THE HOUSE AT THE BRIDGE -- Page 14



arrived, the Kindergarten had occupied the house for more than four decades.

In the two years I spent researching this book, I watched tensions between western Germans ("Wessies") and eastern Germans ("Ossies") grow. The jubilation following the November 1989 fall of the Wall had long since disappeared and each side now regarded the other with undisguised contempt.

By the time I was leaving Berlin in the fall of 1992, friction between east and west was higher than ever, Eastern Germans were increasingly bitter about the system that had been thrust on them by the west. They resented the high prices for consumer goods and food that unification had brought. They resented the soaring unemployment in eastern Germany. They resented the disappearance of social services, subsidized child care and crime-free streets. Eastern Germans especially resented those aspects of the unification process that resembled a corporate takeover more than a political melding. 'West German laws subsumed East German laws, East German university faculties were dismantled as Marxist professors were fired and replaced by West German scholars. East Germany's state-run factories and businesses were put on the block in one gargantuan closeout sale.

Before the Wall fell, West Germans had felt more affinity with France and Holland than with East Germany. Few West Germans outside of Berlin ever visited East Germany. Why bother? There was nothing to see. The roads were bad. The country stank of brown coal. And the food was a bland, greasy version of standard German fare from decades past that West Germans had spent the postwar years diversifying, their palates growing accustomed to more exotic cuisine.

After reunification, westerners were furious to see in every pay check a deduction for a reunification tax. By the end of 1992, the gap between eastern and western salaries was closing, placing a further strain on the German economy. Germany was headed into economic recession as westerners laid the blame for dragging them down on their backward cousins. Billions were being spent to modernize eastern Germany and westerners were sick of footing the bill. A majority of those in the west accused easterners of wanting to live like them hut of wanting to work at the same lazy pace they had enjoyed before 1989.

Nothing revealed the change in relations between Wessies and Next Page



Home

What's New?

Feedback

Site Index

The Gallery

Maps

Links

About this Site

This page was last built on Thu, Jan 7, 1999 at 9:25:14 AM with Frontier. Please send comments to: greg@TheHouseAtTheBridge.com