posts 16 - 30 of 36
Chameleon23
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Division and Prejudices

While it is unfortunate that thirty years after a country’s unification there is so much division, I am not surprised by it at all. Throughout history, there have been many prejudices that take a long time to go away. For example, racial biases are still a major source of prejudice in the United States despite racially biased practices having been abolished a long time ago. It is difficult for an entire population to suddenly change their minds about something that has been going on for many years, and the divide between east and west Germany is a prime example of this. The cohesion of a nation is affected by many factors, however, among the most important are the general agreeance of the population on political matters, and the absence of bias and contention between groups. These factors can be seen in both Germany and in the US, as politics and biases create a divide between the people. I believe that it is very difficult for people to understand regional identities that they have little contact with because their opinions are formed solely on information that they receive from others. The disconnectedness between regions leads to people forming ideas that are based on other peoples’ claims, rather than personal experiences. In order to understand regional identities, and avoid prejudices, it is important to be educated, and not make general assumptions about an entire population of individuals.

blueslothbear
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Reunification? Easy. Cohesion? Harder.

First off, I think it's crazy that reunification happened 30 years ago. The idea that video games had existed for 20 years before the falling of the wall, or that Home Alone came out that year is mind boggling. The question of a social divide, when such massive advancements outside of the GDR were made, clearly is understandable. I think that the biggest affect on cohesion of a country is the willingness of its citizens to find similarities, and much like post-bellum America, there always tend to be many repercussions that will echo into the future.
softballgirl18
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 9

30 Years

It's crazy to think the unification of Germany was only 30 years ago. I feel like as someone of a German family I should know more about Germany's history and politics, but I am working on it. I feel like something this important should be talked about more, considering everything going on in the world now, I'm surprised I've never really learned about it. I just did some more research on this subject and I would love to learn more about it.

yeahhokay
Dorchester , MA, US
Posts: 10

Learned a lot about Germany's society.

Aspects of the German society over the past 30 years that surprised me was the fact that the unification of Germany was put in order due to peaceful protests and no violence needed, which big movements usually done by acts of violence such as war. As well as the fact that it was only 30 years ago even though it feels longer. What also was interesting is the fact Germany looks up to the U.S. and if it wasn’t for them, they wouldn’t have done what they done. What also was interesting is how with the unification the East struggled a lot more, even though the premise was to make more equal opportunities there. What affects the cohesion of a country is the different political views of the people. As it was explained in Germany there are very extreme people of the left and then again on the right which makes divide in a country and it very difficult to come to an agreement. President Steinmeir’s views as well as apply lot to the United States today as even though unification was brought there is still a lot of work to be done, even though the country is as unified as it's ever been. As well as the political parties dividing the country, like in America with the republicans and democrats. As well as America has a huge economic and poverty gap that is very far apart based on where people live, ethnicity, race etc. I can understand regional identities despite having little contact because the underlying issues are very similar to the United States although not being exact. Just like in America when the Civil Rights laws passed in the 1960s, oppression is still so prevalent in society and although it has gotten better it is still playing a huge effect and isn’t going anywhere soon. Just like how even though unification was brought to all of Germany the East is still oppressed and look down on and seem to not be able to completely adjust and are continued to look down upon. As well as America having mainly white people in high positions of government, although everyone has the same rights POC have very little representation in government. Just as the democracy in Germany, there are hardly any people from the East in high positions of government. Making a understanding between the problems faced in the country that I live and in Germany that our systematic issues are almost the same but in different forms.
SwedishFish
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

