Germany Divided

1410 WORDS

Germany Divided
The shocking fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe in the late
eighties was remarkable for both its rapidity and its scope. None more than for

East and West Germany. "The unification of Germany has been one of the most
significant and moving events of the 20th century. Yet the euphoria of those
heady days in autumn 1989, when the world watched in rapt attention as the

Berlin Wall came tumbling down, has since fizzled. The process has proven to be
far more painful than (then) Chancellor Helmut Kohl had promised Germans in 1990
on the eve of the first all-German elections since the Nazi’s rise to
power."(Ireland, 541) This resulted from the underestimation that was placed
on integrating the democratic system of government and free-market economy of

West Germany with the communist foundation of East Germany. The shift from
communism took a whole new context in Germany. The peoples involved were not
looking to affect a narrow set of policy reforms; indeed, what was at stake was
a hyper-radical shift from the long-held communist ideology to a western
blueprint for governmental and economic policy development. According to
theories of modernization, higher levels of socioeconomic achievement
facilitates an increase in open competition and, ultimately, assists in the
establishment of democracy. The problem inherent in this type of monumental
change is that, according to Helga A. Welsh, " the collapse of authoritarian
rule has released national, ethnic, religious, and cultural conflicts which
cannot be solved by purely economic policies"(27). Generally it has been
theorized that the most effective fashion in which to remedy these many
difficulties is by drafting a constitution. But, what seems to be clear in

Germany is the unsatisfactory ability of a constitution to resolve the problems
of nationalism and ethnic differences. Germany’s current situation gives
validity to the statement that " what works in theory doesn’t necessarily
work in practice." This is because the economic advancements that were
anticipated to bring prosperity to East Germany didn’t occur as planned. It
was assumed that the integration of the economies would be a difficult but
attainable goal because West Germany was one of the world’s most productive
and prosperous economies. The last ten years have shown that this was not the
case. Due to East Germany’s longtime adherence to communist policies, it faced
great complexity in making the transition to a pluralist system as well as a
market economy. As Preuss posits these problems were threefold: The genuine
economic devastations wrought by the communist regimes, the transformation of
the social and economic classes of the command economy and , finally the
creation of a constitutional structure for political entities that lack the
undisputed integrity of a nation state (48). The failure of the economic
integration is at the root of the ills that have plagued the two countries since
unification. In regards to the economic aspects of unification, some major
problems exist in the transition to a free-market economy. First, and probably
the most significant factor is the epidemic of unemployment that has infected

East Germany. Prior to unification slightly over half of East Germany’s 16
million people were employed and this figure has been steadily declining since

1989. Currently, "the east’s unemployment rate of more than 17% is double
that of the west’s (Aaland, r12). In a market economy these grim statistics
breed frustration and discontent among the populace. Another dilemma presenting
itself to Germany is the enormous expense of upgrading the dilapidated
infrastructure in the east. The east is decades behind technologically and
hundreds of millions of dollars have been required to improve the roads,
railroads, telecommunications, public services, postal service, and most
importantly educational system. Along with this is the deplorable environmental
conditions that were left by the old communist regime. These necessary
conditions must be renovated before funding can stimulate the economy and is an
important factor in the east’s current economic nightmare. One other important
issue that has contributed to the east’s depression is the economic policy of
the privatizing of state property. This is a sensitive subject in any
country’s transition from a command economy. For one, a system of procedures
must be adopted simply to transfer such large amounts of property to private
citizens. Also, there must be mechanisms put in place to both protect new owners
form claims of previous owners and to satisfy former owner without alienating
possible future investors. The problem arises in that private property laws do
not always coincide with the fair concept of restitution. As Petra Bauer-Kaase
states, "East Germans still have difficulties in adjusting to a political

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