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Twenty years in the making

Despite the grumblings of a few sidelined intellectuals and the lingering sense that east Germans are second-class citizens, the former GDR has come an amazingly long way

By Anne McElvoy   November 2009

Election slogan that upset Merkel: “We have more to offer” I was talking to a teacher in Leipzig about his students and their response to the fall of the Berlin wall. “Whether it’s 1789 or 1989—it’s all the same to them,” he told me. “They don’t know much about either.” The aftermath of the German Democratic Republic has lasted half as long as its short, inglorious life, but young east Germans already treat it as a distant world.

The debates, arguments and clashes of that time are still, however, keenly felt by those who were there. They still define…

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