According to an article in Der Spiegel, young people and the better off are among those rebuffing criticism of East Germany as an “illegitimate state.” He is aware of the spying and repression that went on in the former East Germany, and, as he says, it was “not a good thing that people couldn’t leave the country and many were oppressed.” As an apologist for the former East German dictatorship, the young Mecklenburg native shares a majority view of people from eastern Germany.
Today, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 57 percent, or an absolute majority, of eastern Germans defend the former East Germany.
Eight percent of eastern Germans flatly oppose all criticism of their former home and agree with the statement: “The GDR had, for the most part, good sides.
“Many eastern Germans perceive all criticism of the system as a personal attack,” says political scientist Klaus Schroeder, 59, director of an institute at Berlin’s Free University that studies the former communist state.
“Not even half of young people in eastern Germany describe the GDR as a dictatorship, and a majority believe the Stasi was a normal intelligence service,” Schroeder concluded in a 2008 study of school students.
The political scientist has now compiled a selection of typical letters to document the climate of opinion in which the GDR and unified Germany are discussed in eastern Germany.
“From today’s perspective, I believe that we were driven out of paradise when the Wall came down,” one person writes, and a 38-year-old man “thanks God” that he was able to experience living in the GDR, noting that it wasn’t until after German reunification that he witnessed people who feared for their existence, beggars and homeless people.
Today’s Germany is described as a “slave state” and a “dictatorship of capital,” and some letter writers reject Germany for being, in their opinion, too capitalist or dictatorial, and certainly not democratic.