Proposal to Merge Berlin with Brandenburg Loses: Cold War Hatred Reflected in Vote

Article excerpt

BERLIN - The ghosts of the Cold War returned to haunt Germany yesterday when a plan to merge the city-state of Berlin with the surrounding rural state of Brandenburg was rejected in a referendum that showed clear dividing lines between the former East and West Germanys.

Fed up with the upheaval that followed Germany's unification in 1990, voters in the formerly communist eastern state of Brandenburg that encircles Berlin overwhelmingly opposed the plan to reunite the two states while voters in west Berlin voted solidly in favor.

The vote in Berlin itself reflected the peculiar divisions that linger on in the city more than six years after the Berlin Wall collapsed. While western Berlin voted yes, formerly communist eastern Berlin voted no.

Because both states had to vote yes on the referendum, the no vote in Brandenburg sent the plan for a powerful new state in the historic heartland of Prussia crashing down in ruins.

The result of the election shows that the old reservations toward Berlin that existed in East Germany are still very much alive, said Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen, the conservative leader of the city.

"The people had a strong antipathy against the old East German capital of East Berlin. And they have apparently already faced too much change in the last five years," he said.

Championed by most political and business leaders in both states, the united Berlin-Brandenburg would have become the country's fifth-largest state with a population of about 6 million. …