maandag 9 november 2009


Translation from my Dutch blog 'Op de helft', 9-11-2009

When I lived in Bonn from 1994 to 1996, it was often discussed how long the process of German unification would take. After five years of solidarity surcharge, the extra tax to pay for the annexation of East Germany, the Ossies had to learn to stand on their own two feet. I personally thought that the 'repair' of the broken Europe should cost something, also for the Netherlands. That unification is worth a lot. Incidentally, I did not know at the time that the West German money tap had been open years earlier and that Bonn's influence on developments in the East had already started long before the Fall of the Wall.

What struck me was that the West Germans expected all the changes from the East Germans. After all, the Ossies were lagging behind and still had to learn to live as a Westerner, first learn to work for their money. As a result, the Wessies failed to notice that their own world was also changing. The hard hand of Thatcher or the 'soft hand' of the Wassenaar agreement of prime minister Ruud Lubbers and union leader Wim Kok, seemed to have completely passed by Germany. The fixation on the others who needed to change allowed chancellor Helmut Kohl to push reforms ahead of him for years.

In conversations about how long it would take for Germany to reunite, I used to answer resolutely: “forty years”. Of course, I could easily say just anything, because how can you measure unification and how can you predict something like that? I simply got the answer from the Bible. After their deliverance from Egypt, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years. The people grumbled and wanted to return to the certainty of the past, they did not dare to enter the new land. The generation that experienced the liberation would not see the promised land. That was given to their children.

The German separation had lasted forty years, the unification would, in my opinion, take the same time. The movement that brings about liberation can never fully reap the benefits itself. It takes a generation, “forty years”. We are now half way.

Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten