Reunification at a Glance

At the fall of the GDR, companies in the east that were once owned by the state, laid off employees and were offered for sale. This opened the door not for east Germans to buy companies, but rather for westerners to do so. Cities such as Chemnitz still have not recovered since unification and privatization, whereas Zwickau is in a much better place.

The population of Zwickau since reunification has dropped by nearly 30,000 people (Fleschurz, et al. 20), and following population figures it is estimated it could drop to 75,000 people by 2030. Even in a town such as Zwickau, reunification hurt immensely. Barbara pointed out an interesting fact about Zwickau; there are many abandoned buildings that no one knows who owns them. So they have been left vacant for many years due to privatization, think about that for a moment.

Unemployment in eastern Germany since reunification has been high, and even a cause to the mass migration. Eastern Germany is somewhat of an anomaly compared to other transitional countries (Hungry, Czech Republic, and Poland) as unemployment in east Germany sits between 15 and 18 percent (Hall and Ludwig 605). Hall and Ludwig state that the high rates are a direct result of reunification (605). If you were living in a communist country, then all the sudden you could move west to get a better paying job doing the same thing, what would you do?

According to Hall and Ludwig, out of the top 100 German industrial firms based on annual revenue, only one has its headquarters in eastern Germany (611). Part of that can be due to eastern companies being bought by westerners not wanting to move headquarters. This has lead to a level of dislike to the German political system in place from eastern Germans. Rightfully so if you ask me, for nearly 40 years each person in theory had a job, income, and housing, only to one day be laid off and searching for a job. Easterners were moved from stable, readily available jobs, into an open market which they had weak preparation for gaining employment (Legge Jr. and Rainey).

It is interesting to note that the fall of the Soviet Union is seen as a positive, but what is not nearly spoke of is the economic issues that have plagued eastern Germany since then. I knew nothing of this prior to beginning research for this project. People in eastern Germany still are much opposed to Germany’s government, and only 33% of eastern Germans feel confident in their social market economy (Niemietz 72).

Where is your revolution? Taken by Matt Hamparian.