The Political Economy of German Unification

By Thomas Lange; J. R. Shackleton | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
GERMANY'S CHANGING POLITICAL
LANDSCAPE

Martin Geiling


Introduction

Six years have passed since the national euphoria over unification sent millions of Germans into a kind of collective ecstasy. The pictures from Berlin that shook the whole world at that time -- the celebrations against the backdrop of the Reichstag and the expectant faces of the representatives of the former Bundesrepublik, which was in a sense to disappear as surely as the doomed Deutsche Democratische Republik (DDR), the emotion and joy people felt about this 'miracle' nobody had actually believed possible -- all this has already become ancient history. In the years since so- called unification, a change of atmosphere and perception has taken place. Widespread disillusionment has replaced euphoria since the two states of the Cold War era became one.

What are the reasons for, and the forces behind, this rapid and fundamental change of mood? In this chapter we examine several examples which suggest that an answer to the question can be found in the discrepancy between the unity defined by the state on the one hand and the interests of the West German economy on the other. This has led to enormous dislocation and social disruption, especially in the Beitrittsgebiet1 of the New Bundesländer.

The author would like to thank Holger Schwartz for his research assistance.

____________________
1
Literally the 'joining area'.

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