The System

Just like the rest of my peers, based on reading their posts have little to no knowledge about Germany’s history. In AP world history last year I learned a little but about the Berlin Wall but never put this event into perspective. Only 30 years ago...I mean we read about the 90’s all the time but I never associated the Berlin Wall, the Cold War and German reunification to occur during this time period. I found a really interesting point from one of the student’s who shared their perspective, mentioning how East Germany is “underrepresented” and has a lot of “financial disadvantages” because Germany’s large companies aren’t there. Now, I wonder why this is? Is there still an implicit bias against East Germany? Does greater Germany want to keep East Germany at a disadvantage? If yes, why? Why would one country that is supposed to be unified purposefully fault a section of Germany for its actions even after their amends? This seems to be a common theme in our history. We see effects of redlining, systemic racism and undeveloped neighborhoods and cities that have been left untouched (Baltimore, Flint, Kensington, Skid Row). For residents in East Germany to feel like “second class citizens” is wrong, this does not fully represent the meaning of reunification and must be mended. Cohesion of a nation is affected by lack of cooperation and acceptance. While reading the article I noticed this quote, “According to the president, the division in Germany is no longer just between the eastern and western parts of Germany; it is becoming more mainstream between people who believe in democracy and those who question it," said Nina Haase, DW's political correspondent in Berlin, which I related to current events in the US. During the BLM movement many people stated that this isn’t black versus white, racists versus non-racists, its racists versus ANTI- racists. I think this brings up a great point about how certain conflicts require much more than to not be the oppressor but to call out every oppressor too, to be Anti- whatever it may be. Even in our 2020 election how this race is more than Biden versus Trump, its Trump versus Anti-Trump. So, when President Steinmeier states that the division in Germany is more than east versus west, he emphasizes that there is a greater picture. And over my 16 years of living I have obviously made my own judgements about different regions in the U.S. I have never been to the south but I assume that many people who live there might be racist. I have never been to the West Coast but I assume that everybody there surfs. I have never been to Iowa or Utah but I assume that everybody there has a farm. All of these identities I have created in my head go along with that greater picture I mentioned earlier. There’s a lot more layers to people, places, and things than we think so it is important to learn and educate others for a more unified state of acceptance.

SwedishFish
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Originally posted by plaidplatypus on October 08, 2020 15:12

My mom especially loves to talk about how the south is dangerous, and full of gun toting, racist lunatics and that has shaped my views. I think the fact that I, 150 years after the civil war, have prejudice against southerners that stems from the civil war says a lot, and I couldn’t imagine how being divided only 30 years ago creates separation.

I agree! I have these talks a lot with my family as well, almost in fear to ever visit the south. I think that plaidpltypus made a great point about how we still face the affects of the Civil War even after 150 years...And Germany's only being 30 years ago, there must be a greater tension. With that being said, 150 years from now where do you see Germany???

graphicmango
Posts: 15

Germany 30 Years After; America 56 Years After?

While I am surprised that the reunification of East and West Germany occurred so recently, it isn’t surprising that the long period of separation has left social and economic effects that are still seen today. The United States has seen similar lasting effects: Black Americans today are often disadvantaged by systemic racism, the less-visible but still-harmful product of slavery. Also, I find the difference between President Steinmeier’s speech and our presidential candidates’ speaking stark, to say the least. I find it telling how Steinmeier makes a point to rejoice in the diversity of Germany nowadays and condemn the persecution of “Catholics, socialists and Jews” and political restrictions against women. Meanwhile, President Trump found himself unable to condemn white supremacy, an institution that has persecuted Black people and prevented them from participating in politics.

gibby
Posts: 13

Division and how it affects people

The division and unification of Germany was obviously not an isolated event in world history. There are countless instances of division and unification of places all over the globe, but the Berlin wall and the division of East and West Germany was unique in several ways. The thing that struck me the most when thinking about this was the division that still exists. Although these boundaries were imposed by other countries, it appears that there is still quite a divide between Eastern and Western Germany. This suggests to me that the effect of foreign imperialism is far greater than we have ever measured; as shown by the case of German division that is still present today. However, this division, from a standpoint of an American, does not appear to create a serious problem in the cohesion of Germany as a whole. One thing I wonder about is how this division affects people's every day lives, and how large a problem it truly creates for German society. Many countries face division such as this, but likely not on such a great scale. It is obvious that humans have a tendency to feel a regional identity with the place that they were born, and this is a good example. Human nature, while it seems unites us on a regional scale, also can divide us.

