What Makes this Year’s Mauerfall Anniversary Celebrations Different?
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
The Berlin Wall has officially been down for longer than it stood for. Now, 30 years later, the first generation born into a reunified Germany has reached adulthood. They are the first of a group for whom divided Germany will be a part of history rather than a memory.
Today only a few remnants of the Wall, and of the old GDR, remain. Those afflicted by ‘Ostalgie’ yearn for the now non-existent way of life, customs and food of the old state, angered by the absorption of the GDR into German Federal Republic as well as the continuing high rates of unemployment and perceived arrogance of Westerners.
Arguably, reunification has not yet been completed. Severe disparity between the former East and West Germany remain, especially in areas such as economic wealth, social attitudes, even language. Politics in particular is divided along East-West lines, with right-wing extremist organisations such as Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) and Alternative for Germany (AfD) gaining considerable support in the former East. Against this political reality, speeches about German social and political unity sound hollow and hypocritical.
This year’s celebrations have also been subject to controversy in another way when it was revealed that the Interior Ministry appeared to have ‘forgotten’ about the upcoming landmark anniversary. Is this a sign that the Wall is finally fading from memory? Or it is simply another case of Wessis (a nickname for Westerners) ignoring the East? Moreover, has the scar of Germany’s 40-year long division really healed? Three decades on, the answer to this question is still unclear.