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The Berlin Wall fell 25

years ago, but Germany is


still divided
A woman and a man walk along the painted East ide Gallery, a former part of the
Berlin Wall, and are re!e"ted in a rain puddle in Berlin, Germany, #$ %uly 2#&'( The
weather fore"ast predi"ts more rain for the following days( E)A*)A+, -./0E/
By 1i"k /oa"k 2"tober 3&
It can be hard for visitors to Berlin to imagine where the
Berlin Wall once separated Germany's communist East from the U.S.friendly
West. !oday" commuters run to catch a metro where trains stood for nearly #$
years. %urried sausages are sold and illegal &but popular' parties are celebrated in
empty warehouses (ust feet from where East Germans were shot by their own
countrymen as they tried to cross the border to the west.
)e*t wee+" Germany will celebrate the ,-th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin
Wall and at first glance" it seems as if the country is more united than some
nations that were never split.
But numbers and images illustrating differences in lifestyles and problems between
East and West Germans tell a different story. While .- percent of Germans who live
in the east said they considered their country's reunification a success in a
recent survey only half of western Germans agreed. /nd that's not the only
distinction indicating that the separation of the past prevails today.
Before we go indepth with the Washington 0ost visuali1ations and maps shown
above" some of them inspired by German news site 2EI! 3)4I)E" let's ta+e a loo+
at the bigger picture5
Berlin, photographed from a Space Station
2ver 2# years sin"e the Berlin Wall was dismantled the e4e"ts of separating the "ity
"an still be seen from spa"e( The yellow lights "orrespond to East Berlin and the
greener tones show West Berlin( 56opyright7 EA*/AA8
!he photo above was ta+en by astronaut /ndr6 7uipers from the International
Space Station in ,$8,. It shows one division of Berlin5 While the yellow lights are
in east Berlin" the green parts mar+ the western part.
9aniela /ugenstein" a spo+eswoman for Berlin's department of urban
development" e*plained that each side historically used different streetlights. !he
lights themselves reflect another difference5 !he streetlamps used in
West Germany were much more environmentally friendly" reflecting the emergence
of the western German environmental civil movement in the 8:.$s and 8:;$s. /t
that time East Germany was still heavily polluting" and heavily reliant on coal.
!oday" eastern Germany is the heart of the country's renewable energy
transformation. But viewed from space" the historic differences still define Berlin's
nightly appearance.
9ata reveal further cleavages between east and west.
5our"e of the following $ maps7 German statisti"al o9"e( :isuali;ation7 Gene Thorp*
The Washington )ost8
/fter the fall of the Berlin Wall" formerly communist eastern German companies
and factories suddenly had to compete with their much more efficient western
counterparts. %apitalism came too fast. <any eastern German companies went
ban+rupt and some regions never recovered from the shoc+. Until today" income
levels are much lower in the east than in the west.
Germany's unemployment rate made headlines when it hit a twodecade low this
summer. But that rate is not evenly spread5 former West German states still have
far better employment levels than their eastern neighbors. !hat's in part because
more young people have moved from rural eastern areas to the west" which has
also decreased the amount of (obsee+ing eastern Germans.
!his has led to a parado*ical situation5 <any young people in rural eastern
Germany say they are forced to move to the west or to larger eastern cities because
of a lac+ of competitive wages and (ob opportunities. %onse=uently" many eastern
German companies cannot find enough young trainees for entrylevel positions and
are now recruiting in 0oland or the %1ech >epublic.
9emographic differences are not only the result of (oblessness and income gaps.
<ost foreigners who live in Germany have chosen to settle in the western parts" and
their arrival has decreased average ages. Several factors e*plain the significantly
smaller foreign population in the east. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall" western
Germany invited many !ur+s to live in the country as guest wor+ers. <any of them
never left.
?urthermore" the climate is less friendly to foreigners in the east" according to
a study by 4eip1ig University researchers who interviewed 8@"$$$ Germans over 8$
years. !hese findings coincide with a larger presence of rightwing neo)a1i
sympathi1ers. !he rightwing )ational 9emocratic 0arty" whose members have
often been accused of glorifying /dolf Aitler" en(oys particular support in the east"
though they've been relatively unsuccessful at the polls.
Why did rightwing politicians prosper in the oncecommunist east. !he
e*planation is comple*" but scientists often attribute it to a mi*ture of antileftist
worldviews after the wall fell and the economic downturn in the east. <any people
were disillusioned by Western capitalism" but few wanted a return to communism.
>ightwing politicians were =uic+ to fill the void. !he great ma(ority of eastern
Germans" of course" are welcoming.
!he comparisons above might ma+e eastern Germany seem li+e a blea+ place to live
but in some ways" it's ahead of the west. !a+e trash production. WhyB Aere is one
possible e*planation5 Aaving dealt with constant food shortages until 8:;:" eastern
Germans learned to economi1e and buy only those items they deemed necessary.
!his attitude seems to prevail today. Aowever" eastwest differences in regard to
trash production would be much less pronounced if we only loo+ed at domestic
waste" and did not include other sources of trash such as gardens.
%ommunist East Germany also emphasi1ed child care. While eastern German
mothers were usually employed" western German women often stayed home to
raise their children. So the East German government invested heavily in childcare
facilities" and that legacy remains today.
!his map points to another legacy of eastern Germany's communist past. In then
East Germany" agricultural fields were much larger" because they were not owned
by individuals" but by a pool of farmers. /fter reunification" the fields' si1es rarely
changed.
5our"e7 :ersorgungsatlas(de* <irst used by -E.T 2/,./E* :isuali;ation7 Gene Thorp, The
Washington )ost8
In the east" it was also much more common" and politically supported" to get a flu
shot. Even today" eastern Germans are more committed to this practice" as the
German news website 2EI! 3)4I)E recently noted in a comparison between
eastern and western habits and beliefs that is definitely worth a read. &/ccording to
the site" eastern Germans also own significantly fewer legal small arms than citi1ens
living in west Germany.'
5our"e7 0raftfahrt=Bundesamt* <irst used by -E.T 2/,./E* :isuali;ation7 Gene Thorp,
The Washington )ost8
?inally" if you travel Europe and you see two German groups at a campground" you
might easily be able to distinguish them. Eastern Germans usually sleep in tents"
while western Germans prefer to travel with trailers. We did not find a scientific
e*planation" but one might posit that it's rooted in western Germans' longer
e*perience traveling the world. ?urthermore" many young eastern Germans
couldn't even afford a car under communism. !rying to buy a trailer would have
been more e*pensive and nearly impossible for most eastern Germans. While those
in the west were able to e*plore beyond their borders" eastern Germans remained
practically imprisoned by their government for nearly #$ years until ,- years ago.
9espite the prevailing differences" many consider the German reunification a
successful role model. )e*t wee+" we will investigate why" and ta+e a loo+ at
Germany's younger generation.
>E4/!E95 !he fall of the Berlin Wall
will soon "elebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall(
Nov. 11, 1989An East German border guard looks to the West through an opening in the
Berlin Wall( The ne>t day, /ov( &2, East Germans dismantled the wall at )otsdamer )lat;,
allowing East and West Germans to travel freely between the two Berlins( 1i"hard A(
,ipski*The Washington )ost
Ciew 0hoto Gallery DGermany will soon celebrate the ,-th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin demonstrates how it will illuminate the former "ourse of the Berlin Wall from /ov(
?=@ to mark 25 years sin"e it was toppled( 5bauderAlm* 0ulturproBekte Berlin GmbC
*WC.TEvoid 2#&'8
0osted by !havam a