[Other] John Torpey – Divided Germany, 30 Years After The Fall Of The Wall

We will soon celebrate the 30th anniversary of the epoch-making opening of the Berlin Wall. The “fall” of the Wall was followed, in unexpectedly speedy fashion, by the unification of the two parts of Germany that had been divided during the Cold War. With the approach of unification, many assumed, as former Chancellor Willy Brandt put it, that “that which belongs together is growing together,” and that it would take roughly a generation for the two sides to complete the process.  How has that worked out?

Well, not, at least in considerable respects. It is important to recall how different a society “really existing socialism” was. The ethos was egalitarian, “workerist,” and unhurried. Social hierarchies were flattened compared to what existed in the West. Even the Communist political elite, distant though it was from the mass of the population, lived far from luxuriously. Women, whose labor power was needed in the factories because little immigration was allowed, found themselves in a much more equal position relative to men. Forty years of separation produced different outlooks and attitudes. In short, the effort to cultivate a new “socialist person”—whether one likes it or not—was not entirely unsuccessful.

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Source: [Other] John Torpey – Divided Germany, 30 Years After The Fall Of The Wall