Germany’s 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall: how does the joint culture and economic look like?
9. November 1989, one of the most important historical dates in German history. After having been divided into East and West Germany for 28 years since 13. August 1961 a peaceful revolution forced the GDR politicians to open the boarders to West Germany. East German citizens who were willing to leave Germany could leave via all border crossings to the Federal Republic. About 20,000 people passed within the first hour, joy drunk, the opened border crossing point and storm over the Bösebrücke from East to West Berlin. When the Wall fell, 100,000 people gathered for the Brandenburg Gate’s official opening on 22 December 1989 and soon afterwards, crowds thronged the area to celebrate their first joint New Year’s Eve in this once-divided city. 9th November 1989 generated a feeling of euphoria in which the border posts disappeared.
The whole Germany and especially Berlin as German’s capital is celebrating reunification and democracy on 9th of November this year! Why not joining one of the numerous events taking place, getting a feeling for the Germans historical heritage, the culture and about what Germany has achieved already and where development could be speed up? In addition to the national and international celebrations, exhibitions and events that take place throughout the year and beyond, the grand finale is the festival to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from 4th to 10th November 2019. Berlin will be transformed into a unique open-air exhibition and event venue. The Brandenburg Gate will be in the focus again!
Find out more here.
How does the German culture and economic situation look like after 30 years of reunification?
What is left from the euphoric spirit that has been in the air in 1989? Well, although a lot, and I mean really a lot has happened and has been developed during the last 30 years here are a few sobering differences between the East and the West that still catch attention:
The population in the East, in particular the number of the workforce, continues to decline. Aging is progressing faster than in West Germany.
The East German cities and universities attract above all young and well-qualified people, many of whom previously lived in rural areas. Emigration to the cities leads to a further thinning of rural and especially peripheral regions.
The wages actually paid in the East, even 28 years after the end of the state separation, are only 82 percent of the West’s level.
Unemployment rate in 2018 in the East 7,6% and 5,3% in the West.
Dominance of West German elites in almost all areas of society. East German executives are still extremely underrepresented in companies, universities or the media.
In the East German federal states, for example, there are fewer research and innovation activities as well as a less strong internationalization. There is a significantly lower export orientation of the East German economy.
Moreover, East Germany is, above all, strong in the exploration of key technologies. Almost half of all employees in East Germany are women. The compatibility of family and work is much easier in the East.
The result of a study commissioned by Federal Government brings the reunification onto one point: significant East-West differences continue, extensive work has still to be done and the feared upcoming economic regression is – at least partly – based on the differences between East and West.
How do the differences between East and West have an influence on Finnish companies with the aim to expand their business to the German market?
It’s recommended to be aware of economic and cultural differences between the East and the West. Patience and persistence are basic requirements for being successful on the huge German market. German cultural and knowledge of German language might open doors. Contacting potential partners or clients in the East might confront you still that English as business language isn’t enough. In GDR times and many years after the reunification, Russian was the first foreign language at school. In general, one region of Germany might be easier to start with than another.
Germany is one of the main destination countries for Finnish investment. Approximately 440 Finnish companies have invested in Germany in 2018. One of the main business areas has been the paper industry but especially during the last years high tech technology, Artificial Intelligence, the food industry, environmentally friendly products and education systems have awoken growing interest.
If you are interested in finding out more about your company’s opportunities and to evaluate niches for your product or service on the German market, I would be glad to help you.
Germany’s challenges could be your opportunities!