The majority of east 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 fall 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% of easterners believe westerners are “arrogant”, 57% see westerners as interested primarily in money, and 45% 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 yesterday. “By contrast, the self-perception of east Germans is overwhelmingly positive.”
The survey showed there are still strong perceptions of separate identities between east and west Germans more than two decades after the end of the Cold War that led to German unification on Oct 3, 1990.
The survey, commissioned by east German universities, found that 69% of easterners call themselves “modest“, 63% see themselves as “reserved” and 58% call themselves “inventive”.
The report found that 51% of westerners believe their east German brethren are “discontented”, 42% “distrustful” while only 12% labelled easterners as “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 2m 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 helped pay nearly €2 trillion to rebuild the east.