Easterners don't feel part of united Germany: study

Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:23am EST
 
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By Josie Cox

BERLIN (Reuters) - Nearly a generation after German re-unification almost two thirds of former East Germans still do not think of themselves as citizens of the Federal Republic, according to a study.

The survey of about 3,000 people by the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute for Social Sciences found that 62 percent agreed with the statement "I don't feel like a citizen of the Federal Republic but I don't want East Germany back either."

Only one in five said they could "identify with the Federal Republic," and more than half felt they had not benefited from reforms since reunification, the report said.

Gunnar Winkler, a professor at the institute, said that despite these figures he did not think the East Germans were staging a general protest against a united country.

"It's more about the feeling of being treated equally," Winkler said on Thursday.

Economic differences have helped to aggravate east-west tensions. The unemployment rate in the east is almost twice that of the west, and average eastern wages are lower.

The mood is often summed up by the phenomenon of "Ostalgie" -- or a sense of nostalgia for East Germany -- and extends to the eastern population's political preferences.

The new Left party, which incorporated the successors to the East German communist party, has led opinion polls for much of this year in eastern states. Nationally, it polls third.

This year, German President Horst Koehler warned that nostalgia for East Germany risked deepening political divides and said some easterners had refused to face up to how fragile things were when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

 
<p>East German workers load a section of the Berlin Wall onto a truck early December 22, 1989. Reuters/Juergen Schwarz</p>