and Social Change
in an East German County
The year 1989 witnessed a major realignment in Eastern Europe. Beginning with the events in Poland and Czechoslovakia, all Eastern European countries set out to transform their societies from state socialism to parliamentary democracy, and their economies from central planning to market principles. In the process, the military boundaries of the post-World War Two period were redrawn, so that the term East once again has became congruent with its geographic meaning. 1 It brought the Cold War to an end and gave Europe a new form of stability. However, the disappearance of the cold war also brought to light regional and ethnic tensions previously hidden by the all-encompassing East-West conflict. 2 The civil wars in the territories of the former Yugoslavia and USSR are illustrations for this new instability.
East Germany is a special case of political and economic change in Eastern Europe, for no other East European country had a Western counterpart with which it had the option to unify. As such East Germany offers a unique opportunity to examine the consequences of the transformation from state socialism to liberal democracy. It is the purpose of this chapter to discuss the consequences of this transformation for the agricultural sector in one Eastern German county. To that end, this chapter (1) provides a brief summary of the process of German unification; (2) describes the locale of the research; (3) examines the organizational change resulting from the restructuring of the agricultural collectives; (4) discusses the implications of these changes for agricultural production and employment; (5) summarizes the change in employment and living standard in the community since unification; and (6)