It is common on anniversaries to look back on history. With the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, though, Germany extensively assesses its current situation. How divided is Europe’s biggest economy?

“In the early euphoria following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Germany moved quickly to erase the scars of its Cold War division. But East Germany’s legacy remains visible in statistics,” writes Die Zeit in a compilation of statistical information, maps and graphics, showing that German unification left scars that aren’t yet to disappear.

In an editorial blog post related to the article, editor Fabian Moor writes that —

The border still exists. Nearly exactly where it existed in reality, Germany is still divided in two. Until today, 25 years after the end of the imposed separation, there is an important demographic and economic imbalance, and there are also very different lifestyle habits. […] Clothes dryers? They are popular in the west, but nearly inexistent in the east. Owning a weapon? Nothing of interest for an easterner.

In the old Eastern part of Germany, the available income per capita is still considerably less than in the old Federal Republic (FRG), and farms are considerably bigger in the old German Democratic Republic (GDR) than in the old West Germany. Die Zeit also notes that residents in Eastern Germany prefer other destinations for their holidays than residents of what formerly was the FRG —

Easterners also put their children in day care, and most get flu shots each year. The eastern population is older. Many children of reunification sought their fortunes in the west and simply stayed.

Still, the rationale of a divided Germany is more and more challenged. “I think east-west comparisons are superfluous,” writes editor Steffen Dobbert. “There is no wall anymore in Germany, or in the minds of the young generation,” he writes, adding, —

in a few years, the “ossi” [German pejorative for Easterner] will disappear – if the media let it. […] Most of the people consider themselves more as Germans than as Easterners or Westerners. I just ask myself: when will this reality penetrate the newsrooms of TV stations, radios, newspapers or websites?

The public television BR recently compiled a series of polls about eastern and western Germany. It appeared that —

75 per cent of the Easterners think of the reunification in a positive way; in the west, only half of the population sees more advantages than disadvantages in the reunification, according to a recent study by Infratest dimap. […] The good news: east-west-clichés are not hereditary. Two-thirds of the 14-to-29 demographic refuse their parents’ prejudices.

“In their desire to find the old Berlin Wall, my collegues of Zeit Online even searched for ‘Ronnies’,” Steffen Dobbert writes. Indeed, he recalls, as “Ronny was the most popular name for children between 1975 and 1983 in the GDR.” The proportion of “Ronny” Facebook pages is significantly higher in what formerly was East Germany —

I have a friend called Ronny. When I told him of the map, he said: “It’s logical, most Ronnies live today where they were born. But this doesn’t mean that the GDR still exists!” He then asked what must happen in order for us to celebrate an anniversary of the reunification without searching for Ronnies. “Maybe you and all other Ronnies should move to the west,” I said.

Die Zeit finally notes and asks:

One of the few places where the country’s Cold War division is still visible is the former inner German border. The watchtowers and walls are gone, but the dividing line is still there. Is that a bad thing? Do all the differences have to be plastered over, all the scars removed?

Germany still feels its history and lives up to its memory, and economic differences are still visible. But the Wall no longer exists. In Berlin, 8,000 white balloons retrace the path of the Wall and make it visible again as part of the official commemorations.