Shepherd presented at a press conference the "Annual Report on the State of German Unity", which the Federal Government had decided on the same day. Unsurprisingly, it officially states: "The report outlines the progress made in the convergence of East and West, and in particular honors the Peaceful Revolution in the GDR, which marks its 30th anniversary." This was also the tenor of what the East Commissioned to do so.
For example, Hirte explained that the Federal Government has had a "high esteem and attention" for East Germany for two years. Why the Cabinet Committee "New countries" after 18 years until 2018 again met, he did not respond. For this he presented the current "action fields" of this committee, with which East Germany and the growing together between East and West should be strengthened.
Symbolic policy in the first place
It is hardly surprising that symbolic policy is the top priority for the Federal Government: "Joint commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall and German unity" is the first "action field of central importance". "The Federal Government will make a contribution to making the jubilee year 2019/2020 a one-time jubilee for the entire country," she explains. So symbolically it continues in the following two points, before as the fourth field of action the "equivalent living conditions" and even later, among other things, the promotion of business.
"The economic power of East Germany has risen from 43 percent in 1990 to 75 percent of the West German level in 2018." This is what the Eastern Commissioner in his press release on what he sees as great successes. In the press conference he described as a starting point: 30 years ago, the GDR economy had only a quarter of the German economic power. The GDR had been "completely economically ailing", shepherd repeated old, long refuted legends. He referred again to the so-called "Schürer paper" of October 30, 1989 on the economic situation of the country.
At the same time, the Federal Government's East Commissioner regretted that the former GDR area had been deprived of the "free market" for 40 years. Therefore, no big companies could have developed there that would be missing today. After all, he found that the East is often only the "extended workbench" for the big corporations from the West today. The added value then takes place in West Germany, which pushes the East German statistics down.
The West as a winner
Hirte drew attention to problems in his "predominantly positive conclusion" of the successes since 1990, which the East Germans could be proud of. The economic as well as the lower economic output and average wages to 84 per cent of the west level are in his view the "economic collapse after 1990" owed.
Shepherd also referred to the "massive population loss" of about two million East Germans since 1990, especially women and young well-trained professionals. "In the positive sense, what we had to offer in the West was what we had to offer in the East: young, committed, well-educated people who contributed to the great economic dynamism in the West." Germany did not have any economic or social problems with German unity, the East Commissioner stated. The West Germans would not understand the "big upheavals for the people from the lost GDR until today, he regretted after all.
Shepherd spoke of the feeling of many in East Germany to be disadvantaged. Although he usually does not consider this justified. But he sees "objectively justified connecting points" for these feelings. The negative experiences with the collapse in the East made sure that East German changes would be more skeptical, he tried in the psychological diagnosis. However, according to the report, two-thirds of those living in East Germany would now assess their personal situation better than they did in 1990.
East German doubts about unity
According to a poll conducted for the Federal Government, "57 percent of East Germans see themselves as second-class citizens," states the unitary report this year. "Only about 38 percent of respondents in the East believe that reunification is a success", was previously reported. In people under 40, it is even only about 20 percent, it said. In addition, just under half of East Germans are "rather dissatisfied" with the real existing West German democracy.
"The proportion of citizens who fully identify with the Federal Republic is on the whole rising, especially among younger age groups, more restrained among older people. Statements that want to regain the GDR or the wall, are mainly hit by the unemployed. They are not aimed at restoration, but at the creation of equal living conditions. "
These are statements from the last social report on the social situation and mood in the eastern German states from the year 2015. The recently deceased social scientist Gunnar Winkler had published since the last in a long series of such analyzes since 1990. As in the previous editions, the report financed by the Sozialverband Volkssolidarität (Social Solidarity of the People's Solidarity) stated that the majority of East Germans had "not yet arrived properly".
Persistent current findings
A finding that, apart from the concrete percentage differences, is no less topical today than it was four years ago: "Altogether, a relatively stable, albeit initially low, but increasingly increasing, identification as 'German citizen' is noticeable in the new Länder. While in 1997 only 16 percent fully identified with the new, unified Germany, their share increased to 33 percent by 2014. "
Winkler then pointed out, as in previous years, with his colleagues from the Social Science Research Center Berlin-Brandenburg (SFZ), that the cause of the findings is not in any "ostalgic" sensitivities. The feeling of the East Germans to be fully-fledged German citizens is "increasingly influenced by the real living conditions and the existing inequalities to the old federal states."
The Social Report of 2015 showed that "with regard to the assessment of the individual effects of the association, there is a higher degree of agreement between the statements of the citizens of the new federal states and those of the former federal territory." According to this, 47 percent and 46 percent "both in East and West West for itself profits "seen.
East German frustration instead of unity joy
And: "While in the new countries, for 28 percent, profits and losses offset and 18 percent more likely to see losses, the rating of West German citizens is slightly negative. Overall, 21 percent see losses as a whole and 20 percent claim both profits and losses. "
Whether the East Commissioner Hirte drives into his native state of Thuringia before it is elected there at the end of October, the new state legislature, he did not betray. If he did that and tried to explain to those who remained there how successful German unity is, they would perhaps be reminded of the propaganda slogans of the SED shortly before the demise of the GDR. Even then, all actual achievements were talked bigger than they were.
At that time people turned away, today they do it again, not only in Thuringia. The supposed alternative that many of them will choose, as they did in Saxony and Brandenburg before, is only an apparent one. But the new unitary report will not convince them, nor prevent them from expressing their frustration in this way. Whether they first look forward to the "historic stroke of luck" almost 30 years ago, the shepherd exuberantly evoked on Tuesday, will show.