Germany 01 Oct 2014 00:00
Germany and particularly the city of Berlin celebrates the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall on 09 November next month, also marking the passage of the first generation which has experienced a post-Soviet world since the post-war years of the mid-twentieth century. An acute reminder of this situation occurred recently during earlier October celebrations in Leipzig, which is now a thriving city in former East Germany. It was here that initial protests in late 1989 helped accelerate the demise of the then totalitarian government and an ultimate opening of the Berlin Wall just weeks later.
Now it is often possible to meet "Wende Kinder," or children-currently young adults- from the turning point or changing times; those born from 1989 and immediately afterwards with no personal memory of the Berlin Wall or Soviet-directed period before that. It is a cultural phenomenon that arises as history becomes respective to its living members who can reflect on collective circumstance. It also becomes an indicator as to how the passage of time can and will affect all of us, now living through the early 21st century together, towards the future's future. Paralleling this historic period compels the comparison towards current events and Russian resurgence onto the global stage of attempted hegemony 25 years later, and urges the premise to question if history repeats through adjusted phases.
As a result of German reunification over two decades later, initial promises have predominantly not been met for a thriving eastern Germany due to disparity in employment opportunities which led to large population migrations to the more prosperous West. Additionally, contrasts in national character between both East and West have contributed to each region retaining their unique identities. Essentially, due to the extended simultaneous reign of the two differing German cultures, fundamental differences still outweigh the similarities. Yet, according to an Interior Ministry Report on German Unity released in 2013, despite the national contrasts, eastern Germany is improving in several ways and remains attractive for its returning inhabitants, signaling an appeal towards their origins despite persistent yet slowly improving economic inequalities.
It remains questionable if the social experiment to reunify Germany has become a reasonable success as a consensus about political assurances made a quarter of a century earlier have so far not been able to be fully achieved. A nostalgic movement has also arisen in several locations, longing for the "Ostalgie" of former times while also enhancing a merchandising appeal for the German tourism industry. The prevailing mood within Berlin and beyond during November's historic occasion will underscore the actual and speculative factors driving the world's fourth largest economy, while reflecting on whether or not the bridge between the East and West might ever occur.