New states of Germany

New states of Germany

The new federal states of Germany (German: die neuen Bundesländer) are the five re-established states in the former German Democratic Republic that acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany with its 10 states upon German reunification on 3 October 1990.

The new states, which had been abolished by the East German government in 1952 and were re-established in 1990, are Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.

The state of Berlin, the result of a merger between East and West Berlin, is usually not considered one of the new states, although many of its residents are former East Germans.

Since the reunification on October 3, 1990, Germany consists of 16 states with the new states completely equal to the old states. Yet the process of the "inner reunification" between the former Eastern and Western Germany is still ongoing.



The Ampelmännchen, symbol of the old East German culture

Persisting differences in culture and mentality among the old East Germany and old West Germany are often referred to as the "wall in the head" ("Mauer im Kopf").[1] "Ossis" (easterners) are stereotyped as racist, poor and largely influenced by Russian culture.[2] "Wessis" (westerners) are usually considered snobbish, dishonest and selfish. The terms can be considered disparaging.[weasel words]

Twenty years after the fall of the wall, only 22% of former East Germans (40% of under-25s) consider themselves "real citizens of the Federal Republic".[3] 62% feel in a kind of limbo, no longer citizens of East Germany but not fully integrated into the unified Germany. Around 11% would like to have East Germany back.[3] A 2004 poll found that 25% of West Germans and 12% of East Germans wished reunification had not happened.[1]

Some East German brands have been revived, appealing to former East Germans who are nostalgic for the goods they grew up with.[4] Brands revived in this manner include Rotkäppchen, which holds about 40% of the German sparkling wine market, and Zeha, the sport shoe maker that supplied most of East Germany's sports teams and also the Soviet national football team.[4]

Pornography and prostitution, considered by the government a sign of bourgeois decadence, were illegal in the GDR, and it is commonly believed that Germans who grew up during the communist years are more sexually inhibited than their western counterparts.[5] Nonetheless, better access to higher education and jobs along with free abortion, contraception and generous family policies made East German women generally more emancipated with respect to their sex life.[5]

More children are born out of wedlock in eastern Germany (57%) than in western Germany (25%); the difference is even more marked when compared to the Roman Catholic strongholds of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, where the rate is 15%.[6]


DDR-era apartment blocks in Ilmenau, Thüringen

The economic reconstruction of eastern Germany (German: Aufbau Ost) is proving to be more long-term than originally foreseen.[7] The standard of living and annual income remains significantly lower in the new federal states.[8]

Reunification cost the federal government €2 Trillion.[9] At reunification, almost all East German industry was outdated.[7] The government had to privatise 8,500 state-owned East German enterprises.[9] Since 1990, between €100 billion and €140 billion a year have been transferred to the new states.[9] More than $60 billion were spent supporting businesses and building infrastructure in the years 2006-2008.[10]

A €156 billion economic plan, Solidarity Pact II, came into force in 2005, and provides the financial basis for the advancement and special promotion of economy of the new federal states until 2019.[7] The "solidarity tax", a 5.5% surcharge on the income tax, was instated by the Kohl government to restore the infrastructure of the new states to the levels of the western ones.[11] The tax, which raises €11 billion a year, will be maintained until 2019 at least.[11]

Ever since the reunification, the unemployment rate in the east has been almost twice that of the west, currently at 12.7%[12] (as of April 2010) after having reached a maximum of 18.7% in 2005. In the 1999-2009 decade, economic activity per person has risen from 67% to 71% of western Germany.[10] According to Wolfgang Tiefensee in 2009, the minister then responsible for the development of the new federal states, “The gap is closing.”[10] Eastern Germany is also the part of the country least affected by the current financial crisis.[13]

All the new federal states, excluding Berlin, qualify as Objective 1 development regions within the European Union, and are eligible to receive investment subsidies of up to 30% until 2013.


