Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts After Unification: Conversations with East Germans

After Unification: Conversations with East Germans

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 signaled the demise of the East German dictatorship, which had never fulfilled its promises of providing economic prosperity to rival that of West Germany. The subsequent German unification purportedly gave the East a chance to share in the prosperity of the West, and the reconstruction of East German cities since then has been rapid. Although it may seem obvious that the daily lives of East Germans have improved, I recently took advantage of an extended visit to Jena, a prosperous town of about 100,000 lying in the southwest part of the former East Germany, to see whether they felt this to be the case. I carried out a series of interviews with residents of the town and its surrounds to explore this issue, which has some important implications for political stability and the future political dynamics of the nation.

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