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European heritage 30 years after German reunification

Inga Kjer / IEP
Inga Kjer / IEP

Various perspectives connect European memory with German reunification. Experts have analysed which consequences emerged from German reunification after 1990 for the further European integration process.

German reunification influences the European identity of the 21st century. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the Leipzig Monday demonstrations or the reunification of divided families play a central role in German collective memory. However, the image of reunification as a "German success story" is changing due to increasingly critical aspects. The controversial Treuhandanstalt or a stronger scepticism towards democratic institutions reflect this tendency.

In addition to the social upheavals, the German party landscape has also transformed after the fall of the Berlin Wall. "The abuse and instrumentalisation of 1989 were particularly shaped by Pegida and the AfD", emphasised Greta Hartmann of the University of Leipzig. Hence, more than 30 years after the reunification process, significant differences in voting behaviour between East and West can still be identified, as the 2021 Bundestag election made clear.

Neighbouring countries such as Poland or France have their individual perspectives on German reunification. While satisfaction about the collapse of socialism still prevails in Poland today, stereotypes and mistrust dominate the image of Germany at the same time. Encounters, exchanges and cultural cooperation can counteract these stereotypes in everyday life. France, on the other hand, had a positive attitude towards the German-German reunification. "German reunification was necessary for a common European policy," said Frédéric Petit, member of the French parliament.

The discussion which took place in the framework of the "rEUnify" project, was moderated by Simone Klee of the IEP.

Team & authors

About the rEUnify: A comparative study of national perceptions regarding German reunification project: What is the significance of German reunification for Europe today? The project rEUnify compares and discusses historical memories and national perceptions of German reunification in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, France and the Czech Republic.

Image copyright: Inga Kjer / IEP