November 9, 1989 marked an end and a beginning: the opening of the Berlin Wall, the conclusion of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany. The challenge of reintegrating the two halves of the country has proved enormous, and there has been no shortage of criticism when things have gone wrong. Nonetheless, Germany’s political and economic reunification has largely been a success – in the past 15 years alone, the GDP of the former east has risen by more than 44 percent to EUR 356 billion.
Christian Hirte, the government’s commissioner for the ‘new federal states,’ says that eastern Germans should be proud. “Today the eastern German states have an economic power comparable to many regions in France or Britain,” Hirte explains. “If we remember where we started thirty years ago, the development has been impressive.”
The blossoming landscapes promised by Chancellor Helmut Kohl back in 1989-90 may have taken time to put down roots and grow, but grow they have. Each of the six federal eastern states – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Thuringia, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and, of course, Berlin – have developed in different ways.