UnKnown
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Unification

Like what others have said, I found it surprising that Germany’s reunification was only 30 years ago. I definitely thought it would have happened way more than 30 years ago. Even though Germany became unified, the people there don’t believe they are 100% unified. They feel like there is some sort of divide between the east and the west. There is the same sort of feeling here in the US with the north and the south. Being born in the north and living here for my entire life, I don’t know much about the south other than what others have said about them which has shaped me into believing that they are like people from a different country. Many northerners have never gone to the south and you could probably say the same for southerners going to the north. Even though the US has been a unified country for over a century now, there is still a divide between us and I believe it might take a while for Germany to become fully unified.

mellifluously
Allston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Dichotomies 😍

I’d say that at this moment, any attempt to keep a nation in a state of cohesion feels impossible. Spinning this towards the US quickly before I move onto my general point, look at what COVID has done—it’s spurred so much desire to go out and protest due to issues that still (and shouldn’t) occur, such as police brutality. This as a result ultimately divides our nation, to the point where fly-on-head man (Pence; I know, I had to joke about it) and Senator Harris brought it up on Thursday’s debate. Overall, this makes me believe that environmental factors serve as at least one way the cohesiveness of a nation could be impacted. As for Germany and its division into the East/West, that was more because of politics (and of course, war, which you could argue falls under that category). Particularly, though, I don’t want to specifically say what interested me or surprised me; more, what didn’t surprise me: the idea that the split was a result of war and that the reunification was a result of peace. The dichotomy, am I right? Then again, this was in the 90s. Things were looking up in the world. Technology, the fall of the Soviet Union, the disappearance of the fear of a possible doom (i.e. mass death) from nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union. Yeah. Things were nice then. I vividly remember one capstone presentation from my sixie year (for the people in Germany, it’s seventh grade at BLS, it’s called that because we were essentially 5 year olds) where one presentation described how Germany is also still living down its negative connotation due to what happened in World War II, despite its growth and peacefulness it currently maintains. Emphasis on the peacefulness, again referring back to the reunification of the East and West. Nonetheless, it is somewhat disheartening to hear that this celebration of 30 years since the reunification couldn’t occur because of COVID. Maybe next year. 31 doesn’t sound as cool as 30, but it’s close enough.
mellifluously
Allston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Prejudices

Originally posted by SwedishFish on October 08, 2020 23:48

Originally posted by plaidplatypus on October 08, 2020 15:12

My mom especially loves to talk about how the south is dangerous, and full of gun toting, racist lunatics and that has shaped my views. I think the fact that I, 150 years after the civil war, have prejudice against southerners that stems from the civil war says a lot, and I couldn’t imagine how being divided only 30 years ago creates separation.

I agree! I have these talks a lot with my family as well, almost in fear to ever visit the south. I think that plaidpltypus made a great point about how we still face the effects of the Civil War even after 150 years...And Germany's only being 30 years ago, there must be a greater tension. With that being said, 150 years from now where do you see Germany???

I wouldn't say I've had these talks with my family, but it's clearly something that comes up frequently. The whole idea that the south is wholly uneducated and has no regard for equality or safety or a belief in science is so common that often, it's quite simply just pop culture. Similarly to how I said in my post, and how you both captured that idea, because of what happened decades (but in the case of America, a little over a century) ago, the nation (be it Germany with Nazis or Southern US with confederates, racists, etc.), this type of prejudice and judgment prevails to the point where it feels like a form of discrimination. Some people have a genuine aversion to Germany because of its past association with the Nazi party, even though that was over half a century ago. Again, similarly with southern US, they're seen as lowly, uneducated, etc., when that's not the case and only applied to the Civil War era. Times change, but prejudices often don't. I personally believe that to some extent, it's the history textbooks' fault, because of how they frame those societies, and we grow up knowing only such things about those locations, thus impacting our biases towards said locations. In that case, it makes me wonder: how would the south see us? How would Germany see us, seeing as the US fought against Germany during WWII? It's an interesting thought.

mellifluously
Allston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Separations

Originally posted by graphicmango on October 08, 2020 23:51

While I am surprised that the reunification of East and West Germany occurred so recently, it isn’t surprising that the long period of separation has left social and economic effects that are still seen today. The United States has seen similar lasting effects: Black Americans today are often disadvantaged by systemic racism, the less-visible but still-harmful product of slavery. Also, I find the difference between President Steinmeier’s speech and our presidential candidates’ speaking stark, to say the least. I find it telling how Steinmeier makes a point to rejoice in the diversity of Germany nowadays and condemn the persecution of “Catholics, socialists and Jews” and political restrictions against women. Meanwhile, President Trump found himself unable to condemn white supremacy, an institution that has persecuted Black people and prevented them from participating in politics.