The "German Unity Transport Projects" (Verkehrsprojekte Deutsche Einheit) is a programme launched in 1991 and meant to upgrade the infrastructure of eastern Germany, and modernise transport links between the old and new federal states.[14]

The 17 VDE comprise 9 rail and 7 motorway projects plus one waterway project, for a total funding of €38.5 billion. As of 2009, all 17 projects are either under construction or have already been completed.[15] The construction of new railway lines and high-speed upgrades of existing lines reduced journey times between Berlin and Hanover from over four hours to 96 minutes.[14] Due to increasing car usage and depopulation since reunification many railway lines (branches and main lines) have been closed by the unified Deutsche Bahn (German Railways).

"DEGES" (Deutsche Einheit Fernstraßenplanungs- und -bau GmbH) is the state-owned project management institution responsible for the construction of approximately 1,360 km of federal roads within the VDE, for a total investment of €10.2 billion. It is also involved in other transport projects, including a 435 km of roads for approximately € 1,760 million as well as the City-Tunnel in Leipzig, an investment of €685 million.[16]

The Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan 2003 includes plans for the extension of the A14 from Magdeburg to Schwerin and construction of the A72 from Chemnitz to Leipzig.[15]

Private ownership rates of cars have increased markedly since 1990: in 1988, 55% of East German households had at least one car, in 1993 it had already risen to 67%, and to 71% in 1998. This compares to the West German rates of 61% for 1988, 74% for 1993 and 76% for 1998.[17][18]


The socialist party The Left (Die Linke, fusioned with the Party of Democratic Socialism, the GDR state party's successor, as main component) has been successful throughout eastern Germany, capitalising on the continued disparity of living conditions and salaries with western Germany, and high unemployment.[19]

Far right

Supporters of the NPD during a march in Berlin

After 1990, far right and Nationalist groups gained followers. Some sources[who?] claim mostly among people frustrated by the high unemployment and the poor economic situation.[20] Der Spiegel also points out that these people are mostly single men and that there may also be social-demographic reasons.[21]

The National Democratic Party of Germany won 9.2% of the vote in 2004 state parliament elections, and the party has eight seats in the state parliament in Dresden, just behind the 13 held by the Social Democrats. Far right parties also have seats in the parliaments of Brandenburg and in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.[22]

In the Saxony state election of September 2009 the NPD lost votes (-3.6%) and seats (-4),[23] while in the same month the German People's Union lost its representation in the Landtag of Brandenburg.[24]

A survey of 14 to 25-year-olds carried out by the Forsa opinion poll institute found that one out of two youths in eastern Germany now believe that National Socialism had “its good sides”.[20]

In 2009, Junge Landsmannschaft Ostdeutschland, which is supported by the NPD, organized a march on the anniversary of the Bombing of Dresden in World War II. There were 6,000 Nationalists, met by tens of thousands of anti-Nazis and several thousand police.[25]


The population density of the new German states is lower than that of the old states.

About 1.7 million people have left the new federal states since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or 12% of the population.[10] A disproportionately high number of them were women under 35.[21] In fact about 500,000 women aged under 30 have left for western Germany in the past 15 years.[26]

After 1990, the fertility rate in the East dropped to 0.77. In 2006, the rates in the new states (1.30) are approaching those in the West (1.37).[27] Since 1989, about 2,000 schools have closed because of a paucity of children.[10]

In some regions the number of women between the ages of 20 and 30 has dropped by more than 30 percent.[10] In 2004, in the age group 18-29 (statistically important for starting families) there were only 90 women for every 100 men in the new federal states (including Berlin).[27] In parts of the state of Thuringia, there are 82 women for every 100 men.[26] The town of Königstein has the biggest demographic imbalance in Europe between young men and women.[26] This has led to the concern to local leaders, as a large imbalance of males to females is usually linked to historical social instabilities and increased crime rates.[26]

Around 300,000 homes have been demolished in recent years. In parts of eastern Germany, wolves and lynx have reappeared after many decades.[26]

Demographic evolution

Brandenburg had a population of 2,660,000 in 1989, and 2,523,000 in December 2008.[28] It has the second lowest population density in Germany. In 1995, it became the only new state to experience population growth, aided by the vicinity of Berlin.[29]

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, population of 1,970,000 in 1989, 1,666,000 in November 2008.[28] The local Landtag held several inquiries over population trends, the opposition has requested an annual report on the topic.[29]

Saxony, population of 5,003,000 in 1989, which fell to only 4,189,000 in January 2009.[28] It still remains the most populous among the five new states. In ten years the state lost 11.3% of its inhabitants. The proportion of the population under 20 fell from 24.6% in 1988 to 19.7% in 1999.[29] Dresden and Leipzig are among the fastest growing cities in Germany both rising their population over half a million inhabitants again and in strong contrast to the other districts of Saxony.

