- Title: GERMANY: FEATURE: 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF GERMAN REUNIFICATION.
- Date: 2nd October 2000
- Summary: CU: PICTURE
- Reuters ID: LVA319VYV1VIWSWGJ6LJ2UOEMM0Y
- Location: BERLIN, POTSDAM, HALLE, JENA , TETEROW, LAUSCHA, SCHWERIN, HARTMANNSDORF AND LEIPZIG, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Duration: 00:00:21
- Topics: General,People
- Story Text: "Now that which belongs together is growing together."
- Former German Chancellor Willi Brandt coined the phrase
shortly after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
Almost ten years after German reunification, bonds between
former East and West have been established, but much work
remains to be done.
Heike and Sasha Salzmann met shortly after the Berlin
wall fell, when they both worked in a boutique on Western
Berlin's exclusive Kurfuerstendamm Street. Heike, from the
former East, and Sascha, from the what was the West, fell in
Today they run Sascha's parents flower shop in a
middle-class (West) Berlin neighbourhood. Their marriage is a
product of German unification, they often reflect on the
progress of unity, on a personal level and in society as a
Heike says she does not search for differences, but she
sometimes sees them in discussions and arguments: "Yes, I do
notice the difference. I mean I don't stand there and pick out
what is east and what is west... But sometimes when we are
done discussing and arguing I sit and think that could only
have been someone from the west or that could only have
happened in the west. For example if they think things don't
matter they don't care, or won't discuss things to a proper
Her husband Sascha says there is a sense in which the
couple cannot share a history: "There is no east-west
relationship problem, generally. In our generation the only
thing we can't really share is our experiences of our youth.
If I talk to someone who spent his teen years when I did, we
can talk about how we spent our youth, that we went there and
there and there... Everyone knows where those places are,
everyone went there, and that is the only thing I can't share
with her, but you can't base a relationship on that."
Manfred Goertemaker, a professor of politics and history
at Potsdam University, says the issue is a lot broader: "One
thing that has been learned is that mentalities and milieus
take much longer to change than politics and the economy or
Eastern Germany remains in the grip of high unemployment
and has a weak infrastructure, news of increasing right-wing
radicalism dominates. However, there are some bright spots in
the otherwise bleak economy.
Thousands of new start-up companies and high technology
firms such as precision glassmaker Jenoptik and biotech firm
Plasmaselect are bringing the high-tech wave to the East.
Jobs in the so-called new economy are being created and
some observers even say that due to the high levels of
investment in eastern Germany, in a few years time the East
will be better off than the West.
During his summer tour through eastern Germany, Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder had the opportunity to see what had been
done with the huge subsidies being direct there.
He stressed that solidarity between east and west must
remain at a high level: "I have made it clear that it is
necessary to have solidarity, also financial solidarity, with
eastern Germany for a long long time to come. On the other
hand I was touched by the heartfelt reception which I had, and
I am impressed with what has happened in the last ten years.
The glass is not half empty, it is half full, and there is
still lots to do as we know."
Yet many Germans from the former East Germany still do not
identify with a new system they were expected to accept
Professor Goertemaker of Potsdam University says: "Many
East Germans, if you ask them, will say that they do not yet
identify with the political system, and that has to change. Of
course they are welcome but they can't identify with it
because they have the feeling that they were overrun by the
old government of the Federal Republic and therefore had the
feeling they were taken over, and that has to be reduced."
How long will it take Germany to grow together? No one can
say for sure, but Heike Salzmann hopes for her daughters that
the East-West question will not be an important one: "I think
the children who were born after unification will feel that it
is no longer be important where you came from. It's the people
in our age group, that will remain a grave problem."
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