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Differences Between East and West German Societies After Unification

Economy

Farm-size
Farms in the East tend to be large, as they are the remnant of the collective farming of GDR. In the West, the farms are private and small in size. 

Most of East German industry, formerly state owned, was bought by West German capitalists, and quickly decommissioned, as they attempted to make a quick profit. For example, Clara Zetkin factory, which used to produce textiles:

Clara Zetkin factory today

Clara Zetkin factory today

“Despite competition from countries with lower wages, textile products from Elsterberg remained in demand – until the facility suddenly shut down in 2009, despite its full order books. “We were so angry,” Haupt recalls. Specifically, the workers were angry at the factory’s last owners, the ENKA Group from Wuppertal and the ICI Group from Frankfurt am Main. “They were never concerned with finding a buyer for the factory. Their intention from the start was simply to shut it down,” Haupt claims. He believes the owners were only interested in selling off the factory’s equipment, which has since been disassembled and rebuilt in Poland and India. Only the expensive environmental protection system, once so important to the factory’s works council, wasn’t shipped along with the rest of the equipment".

“West German investors, it turned out, weren’t interested in East Germany’s often inefficient and environmentally questionable factories. Within three months, 150,000 people were out of work, while another half a million were handed reduced working hours. By the time Treuhand wrapped up its work in 1994, some 64 percent of workers in the “new” German federal states – the ones that had previously comprised the GDR – had lost their jobs. The “flourishing landscape, where it pays to live and work” that Chancellor Helmut Kohl promised East Germans had failed to materialize.”

The Guardian writes: 

“number of factories (in the East) … were bought by west German industrialists and deliberately run into the ground to scotch competition”.

In “East Germany’s Transitional Economy”, by John Hall and Udo Ludwig, we read:

“Through Treuhandanstalt privatization, the productive assets (stocks) of the previous East German nation (and which are now geographically located in the East German region) essentially were transferred from East German to West German ownership”.

“In addition to the transfer of stocks of productive assets, 40 percent of the land surface of the former GDR fell to Treuandanstalfs portfolio. These included Volkseigen Gueter (public lands). Most of these were state forests. Another portion were Staatsgueter (state-owned farms). It appears that all of this stock was transferred to the ownership portfolios of West Germans.”

“Rules for property restitution were spelled out clearly in Article 41 of Germany's Unification Treaty. Property that had been taken over during the GDR days were to be returned as property rather than as financial compensation {Rueckgabe vor Entschaedigung)… By 1994, 2,170,000 claims had been filed for the return of real estate (typically lots, houses, and apartment buildings).”

Russian language “Perspectives” says that East Germany today is in effect a colony of West Germany:

Privatization of the former “socialist property” has increased the feeling of colonization in the former GDR. As a result of privatization only 5% of property has remained in the hands of East Germans; 85% has found its way to West Germans and 10% went to foreign owners. Left-leaning scientists from investigation center in Berlin-Brandenbourg see East Germany as “a region with capitalist market economy without own capital and own capitalists”… Most of East German factories have lost their technical and economic independence and function as “satellites” of several Western concerns, totally dependent on their owners…” Приватизация прежней «социалистической собственности» также усилила ощущение колонизации в бывшей ГДР. В результате приватизации только 5% этой собственности осталось у восточных немцев, 85% попало в руки западных немцев и 10% досталось иностранным гражданам. В связи с этим нельзя просто отмахнуться от оценок ученых левой ориентации из исследовательского центра Берлин–Брандербург, квалифицирующих Восточную Германию как «регион с капиталистической рыночной экономикой без собственного капитала и собственных капиталистов»… Большинство восточногерманских предприятий утратили свою технологическую и экономическую самостоятельность и функционируют как «сателлиты» нескольких западных концернов, во всем зависимые от хозяев 

Spiegel writes in 2010:

“Back in the former East Germany, it was common to conceal the true scope of unemployment behind a large number of unproductive jobs. This tradition was seamlessly extended into the post-reunification era.”

One example of this are “one-euro jobs”, i.e. getting paid 1 euro per hour (while the official minimum wage in Germany is 8.5 euros!). “Under the scheme, the long-term unemployed could work a certain number of hours a week in, for example, old people’s homes, schools or parks. In return, they received compensation of €1 an hour or more on top of their regular welfare payments.”

As result of the program, nothing is produced. For example:

“At first, he received a one-euro job as a janitor in a center for the disabled. Even though his new employers praised him as the “man with the golden hands,” Sprenger was unable to keep the job, because one-euro jobs are usually only temporary.

Then the employment office placed him in a so-called “qualification” program, in which he and other unemployed workers were supposed to build sundials. They were only permitted to use sandpaper and files as tools, and the results of their work disappeared into the basement of the company running the program.”

Thus, East German workers are seen as “second-class” in their own country, in fact as second-class citizens, "Ossies" as opposed to the "Wessies". 

“The Guardian” writes“a "silent anger" still dominates easterners' feelings towards the west”

Unemployment

The unemployment is higher in the East than in the West.

