Today marks 25 years of German unity, and Germans are rightly proud to look back on the peaceful reunification (Wiedervereinigung) of East and West Germany. Germany is economically and politically the strongest power in Europe, yet internally there is still a divide between east and west. Productivity in the east is only 1/3 that of the western German states - after transfer payments of over one trillion euros since 1990. Writing in the FAZ, Holger Steltzner sees the subsidies as a historical blunder since organic growth in the east was inhibited and the people who stayed behind remain dependent on the welfare. Many today still reject free market capitalism and disparage democratic institutions:
Die Transfers wird es noch lange geben, der Westen wächst stärker als der Osten, und die Wirtschaftsleistung je Einwohner auf dem Gebiet der ehemaligen DDR erreicht nur zwei Drittel des Westniveaus. Weil Politiker wirtschaftlich nicht hielten, was sie versprachen, herrscht im Osten eine antikapitalistische Grundhaltung. Obwohl die Marktwirtschaft ihre Überlegenheit bewies, wurde die Mangelerfahrung des Sozialismus vergessen, sagt Schroeder. Heute setzen acht von zehn Ostdeutschen die Marktwirtschaft mit Ausbeutung gleich. Und jeder Zweite verbindet die Planwirtschaft mit Sicherheit. Wie konnte das passieren?
("We will have transfer payments for a long time to come. The west grows stronger than the east, and the economic productivity per resident in the territory of the former GDR achieves only one third of the level in the west. Because the politicians did not live up to their promises there is a profound anti-capitalist attitude in the east. Even though the free market economy has proven its superiority the deficits of socialism have been forgotten... Today 8 out of 10 east Germans equate free market capitalism with exploitation. And half associate the planned economy with security. How could that happen?")
Let us not forget that many in the former West Germany (BRD) were opposed to reunification. Especially many on the left - most notably Oskar ('the Clown") Lafontaine, who was then the leader of the SPD - were vocal critics of Helmut Kohl's reunification strategy. Today Oskar is a leader of the Left Party ( Die Linke), which still today mourns the demise of the Arbeiter- und Bauernstaat.
The Web site Lenin-is still-around (www.leninisstillaround.com ) seeks out and photographs the remaining statues of Lenin in eastern Germany, as well as reliefs, and stained glass windows. I personally believe these should be maintained - as historical artifacts, but also as a warning to future generations. Unfortunately, in the eastern states, images of Vladimir Iliych Lenin remain an inspiration for many.