11.08.09, 07:27 PM #1
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This is Hillarious for So Many Reasons
The Guardian in the UK is a good news paper, but sometimes they try too hard.
This is an editorial by some German woman about how the Fall of the Berlin Wall was bad for East Germans.
Of course, unification brought with it the freedom to travel the world and, for some, more material wealth, but it also brought social breakdown, widespread unemployment, blacklisting, a crass materialism and an "elbow society" as well as a demonisation of the country I lived in and helped shape. Despite the advantages, for many it was more a disaster than a celebratory event.
Once the border was open the government decided to set up a trusteeship to ensure that "publicly owned enterprises" (the majority of businesses) would be transferred to the citizens who'd created the wealth. However, a few months before unification, the then newly elected conservative government handed over the trusteeship to west German appointees, many representing big business interests. The idea of "publicly owned" assets being transferred to citizens was quietly dropped. Instead all assets were privatised at breakneck speed. More then 85% were bought by west Germans and many were closed soon after. In the countryside 1.7 million hectares of agricultural and forest land were sold off and 80% of agricultural workers lost their job.
Large numbers of ordinary workers lost their jobs, but so too did thousands of research workers and academics. As a result of the purging of academia, research and scientific establishments in a process of political vetting, more than a million individuals with degrees lost their jobs. This constituted about 50% of that group, creating in east Germany the highest percentage of professional unemployment in the world; all university chancellors and directors of state enterprises as well as 75,000 teachers lost their jobs and many were blacklisted. This process was in stark contrast to what happened in west Germany after the war, when few ex-Nazis were treated in this manner.
Also, "Few ex-Nazis were treated like this"...really? Well yes and no, I mean the ones who weren't shot or hung or put into prison actually did well. However that's relative because in 1945, Germany was nothing more than glorified rubble. I wonder how those ex-nazis were treated on the East Side of that wall?
Since the demise of the GDR, many have come to recognise and regret that the genuine "social achievements" they enjoyed were dismantled: social and gender equality, full employment and lack of existential fears, as well as subsidised rents, public transport, culture and sports facilities. Unfortunately, the collapse of the GDR and "state socialism" came shortly before the collapse of the "free market" system in the west.
This is all you need to know about East Germany:
Hundreds of people were shot trying to escape East Germany. A few people who tried to sneak into East Germany were also shot. That hardly sounds like paradise.
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