four years.

Thus Germany experienced its own type of the Mezzogiorno effect: the new federal states of the East became in many ways analogous to southern Italy, characterized by high unemployment, low or even negative economic growth, and financial dependence on subsidies from the rest of the country. Not surprisingly, more than two million (out of a pre-Wende population of seventeen million) easterners have left the region since reunification, a number approaching the amount of refugees who fled the country before the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/12/reunification-east-germany-berlin-wall-unification-gdr-stasi/

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