Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the legacy of reunification continues to fragment German identity

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the legacy of reunification continues to fragment German identity

The demand for an identity distinct from that of the West is increasingly present in the East where a majority of Germans consider themselves to be second-class citizens.

It is a wall 3 meters high and 100 meters long, bordered on one side by a stream and on the other by a small country road. A sign at the water's edge indicates that it once served as a route between the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). On the road, we could still see, a few days ago, a series of election posters hanging on lampposts or placed on the ground. All were in the image of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, campaigning for the regional elections on October 27 in Thuringia.

They all spoke of the "peaceful revolution" of 1989, in which Germany this fall celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. The opportunity for the AfD to present itself as the spokesperson for the angry East Germans, to denounce the unfulfilled commitments of reunification and to promise to "end the turning point" started in 1989 . One of the slogans of the far right party: "Today like yesterday: freedom rather than socialism".

Klaus Grünzner and Marcel Zapf are no stranger to it: they are dismayed by the way the far-right party manipulates the history of Germany for electoral purposes. The two men grew up on both sides of this concrete wall which, from 1966 to 1989, cut in two Mödlareuth, village of 40 & nbsp; inhabitants nicknamed the “& nbsp; small Berlin & nbsp;” in the time of the cold war and where US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Thursday, November 7, two days before participating in the 30th anniversary ceremonies of the fall of the Wall in the German capital.

Today Klaus Grünzner is the mayor of Töpen, the Bavarian part of Mödlareuth formerly in West Germany & nbsp ;; Marcel Zapf is the mayor of Gefell, half of the village formerly in the GDR and now in the Land of Thuringia. Conservatively sensitive, the two men readily admit that mistakes may have been made during the reunification. But they do not understand that a party like the AfD can make it its electoral trade fund, nor that, in the public space, the negative speeches sometimes outweigh the positive judgments. Above all, they are concerned that thirty years later, the two Germans sometimes find it so hard to understand each other.

For the two mayors, in fact, history has definitely decided: "& nbsp; We must remember what our life was like at the time. Here we were brought up with the idea that our neighbors to the west, on the other side of the Wall, were the bad guys. Of course, the reunification could have destabilized. But to talk too much about the failures, some forget the essential, namely this freedom that we have won, we, the people of the East & nbsp; ", explains Marcel Zapf. Klaus Grünzner remembers "& nbsp; the incredible joy & nbsp;" which exploded on December 9 & nbsp; 1989 when, a month after that of Berlin, the wall of Mödlareuth opened in turn. A wall of which 100 meters (out of 700) have been preserved as a memorial. A wall whose vestige, according to the two mayors, should encourage the 80,000 visitors passing through Mödlareuth each year to congratulate themselves on the progress made rather than brooding over the frustrations arising from reunification.

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