Two decades after the Berlin Wall came down, the economic reunification of the two Germanys has been mixed.
There are success stories, such as in the town of Nauen, 20 kilometres west of Berlin, but economic parity remains elusive. Nauen benefited from the investment, both government and private, that poured into the five states that made up the former East Germany Nauen’s Mayor, Detlef Fleischmann said: “Briefly, after the fall of communism, there was a significant rise in unemployment in Nauen, the main reason being the collapse of the markets for products made locally. But Nauen and the surrounding Havel region had the luck to start their transformation early and the results also came early.” The statistics tell a mixed story. In 1991 the East jobless total was 10.2 percent, in the West it was 6.2 percent. By last year there were twice as many people out of work in East as in the West – 14.7 percent against 7.2 percent. In the early nineties only half the homes in the East had a phone; now they have caught up with the West. It is a similar story for household appliances like microwave ovens and dishwashers. But there are still major differences. While economic performance in the East this year reached 70 percent of that of the West, sizeable areas across the Eastern part of the country are still notorious for high unemployment, and wages there remain lower. Economists say that as state support is gradually withdrawn, it is unclear how self sustainable East Germany’s economy will be.