Have the two for­mer­ly sep­a­rate parts of Ger­many ful­ly con­verged? Or are “new, deep cracks” appear­ing between East Ger­mans and West Ger­mans? Thir­ty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, this report draws on a nation­wide rep­re­sen­ta­tive sur­vey car­ried out as part of our project ‘Voic­es on Val­ues’ to take stock of exist­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences between East and West Ger­mans.

The research shows that respon­dents who cur­rent­ly live in the east are on aver­age more scep­ti­cal towards immi­grants. These dif­fer­ences, how­ev­er, are not nec­es­sar­i­ly signs of “new, deep cracks” between peo­ple in east­ern and west­ern Ger­many. The study shows that there are at least as many dif­fer­ent ideas of a good soci­ety among peo­ple in east­ern Ger­many as there are in the rest of the coun­try. There is no such thing as a typ­i­cal “Ossi” (short for East Ger­man), just as there is no typ­i­cal “Wes­si” (West Ger­man). Instead, dif­fer­ences in atti­tudes between peo­ple in east­ern and west­ern Ger­many are first and fore­most asso­ci­at­ed with demo­graph­ic fac­tors and people’s dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences of reuni­fi­ca­tion.

These find­ings sug­gest that vary­ing atti­tudes to migra­tion and an open soci­ety are a sign of the remain­ing dif­fer­ences between peo­ple in east­ern and west­ern Ger­many rather than evi­dence for “new, deep cracks”. To acknowl­edge that peo­ple in east­ern Ger­many have expe­ri­enced reuni­fi­ca­tion dif­fer­ent­ly, and to recog­nise, in par­tic­u­lar, the het­ero­gene­ity of these expe­ri­ences, might well be the most impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to Ger­man uni­ty 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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