The East Side Gallery in October 2018. Photo: DPA

Merkel remembers: How life used to be in East Germany

Life in the Communist Democratic Republic of Germany was simple and sometimes “comfortable in a certain way.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the newspaper “Seudwiesch Zeitung” about the former East Germany where she grew up.

In an interview with the German daily ahead of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Angela Merkel said West Germany had a “somewhat stereotypical” idea of ​​the East.

She said many people “find it difficult to understand that there was a difference between the GDR as a state and the individual lives of its citizens.”

“I was asked whether I was happy in the GDR and whether I could laugh. Yes, I and many others attached great importance to being able to look at ourselves in the mirror every day, but we made concessions,” Merkel said.

“Many people did not want to escape every day or to be imprisoned. This feeling is difficult to describe.”

Angela Merkel

Merkel, born in Hamburg in 1954 moved with her family to East Germany as a child. Her father Horst Kasner was offered a job as a pastor there. Merkel grew up in Templin, a small town north of Berlin surrounded by stepped hills and picturesque lakes.

Although her father belonged to a wing of the Protestant church that worked with the political system, not against it, the Communist authorities viewed her family with suspicion because of his religious role.

Germany reunited a year after the fall of the Wall. Which divided it into East and West in Berlin for almost three decades. It was a symbol of the Cold War.

Speaking of how long it took the East German to adapt to reunification. Merkel told Seudiwisch Zeitung: “The efforts of freedom, to decide everything, should have been learned.”

“Life in the GDR was sometimes somehow comfortable, because there were things that one could not influence.”


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