Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Germany will mark the 20th anniversary of its reunification on October 3 — but not everyone in Germany will be celebrating two decades together.
German unity has been a shaky marriage. That may seem like a surprise to people outside Germany. But opinion polls inside Germany show widespread discontent, especially in the formerly Communist east. Chancellor Angela Merkel has called it a success and other political leaders will be singing the praises of unification in their lofty speeches and German media interviews this weekend. But for many in the east, like straight-talking Brandenburg state premier Matthias Platzeck, German unification in 1990 was not a merger of equals but instead an “Anschluss” (annexation) with West Germany taking over East Germany.
Many easterners have endured change, hardship, upheaval and various negative developments – including sometimes being evicted from their houses that people who fled during the Cold War returned to reclaim. Free speech and freedom to travel have been great but the price has been high: millions lost their jobs, their homes as well as the fabric of their society and their way of life. Many are still struggling to come to terms with life in reunited Germany – and are understandably nostalgic about life in East Germany, to the great irritation of western Germans who have helped pay 1.6 trillion euros to rebuild the east.
Reasons for their disenchantment can be seen everywhere: The eastern population has shrunk by about 2 million, unemployment soared, young people are moving away in droves and what was one of the Eastern Bloc’s leading industrial nations is now largely devoid of industry. Did it all have to happen like that? Platzeck thinks not. There are no ghost towns in the east yet but some cities with dwindling populations have torn down thousands of flats on their outskirts and let the forests grow back around them.
from The Great Debate UK:
-John Reid, formerly the UK Defence Secretary and Home Secretary, is MP for Airdrie and Shotts, and Chairman of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College, London. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 1989, was one of history’s truly epochal moments. During what became a revolutionary wave sweeping across the former Eastern Bloc countries, the announcement by the then-East German Government that its citizens could visit West Germany set in train a series of events that led, ultimately, to the demise of the Soviet Union itself.
Twenty years on, what is most striking to me are the massive, enduring ramifications of the events of November 1989. Only several decades ago, the Cold War meant that the borders of the Eastern Bloc were largely inviolate; extremist religious groups and ethnic tensions were suppressed, there was no internet (at least as we know it today) and travel between East and West was difficult. The two great Glaciers of the Cold War produced a frozen hinterland characterised by immobility.
The Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago on Nov. 9, 1989. A team of Reuters correspondents and multimedia journalists from Berlin and London will be covering the major event in a completely new way — Berlin Wall 2.0. The team from The Berlin Project are joining forces with the Reuters text, pictures and TV correspondents in Berlin to present real-time coverage and impressions of everything going on in Germany’s reunited capital city.
You can also view the best of Reuters’ content on our Berlin Wall global coverage page, follow the team in Berlin on Facebook and get a behind the scenes look at Berlin 2.0 by visiting The Berlin Project. Please send us your thoughts and memories by commenting on the live blog below.
One of the primary aims of North Korea’s propaganda machine is to show its founder Kim Il-sung and current leader Kim Jong-il as all-knowing, parent-like (and at times god-like) figures who devote themselves entirely to bettering the lives of every citizen of the state.
Kim Il-sung, known as the “Great Leader” is also the eternal president of the state formed at the start of the Cold War. His son Kim Jong-il, who took over when his father died in 1994, is known as the “Dear Leader.”
Under Adolf Hitler, the Nazis tried to extinguish the culture and language of the Sorbs.
This week, a member of Germany’s indigenous Slavic minority won a state election for the first time. Stanislaw Tillich’s victory puts him firmly in control of Saxony, the most populous eastern state – and looks likely to catapult the 50-year-old to the front ranks of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).
from The Great Debate UK:
Will the party that traces its roots to Communist East Germany's SED party that built the Berlin Wall soon be in power in a west German state?
Or is the rise of the far-left "Linke" (Left party) in western Germany to the brink of its first role as a coalition partner in a state government with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) simply a political fact-of-life now so many years after the Wall fell and the two Germanys were reunited?
Photo:A compilation by Reuters of pool photographs and images provided by North Korea’s KCNA news agency showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from 2004 to 2009. The photograph in the lower right was released this week by KCNA
By Jon Herskovitz
The image the world once had of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, with a trademark paunch, platform shoes and a bouffant hair-do, is gone and may never come back. He has now become a gaunt figure with thinning hair who has trouble walking in normal shoes, let alone ones with heels 8-10 centimetres (3-4 inches) high like he used to wear.
Unlike millions of Poles who have flocked to Western Europe in the past few years in search of jobs, Jan Malachowski came to Norway in 1986 seeking political asylum and safety from Poland’s communist regime.
But like many of his compatriots, Malachowski will not celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poland’s June 4, 1989 election, which ushered in democracy in the Soviet Union’s backyard and helped pave the way for the collapse of the Berlin Wall five months later.
A debate about whether Communist East Germany was an “Unrechtsstaat” (“unjust state”) or merely not a “Rechtsstaat” (“state based on the rule of law”) has been dividing the German political class for months — and it now has spilled onto the front pages this week as the reunited country celebrates its 60th anniversary.
What might seem like a nuance of history has turned into a full-fledged battle that is splitting many eastern and western Germans once again along the fault lines of the long since dismantled Wall that separated them during the Cold War.