“According to the German Federal Labor Office, unemployment in the former East German state sits at above 9%, while it hovers at 5.6% in the former West German territories, and the discrepancy would be worse were it not for government programs that bring jobs to the region.” (Fortune, 2014)

Most of the managers from East Germany retained their positions in management of industry. In a Russian language publication “An Overview of Reports About the Situation of the Elite of Germany” (Обзор докладов о положении элиты в Германии), we read:

"The share of the 'old' managers in the managing elite in the East of the country is around 70%. A large number of these have seen their status changed: 21.5% have increased their status, 18.6% - decreased, and 59.9% have not changed. Surveys of the acting managers from the former GDR show that a majority of them have adopted a positive attitude towards the changes that have taken place."

Double star

Rare Double Star System Death Throes Seen Before Exploding

As these people continue to function in a way similar to what they did in the former GDR – the socio-economic patterns of behavior are not easily changed – we can suppose that Germany is an example of “one country, two systems” entity, a kind of a “double star” in the political cosmos of our planet. Two societies functioning next to each other, touching and interacting with each other, just like the double stars in the picture. The final fate of the entity is hard to predict, but looking at the astonomical parallel , it is possible to say that the two socieities will combine into a single entity, which will explode from internal contradictions. 

Income

West German society has a higher income than East German.

The Guardian writes: “GDP in the east was still only 67% of that  in the west – roughly the same as 10 years ago”.

The GDP roughly corresponds to the income levels:

“The per capita economic output in the east is only at 71 percent of the western level, with a disproportionately high share of economic output attributable to the public sector. The economic output generated by the private economy is only at 66 percent of the western level”, writes Spiegel in 2010.

“Of Germany’s 100 largest industrial companies and 100 largest service providers, not one has its headquarters in eastern Germany.” This means lower income for the workers in East Germany, as the best paid jobs are around the headquarters. 

“The Guardian” writes:

“Of the 500 richest Germans, only 21 are in the east and, of those, 14 are in Berlin. Of the 20 most prosperous cities, only one – Jena – is in the east.

There are many reasons for the differences, including the fact that wages in the east continue to be lower – at €2,800 (£2,075) a month, people earn about two-thirds of the average wage in the west – and that property in the east is only worth half as much in the west.”

“The net wealth of the average westerner is about €153,200 per person. In eastern households it is not even half that. Indeed, east Germans with net assets of at least €110,000 are considered to belong to the richest 10% of adults; in the west, €240,000 is the minimum.

As cars are the most conspicuous indication of a German’s wealth, it is worth noting that a west German is twice as likely to drive a BMW, with an East German twice as likely to drive a Skoda.”

The average price for a BMW is $100 thousand. The average price for Skoda is $30 thousand. 

On consumption patterns, “The Guardian” writes:

“consumer habits between east and west Germans are generally similar, even though easterners spend 79% less on consumer goods”

How can they be similar, when East Germans have so much less money to spend? A BMW for West Germans and Skoda for East Germans. 

Society

Demographics
“The population of the east has shrunk from 16 million in 1989 to 12.5 million now, while the West German population has grown to 64.6 million from roughly 60 million.” (Fortune)

Population in the East is older than population in the West. “Many young people in rural eastern Germany say they are forced to move to the west or to larger eastern cities because of a lack of competitive wages and job opportunities. Consequently, many eastern German companies cannot find enough young trainees for entry-level positions and are now recruiting in Poland or the Czech Republic.”

File:Nudism Angela Merkel.jpg

East Germany is much more open to nudism than West Germany. This is a remnant of its left-wing culture.

“Freikoerperkultur” (“free body culture”), or FKK for short, was hugely popular in the otherwise highly restrictive German Democratic Republic (GDR), much more so than in West Germany.

And 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall this November 9, the habit is still going strong, and has even attracted a loyal band of followers from what was West Germany to the beaches of the east.” (Source: “The Telegraph”, 2009)

Child-care
There is much better care for the newborn children in East Germany than in the West. Public nurseries are cheap and affordable, in the East, while in the West they are private and expensive. 

The education in the “New Lander” has also remained mostly in the hands of the people grown under the GDR regime:

“Although the old structure has been replaced, observers agree that the values and preferences internalized by parents, students, and teachers who came to maturity in the GDR can be expected to survive for many years. Because it lasted decades longer than Nazism, the Marxist-Leninist influence on education in the new Länder will probably take far longer to overcome.”

Education in East Germany is better than in West Germany:

“Comparisons between the 16 German states show that – apart from the southern state of Bavaria – east German states are at the top of the scale. They perform best in maths, natural sciences, biology, chemistry and physics”, according to "The Guardian".

Right-wing-extremist-vote

In politics, the East tends to be much more radical, voting either for right-wing extremist party NPD, or for left-wing "Die Linke". 

A Russian-language magazine, based on German-language sources, writes:

"Today, 20 years after “the candles revolution”, the citizens of the Eastern lands still don’t feel political union with West Germany and don’t identify themselves with its democratic regime. Surveys of the last years show a constantly decreasing support by the local population of democracy and an ever increasing positive evaluation of different aspects of life in the GDR. Thus, if in 1990 88% of Eastern Germans spoke out in support of democracy, in 2002 there are only 50% of such."

«Many political scientists state that there is a separate political culture in East Germany, which is very different from political values of West Germany”

Our conclusion is that East Germany remains a radically different society from that of West Germany. It is a masked colony of West Germany, rather than an integral part of it. Capital does not feel comfortable in East Germany, in spite of lower wages and cheaper prices for real-estate. Monopolist capital mostly destroyed East-German productive facilities, to get rid of competition; however, it did not create a capitalist society. East Germany continues to function according to its own values and traditions. 

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