The fall of the Wall in November 1989 paved the way for reunification less than a year later. At the time, the differences between both parts of Germany were very obvious and easy to spot. Now, 27 years later, the many ways in which East and West have grown together are equally obvious.
However, in a few respects Germany is still divided by an invisible border. Read on to find out more about the remaining differences.
Voting Behaviour: Communism Lite
The GDR was a socialist state, and large parts the population of former East Germany remain in thrall to the main tenets of socialism, as election results have demonstrated time and again over the past years.
To pick the most recent example, in last month’s general election, the Socialist Unity Party’s successor, the Left Party (die Linke), achieved wildly divergent outcomes on both sides of the former border.
While the Left’s share of the vote exceeded 25 percent in some regions of the former East, it struggled to reach more than 4 or 5 percent in many western constituencies.
A Question of Faith
Religion is another issue that continues to split the country neatly along its long-defunct border. In many western regions, more than 50 percent of people are registered members of a church.
In eastern parts of Germany, the picture is reversed, with far fewer than 50 percent of the population registered as church members.
In the city of Weimar, a staggering 94 percent were unaffiliated with any religion.
Although the right to free exercise of religion was officially enshrined in GDR law, the government did its best to restrict the influence of the church. Over the country’s 40-year existence, this policy was largely successful: while almost 94 percent of East Germans identified as Christians in 1949, this figure had fallen to 30 percent by 1989.
Demographic Trends: Depopulation
After the fall of the Wall, the former East experienced significant changes to its population structure. These were particularly noticeable in rural areas, with young people leaving in droves to move to the West.
Although the mass exodus from the East to the West has stopped by now, the depopulation of rural regions is increasingly affecting parts of the former West as well. Meanwhile, urban and metropolitan areas are experiencing a rise in popularity that continues to swell their population.
Housing Market: Relationship between Supply and Demand
Of course, demographic trends have a significant impact on the housing market. Accordingly, housing demand in rural regions across Germany is stagnating or, in many eastern and some western areas, even diminishing.
Urban and metropolitan areas, on the other hand, are faced with the opposite problem. Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich are all struggling with housing shortages, as are cities such as Leipzig, Dresden and Potsdam in the former East.
It goes without saying that the same applies to Berlin, where a chronically strained housing market promises high returns on property investments in desirable locations such as Strausberger Platz. Central Berlin offers a great choice of apartments for sale on Strausberger Platz.