The initial exuberance generated by the collapse of the Berlin Wall met with a sceptical, even negative response from most intellectuals in East and West and has since been superseded by the image of the 'Mauer im Kopf' (wall in the head), signalling a widespread disillusionment or even hostility towards the actual unification process, amongst people on both sides. In addition, many critical foreign commentators voice fears of the advent of a Fourth Reich 1 or cynically view unification as a process of colonization, although any detailed discussion of the revolutionary process should dispose of the widespread myth that the revolution was initiated by West German capitalism. Nevertheless, the painful procedure of growing together has gone ahead; differences between 'Ossis' and 'Wessis', though still noticeable in political culture and social attitude, have lessened.
The events of the autumn of 1989 are commonly referred to as the 'peaceful revolution', a description which renders the term 'revolution' somewhat redundant. If judged against other such upheavals, either historical or in contemporary Eastern Europe, certain peculiarities come to light. This revolution led only partially to the anticipated political and social emancipation, as the newly emerging elite soon surrendered its autonomy and sought Beitritt (accession) to its dominant Western neighbour. The revolutionary potential was inexorably subsumed within the Federal Republic's established order. Underlining this feature was the fact that a large number of the 'revolutionaries' had already embraced West Germany and toppled the system, not by climbing barricades, but by fleeing the country, thus sapping the regime of its workforce: by 9 November, when the Wall came down, more than a quarter of a million people, 1.5 per cent of the whole population, had already fled to West Germany. 2 A further peculiarity concerns the activists in this 'revolution'. Although many intellectuals, artists and church leaders voiced dissent
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Publication information: Book title: Education and Society in Germany. Contributors: H. J. Hahn - Author. Publisher: Berg Publishers. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 159.
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