Saxony-Anhalt, population of 2,960,000 in 1989, 2,379,000 in January 2009.[28] The state has a long history of demographic decline: its current territory had a population of 4,100,000 in 1945. The emigration already began during the GDR years.[29]

Thuringia, population of 2,680,000 in 1989, 2,265,000 in January 2009.[28] In Thuringia, the migration has less of an impact than the decrease of the fertility rate. Former Minister-President Bernhard Vogel called for a stop to the exodus of skilled workers and young people.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Breaking Down the Wall in the Head". Deutsche Welle. 2004-10-03.,1564,1344803,00.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  2. ^ Cameron Abadi (07/08-2009). "The Berlin fall". Foreign Policy.,2. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Noch nicht angekommen - Survey of 2900 adults in the New Länder in summer 2008". Berliner Zeitung. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  4. ^ a b "East German brands thrive 20 years after end of Communism". Deutsche Welle. 2009-10-03.,,4752593,00.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  5. ^ a b Balmer, Etienne (2009-10-19). "'Women's love lives were better in East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell'". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  6. ^ "Out-of-wedlock births show huge east-west German divide". The Local. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  7. ^ a b c "Aufbau Ost, economic reconstruction in the East". Deutsche Bundesregierung. 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2009-10-12. [dead link]
  8. ^ "The Price of a Failed Reunification". Spiegel International. 2005-09-05.,1518,373639,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  9. ^ a b c Boyes, Roger (2007-08-24). "Germany starts recovery from €2,000bn union". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Kulish (2009-06-19). "In East Germany, a Decline as Stark as a Wall". New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Hall, Allan (2007-08-01). "Calls grow to lift burden of Germany's solidarity tax". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  12. ^ Current statistics of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit comparing east and west
  13. ^ "Eastern Germany Less Hard Hit than the West". Spiegel International.,1518,629662,00.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  14. ^ a b "Infrastructure for unified Germany". Federal Government Commissioner for the New Federal States.,2577/Infrastructure-for-unified-Ger.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-11. [dead link]
  15. ^ a b "Draft Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan". United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  16. ^ "Firmenprofil". DEGES. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  17. ^ Wilhelm Hinrichs: Die Ostdeutschen in Bewegung – Formen und Ausmaß regionaler Mobilität in den neuen Bundesländern (PDF-Dokument)
  18. ^ bpb: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: Die DDR in den siebziger Jahren
  19. ^ DIE LINKE: Ostdeutschland
  20. ^ a b Boyes, Roger (2007-08-20). "Neo-Nazi rampage triggers alarm in Berlin". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  21. ^ a b "Lack of Women in Eastern Germany Feeds Neo-Nazis". Spiegel International. 2007-05-31.,1518,485942,00.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  22. ^ "Right-Wing Extremists Find Ballot-Box Success in Saxony". Spiegel International. 2008-09-06.,1518,558508,00.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  23. ^ "Landtagswahl in Sachsen". Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  24. ^ "Landtagswahl Brandenburg 2009". Tagesschau. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  25. ^ Patrick Donahue. "Skinheads, Neo-Nazis Draw Fury at Dresden 1945 ‘Mourning March’". Retrieved 2009 02 14. 
  26. ^ a b c d e Burke, Jason (2008-01-27). "Slow death of a small German town as women pack up and head west". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  27. ^ a b "The Demographic State of the Nation". Berlin Institute for Population and Development. 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  28. ^ a b c d e "Gemeinsames Datenangebot der Statistischen Ämter des Bundes und der Länder". Statistik-Portal. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  29. ^ a b c d e "Abwanderung aus den neuen Bundesländern von 1989 bis 2000". Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. 2001.,3,0,Abwanderung_aus_den_neuen_Bundesl%25E4ndern_von_1989_bis_2000.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 

External links

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