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East Germany's economic renaissance

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East Germany's economic renaissance


Since 1922 MZ has been producing motor bikes in eastern Germany close to the German-Czech border town of Zschopau.

The brand has undergone a number of changes and survived the collapse of East Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall. The company has been given a new lease of life thanks to two former motor-bike racers, Martin Wimmer and Ralf Waldmann. The pair plan a new 125cc model with hopes of a 500cc machine in the future. Martin Wimmer said: “MZ and its history make it possible for these little motor-bikes to be part of the global market again. The global market is 20 million units. German products would be in demand if they existed. That is something people need to understand.” Hartmut Quendt produces a traditional type of German biscuit. He began his business under the communists, even building his own machinery to make the biscuits. When the DDR crumbled, he feared for his livelihood. “I put a lot into it – working day and night until the machine was running. And then I was told it would land on the scrap heap! My life’s work! It had just gone into production, and then someone said, it’s just Eastern German rubbish – no good” He refused to quit, now he sells his products all over the world and employs 180 people. Investment in East Germany has its advantages – cash incentives, reduced interest loans, and investment grants of up to 50 percent are on offer as part of the federal government’s investment allowance that runs until 2013. Thomas Lauenroth’s fish factory relocated from Hamburg to the east. He is happy: “Here, it works perfectly. Here we find workers, who are ready to work in such a kind of activity and also touch the fish, as we still have to do that” Q-cells is another east German success story. Last year it overtook Sharp last year as the number one producer of solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. It is another ray of light from the east as it tries to shed its image of abandoned coal mines, rusting factories and unemployment.

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