Can you still see the divide between East/West Germany?

Inspired by reading about the…shall we say, problematic idea of Korean reunification and the comparison with German reunification, the problem being that the North just lags so far behind the south it’s difficult to know where to even start.

Apart from the physical remnants left behind by the division between the GDR/FRG, is it still obvious today which parts of Germany were East and West? Does the East still have any ‘catching up’ to do or lingering problems caused by the division with the West?

For instance I’ve read that the East has more of a problem with neo-Nazis than the West, are there any other areas the split can still be seen?

I was curious so I went googling and found this Washington Post article:

The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, but Germany is still divided

You can tell which parts of Berlin were on which side by the color of the streetlights.

Many more interesting facts in the article.

Wow, thanks engineer_comp_geek, that’s exactly the sort of thing I was after, being able to see where the split was in the numbers. I’d no idea that you could still see it literally in Berlin beyond the remnants of the wall.

Very interesting that some of them run counter to assumptions, I’d have figured that vaccination rates would be higher in the west, nope.

Visited Berlin and Dresden in January. For the most part the former East Berlin and West Berlin are night and day. But there are exceptions. The area around the Westin Grand is very upscale now, but the hotel and that area were in the East. Dresden has lots of newer developments, but you could still see classic Soviet-bloc archetecture around the city.

Came back last week and I had a similar impression, though the city seemed to be doing a good job merging both sides.

I’m old enough that I should know the answer to this question, but ignorant enough to ask it: How did West Berlin work?

Unlike the only other divided capital city I know (and have visited both before and after the division) - Nicosia, Berlin didn’t straddle the border between the West and East divisions of the parent country.

West Berlin was deep inside East Germany. How did that work on a day to day basis? How did people travel between West Berlin and West Germany?

There were road and rail corridors that allowed access to WB from the rest of WG. When the Soviets cut off that access, the west responded with an airlift.

By road, by rail or by air.

There were regular trains from Berlin to various cities in West Germany; they passed through East Germany without serving any stations.

You could drive along specified “transit routes”. You needed to get a transit visa, but that wasn’t difficult or expensive. You weren’t supposed to depart from the transit routes although, in practice, you could. But there were border inspections at each end, so if you made more than a short detour they would notice that you had spend longer making the journey than was plausible. The transit routes were on roads also used by East German domestic traffic. If you didn’t have a car, there were coach services that used the transit routes.

You could fly. Lufthansa wasn’t permitted to serve routes between West Berlin and cities in West Germany, but UK, US and French airlines could and did. The West German government subsidised the fares.

There was also canal transport available, but that was only for heavy goods. There were no passenger services.

As detente developed, East Germany was also persuaded to be more generous with permits to allow West Germans and West Berliners into the east. It was a convenient way to get hard currency into the country (since you had to exchange 25DM per day into East German currency at 1:1, and couldn’t re-export whatever you had left over), and allowed those people with western relatives to get some western consumer goods.

Berlin was divided, but West Berlin wasn’t a capital. It had a weird and ambiguous legal status and arguably wasn’t even part of West Germany.

True, but that’s sort of chicken-and-egg - its status as capital was constrained by the politics/geography.

Not quite on topic, but I love sharing this story: I had the good fortune of visiting East Germany just 3 days after Einheit (unification). Although the physical differences were striking between East and West, we were astounded at how quickly the folks in the East dropped the trappings of that country. Eager for souvenirs, a friend of mine and I asked the hotel desk clerk if she could change some dollars into East German currency. She looked at us wryly and quickly said: DDR ist nicht mehr. Neither my buddy nor I had studied German, but we just smiled, as we understood her perfectly.

Checkpoint Charlie was the famous crossing in between East and West Berlin in the middle of the city. Less famous were Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo. They were the checkpoints on either end of the Autobahn between West Germany and West Berlin.

I was stationed in Germany when the Wall fell and during Unification. The only time I visited while stationed there was to go to see Roger Waters perform The Wall. This was after Berlin was unified but officially Germany was still divided. The borders were open to German civilians but military still had to go through Alpha and Bravo. The Wall was mostly down but we were able to find an area and I chiseled off a piece. There was a no man’s land full of abandoned buildings with WWII scars. All of East Berlin was grey and depressing.

I went back to Germany for training in 2000. I spent a day in Berlin. The area around the border was completely new and full of stores that belonged on 5th Ave or the Champs-Elysees. I don’t know if it was this way throughout the city but there was a brass line in the pavement that showed where the Wall once stood.

I got curious once and took a random exit just to see what was out there. Around the bend off the exit there was a military road block. Armed soldier said “Your visa says Berlin. You go that way.” as he pointed his rifle back toward the way I had come.

Just came back from a 3 day visit to Berlin. At Checkpoint Charlie; there’s a McDonald’s just on the US side. Must have been hell on the East German guards to have look at all day.:wink:

Still a difference between sides. Soviet bland uniformity in office and housing though there was lots of construction/face-lifting being done. The lower floor shops were all western style.

This is dredging up memories of my trip there in the mid 1980s.

On the drive in, the gas station / store was wall to wall and ceiling to floor with stuff like Charmin toilet paper and Crest toothpaste which could only be purchased with non-German currency.

West Berlin was much like Manhattan; crowds, stores, traffic. In East Berlin there were still many bombed out buildings from the war. People on the street would look down and scuttle away if you made eye contact – except for one guy trying to exchange money. Traffic was almost nonexistent; a lone car driving down empty four or six lane streets once every few minutes.

There were no stores open; I recall one closed appliance store that had an old style refrigerator with the compressor on top … it appeared to be the only thing in the store.

There were several soviet style high-rise apartment buildings in which it was apparent very few people actually lived.

We were aware that the money we had to exchange to enter could not be taken back out of the country so we decided to eat. The only place open was a cafeteria. Food was served on old fashioned stainless steel trays like we had in elementary school. The food was absolutely wonderful; boiled beef and onion, parsley buttered potatoes, red cabbage, white bread, butter, and milk. I say to this day it was, overall, the best meal I have ever eaten. It cost about 70 cents at the rip-off exchange rate.

Went to a museum and bought a small wood cut print to get rid of most of the rest of the money; the remainder went into a big glass jar at the check point when we left.

Drove back to Amsterdam without incident but got very thoroughly searched entering England when customs spotted the entry stamps for East Germany.

I spent a few days in Berlin last year before driving down to Munich. To be perfectly honest, I never was really sure when I was in former West Berlin or East Berlin. I guess I didn’t notice the street lights.

However, during the days after I left Berlin I really noticed a language issue. In the former East it was not uncommon to come across people who didn’t understand a word of English (on a previous trip I was told that was because the second language taught in East Germany was Russian instead of English). Even at tourist spots the staff had very little English. Very few museum signs in English either - although at one museum signs were in German and Czech. Once we crossed into the former West English was widespread again…

Do any of the “facade buildings” survive in former East Germany?

My understanding was that whole blocks left in ruins by the war were simply walled in with faux building facades, and that some great number of these Potemkin office blocks still existed at the time the wall came down. Are there any now?

What were they worried about you bringing from East Germany to England?

Communism.