Kipling’s saying about the “East is East and West is West; and never the twain shall meet” was written about Europe/England and Asia/India. The same can be said about East and West Germany.
Today is a holiday in Germany: Day of German Unity (Tag der deutschen Einheit, for those of you like me that did not learn grammar in American elementary school, the n being added to the adjective because this is dative).
German unity works—sort of—because of money. A recent survey indicates that people in the East are happier about the reunification than people in the West. The reason is simple: taxpayers in the West have been paying since 1989 to help the East make up for 50 years of communist neglect. Areas of the former Soviet occupation zone are getting new infrastructure, while the costs for maintenance and new development are cut in the West to help pay to gloss over the cracks. As one might expect, there is resentment. It’s like the poor relative that comes to visit and then overstays his or her welcome and thinks that he or she deserves equal treatment as the kids. When it costs money, then attitudes change.
German unification worked only because the German economy was strong enough to swallow the costs and politicians sold taxpayers a guilt-trip. One must merely compare life in East Germany’s former allies in the communist Bloc, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia (now two countries), etc.
Now, the media is full of Germany’s largesse at taking on the burden of another unwanted, distant relative: Greece. At some point, when more countries show up at the trough, the golden goose is going to do more than squeal.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.