Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a reunified Germany still experiences differences in wages and unemployment between its east and west sides. One town in eastern Germany is hoping to change that, by attracting businesses and visitors from its former Soviet-bloc neighbors. CCTV America’s Owen Fairclough reported this story.
When the wall came down, there was a stampede to the West. Eastern Germans went in droves looking for work in the wealthier part of Germany. In the town of Goerlitz, which borders Poland, almost half its newly-free population left and it became one of the poorest regions in Germany.
“At first, everything was oriented to the west, and everyone wanted to work in the west and to see the west. That means we had to deal with a massive exodus,” said Livia Kaiser, a project manager at Europasatadt Goerlitz Zgorzelec.
Today, the town is building closer economic ties with its newly-prosperous eastern neighbors to help stir the local economy. While unemployment in Germany is 6.3 percent, lower than many European nations, it’s 9 percent in eastern Germany, and 5.6 percent in western Germany.
“With the EU membership in 2004 of the Czech Republic and Poland, many things changed in the city, and Goerlitz can really profit from that, from the situation,” Kaiser said.
Goerlitz’s old town has been refurbished, drawing tourists and investors. A new luxury shopping center will open soon, aimed at attracting Polish day-trippers. Polish manufacturers are also increasingly setting up shop in Germany.
For more on the anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling, CCTV America interviewed Constanze Stelzenmueller, a Germany expert at the Brookings Institute who was a student in 1989 and watched the wall fall from overseas.