I do like the comparison between the physical and abstract (AKA the systemic) divisions. You'd assume that the physical division would be more detrimental (for example, economic issues —> tensions w/in sectors —> fights —> possible rapid collapse, etc.), but an abstract division is so much more powerful and lasting. I'm glad that Germany has a president that actively fights for equality. Don't really know what's going on here. We're in some sort of dumpster fire. I think.

TraderJoe's
Posts: 16

Regional Difference Phenomenon, AFD Party Questions for the German Students, and my opinion on Merkel's successors

I want to thank Mr. Schirmer and students at Reuchlin-Gymnasium for the wonderful opportunity to have productive conversations around the political state of Germany.

My knowledge on German politics is very limited but I can speak to the cultural differences and stereotypes between different regions of the same nation. With America, as many others before me have stated, the nation is divided in different regions, each that holds a specific stereotype. For example, the Southern region of America is stereotypically racist, confederate, and uneducated while the North East is filled with emotional, stuck up liberals. Similar to Germany, the Southern part of America is paid less and the cost of living is less expensive due to less taxation (less money is allocated towards education and healthcare in the South). The Civil Rights Movement has ended nearly 50 years ago yet cultural difference continue to exist today.

This phenomenon of reunification and remaining cultural differences exists in Vietnam. Coming from a Vietnamese American family, my mom often connects with many other Vietnamese people living in the area. One of the first questions she'll typically ask them upon introduction is "Did you come from North Vietnam or South Vietnam", where South Vietnam is regarded more highly compared to the North as a result of the Vietnam War. Visting Vietnam, I have the privilege of having both sides of my family be from different regions, (my mom's side in the Central/North area of Vietnam while my dad's in the South). The Central/North has incredibly poor housing and no healthcare whatsoever. Many make their living off selling locally grown fruits or handmade crafts in a village market. The South, however, specifically Ho Chi Minh City, is more city-like, with malls, public fountains, parks, etc. Because of this cultural difference while still being united under one nation, I can understand how in a sense both sides are still divided.

How could you end this phenomenon and mend regional differences under one nation? I believe that if a nation shares similar values, then we can work together to achieve a common good. The values between East and West Germany are different in work and productivity. The dividing issue I've noticed was that East Germany's narrative always included the West side while West Germany hardly mentions the East side. To unify the sides amongst cultural differences is to create a narrative where both can view the other as an equal.

As for politics, I've researched quite a bit on the rise of the Alternative for Germany. I want to ask how do Germans view the AFD party? Do they see it as helping keep the borders of E.U closed as a safety measure or is the AFD seen as more aggressive and frowned upon, in the way Americans view ICE? I compare Chancellor Angela Merkel's leave of parliament similar to Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death. Chancellor Angela Merkel serves as a more liberal stance, advocating for immigration and refugees, in a similar RBG stood for LGBTQ rights and Women's rights. Merkel's replacement candidates right now are all male, so I believe. I think as a successor to Angela Merkel, Armin Laschet's policies and ideas ring similar to Merkel's and would mend ties with other countries.

TroutCowboy
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Unified yet Divided

Looking at and echoing what many others have said before me, It's interesting to see the divide between what we consider to be "modern day" and what we consider to be "history", and how that it's largely based on which events in history have happened throughout our own lifetimes. It's an interesting and different perspective to see how the reunification of Germany is still relatively recent, and that most Germans likely still remember when it happened. That having been said, it's also worth noting the separation that still remains after unification, such as differences in the local economies or political opinions. Germany may be whole again, but there is still an invisible wall dividing the east and west. The east-west divide is even still visible from space, as East and West Germany use different bulbs to light up their streets.

sleepypanda
Posts: 14

unification/politics

I’m going to be echoing many others in saying that I didn’t realize Germany's unification was 30 years ago. Also, I don’t know much about the political situation in Germany. I think it is unfortunate that there are some people feeling like they are second-class citizens, but I would say that might be something both our countries have. Considering it has only been 30 years since the reunification, it isn’t too surprising that there is still a divide between the east and west. President Steinmeier says “we are much further along than we think. For all the tasks that remain, there is so much that has been accomplished” in his speech, which suits the situation for both Germany and the US, as both are working on their problems, but there is still more that can be done. Both countries also have a divide in politics, and I’m curious whether that divide has affected Germany’s response to Covid-19, as it had in the US.

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