The New Kohlonization

Letter From East Berlin

The euphoria that accompanied the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, should still be fresh in our minds. We remember the scenes of people dancing on the Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate, total strangers embracing each other, sharing bottles of champagne. We remember the party atmosphere that culminated in reunification in October 1990. Today I am writing to tell of the hangover that has followed the party.

"Hangover" is actually not the best word to describe what I saw in the eastern part of Berlin from February to July of 1992, because a hangover goes away over the course of time and the pain and frustration in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) have been getting worse, not better. If you have followed events in Germany since the Will came down, you have probably heard sentences like: "Now that the actual physical Wall has come down, we have to break down the mental walls that still separate us." I want to suggest that the wall in the mind is growing higher instead of getting lower and that this wall is not just a mental phenomenon but has its basis in actuality. Consider this fact, trivial in itself but symptomatic: in 1991 about 100 women in West Berlin married men from Africa; only 46 married men from East Berlin.

East Berlin today presents a different appearance than it did the last time I was there two years ago. The very air in the East is different from what it used...

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