Comrade Couture: Revisiting Communist Germany's Fashion SceneT wenty years after unification, Angela East german clothing prefers dishes that east german clothing typical in the German Democratic Republic GDRsuch as a hot stew with pickled vegetables and meat called solyanka. That is what she told the weekly magazine SuperIlluthe voice of east German nostalgia. Having grown clothinh in East Germany myself, the statement made me smile. Twenty years after unification Merkel dares to say she likes solyanka — wow, what an achievement. The funny thing is that it is indeed brave for a super-cautious woman such as Merkel to reveal her taste for solyanka.
East Germans are still different | Sabine Rennefanz | Opinion | The Guardian
T wenty years after unification, Angela Merkel prefers dishes that were typical in the German Democratic Republic GDR , such as a hot stew with pickled vegetables and meat called solyanka. That is what she told the weekly magazine SuperIllu , the voice of east German nostalgia. Having grown up in East Germany myself, the statement made me smile. Twenty years after unification Merkel dares to say she likes solyanka — wow, what an achievement.
The funny thing is that it is indeed brave for a super-cautious woman such as Merkel to reveal her taste for solyanka. It reflects the difficult process of unification and shows that the perception of east Germans has changed.
In the first years of her position as chancellor of the united Germany she hardly spoke about the first 35 years of her life, which she spent as a physicist in the GDR. She pretended to come from nowhere at all. She probably felt it was safer to blend in with the majority, the west Germans. It's an attitude I can relate to. I was 15 when the wall came down. After finishing school, I lived in Hamburg for many years.
Among the students at university or later at work in a big publishing house I was the only one from the east. I did not talk about my past often, because I did not want to be treated like an exotic bird. I hated the term Ossi for East German and still refuse to use it. When people at some point found out where I grew up the reaction was always the same.
It was very easy to surprise a Wessi then. On the superficial level, the differences between east and west are not so visible anymore.
East Germans now dress as poorly as west Germans in weatherproof jackets and comfy flat shoes. All women over 50 seem to dye their hair red. But beyond that, huge differences remain. Merkel grew up in the east but her cabinet consists of west Germans.
None of the 30 leading companies listed in the German share index have an east German boss. The same is true for the media. The editors-in-chief of big newspapers all hail from the west. After the wall came down many people lacked qualifications, others were sacked because of their links with the communist party and the Stasi.
But now it's 20 years later. Sociologists point out that German society is rigid and the elite usually only promote people who have the same upbringing and the same experiences — who are usually white, male, west German and middle-class. Maybe we also have to blame ourselves. Many of us avoided taking responsibility after having lived through the collapse of one society.
But there is a growing confidence among east Germans, especially among the younger generation, that they can make peace with the past without being nostalgic. We were no heroes, no dissidents. We have a more relaxed view of the GDR. We know the difference between the political system and our private experience and don't feel insulted if the GDR is called an Unrechtsstaat dictatorship. We know our past, but the majority of our life has been spent in the unified Germany.
We might be generally poorer and therefore believe more in social justice and the welfare state, because our parents did not have the advantage of saving the amounts of money that the children of the booming West German economy had.
We might be a little bit more direct and we are willing to make an impact. Even if we don't like solyanka. East German atheism can be seen as a form of continuing political and regional identification — and a taste of the future. The Berlin museum is a fascinating, if slightly contradictory, look back at life in the German Democratic Republic, capturing the ambiguities of the former communist state. Angela Merkel Europe comment. Order by newest oldest recommendations.
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