Germans still divided two decades after unification -survey

BERLIN Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:58pm IST

People look through a crack of at a concrete barrier that is part of the former Berlin Wall border fortification at the memorial site in Bernauer Strasse in Berlin November 9, 2012. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz/Files

People look through a crack of at a concrete barrier that is part of the former Berlin Wall border fortification at the memorial site in Bernauer Strasse in Berlin November 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz/Files

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BERLIN (Reuters) - The majority of eastern Germans regard their western compatriots as "arrogant" and mostly interested in money, according to a new survey that highlights distinct east-west identities.

More than 22 years after the reunification of Germany following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a major study by the Allensbach Institute showed that easterners held strongly negative views of westerners but high opinions of themselves.

The study found that 71 percent of easterners believe westerners are "arrogant", 57 percent see westerners as interested primarily in money, and 45 percent believe westerners are "shallow".

"East Germans have practically only negative views of west Germans," wrote Welt am Sonntag newspaper, which published excerpts of the Allensbach study on Sunday. "By contrast, the self-perception of east Germans is overwhelmingly positive."

The survey showed there are still strong perceptions of separate identities between east Germans and west Germans more than two decades after the end of the Cold War that led to German unification on October 3, 1990.

The survey commissioned by east German universities found that 69 percent of easterners call themselves "modest", 63 percent see themselves as "reserved", 58 percent call themselves "inventive".

The report found that 51 percent of westerners believe their east German brethren are "discontented", 42 percent "distrustful" while only 12 percent labelled easterners "arrogant".

Many easterners have endured hardship and upheaval. Millions lost their jobs, their homes as well as the fabric of their society and their way of life. Nearly 2 million easterners moved west in search of jobs.

Many are still struggling to come to terms with life in reunited Germany and are nostalgic about life in East Germany, to the irritation of many western Germans who have helped pay nearly 2 trillion euros to rebuild the east.

(Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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