After the wall
Abandoned cities, factories and broken lives… 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany never managed to overcome the consequences of the economic crisis. Scores of factories located on the socialist part of the country are still remaining abandoned. Oleksandr Makhov is reporting from the economic center of East Germany, Karl-Marx-Stadt, which later turned into a depressive city of Chemnitz. Olha arrived in the socialist Germany from the soviet Ukraine late in the 1980s. Then she chose a strong industrial city of Chemnitz. Here she wanted to find the post of a technologist at a locate textile factory. I was a engineer-technologist and had five-year experience. So I hoped to find the position of a technologist or a foreman at one of the factories. However, the hope did not come true. The Berlin Wall fell and Germany united. As a result, the enterprises located in the eastern part of the country appeared to be uncompetitive. Factories were closed one after another. There was a huge wave of cheap goods from China and Vietnam and Taiwan. A lot of East Germany’s engineers were got the key of the street, it was impossible to find any job. Since 1990, Chemnitz has been left by every 5th resident. In the mid-2000s, the world’s lowest birth-rate was registered there. The people left it looking for better life, as almost all local enterprise were closed. These are the remainders of a plant in Chemnitz. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of the country, the production was ceased and moved, so the buildings remain empty. Tens of enterprises in East Germany faced the same fate. A car plant suffered the most. Trabant – the most popular vehicle of the socialist Germany was produced here. It was something like Ukrainian Zaporozhets, however, even cheaper. Karl Clauss Dietel had worked at the Trabant plant for 20 years. He designed six different models of that vehicle. Trabant had to become affordable for everyone. The Trabant’s idea was to become a people’s car for the whole country. It had to be simple and reliable and affordable for the working class. Simplicity and efficiency of Trabant doomed itself and its designers. After the fall of the Wall, the car failed to compete in the market. It’s a pity that it happened that way. We designed it and tried to do the best for our state. However, we understood that we had neither the facilities nor the funds to design better cars. We were doomed. Despite the fact that the crisis was fought in East Germany and the level of salaries there was equalized with that throughout the country, the big business never returned there. The Government confess: the gap between the eastern and western parts of the country is huge. The economy of East Germany over the last 30 years has grown significantly; however, it will never reach the one of the West Germany. They lost 40 years while they were building socialism. Thus, when their economic indicators reach ours, we will still be 40 years ahead. 30 years since the Wall, Olha has not found a job in her degree. I tried to find any job and found it in commerce, at a supermarket. I still work there. Designer Karl Clauss has changed his Trabant for a car made in France. He considers its rounded shape ideal.
This is the best choice and ideal car, I believe. Once, this city was the economic center of East Germany. Chemnitz today is known only for a strange monument in the downtown. In the times of the socialist Germany, Chemnitz bore the name of Karl-Marx-Stadt. Then, they even erected a 13-meter head of Karl Marx here. It is the second largest head in the world after the head of Lenin in Ulan-Ude. The locals give this monument sarcastic names. Noteworthy is the fact that Karl Marx himself had nothing to do with Chemnitz. He never even visited it. The most important is the fact that people never return to the east of the country. Score of plants around the city remain empty. Oleksandr Makhov, Kostiantyn Tsarenok. Segodnya, TV Channel Ukraine.