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The inequality between East and West is still visible in issues such as migration and employment. “Christians need to get involved at all levels”, says Evi Rodemann of the Lausanne Movement Europe.
“It was undoubtedly an immense historical achievement, and due to those events, today we can affirm that we all thrive in a united Europe”, said the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on November 9, during one of the many events organized to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In contrast, it is also true that the far- right has grown in recent years, especially in the Eastern regions of Germany, to become a benchmark of ideology at the continental level.
The radical ideology has been backed by voters, who have led Alternative for Germany (AfD) to be the leader of the opposition in the Bundestag, and the second political force in regions such as Saxony, Brandenburg, Macklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia, all in the East of Germany.
MIGRATION AND “NEW WALLS”
“The rise of the far-right demonstrates a great discontent among all social classes. It seems that we have become more racist”, said Evi Rodemann, theologian and 'Cheerleader of the next generation' in the European Lausanne Movement.
According to Rodemann, “as a person of colour you have a much harder time in some Eastern parts, refugees are thrown in there too, but besides skin colour we also face the discrimination with social status, group belonging, voted party, etc”.
“November 9 reminds us that we must oppose hatred, racism and anti-Semitism”, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed during the celebrations of the three decades of German reunification.
The ideological movement against the government's migrant reception policy has also grown the most in the East, led by groups such as the aforementioned AfD and Pegida (European Patriots against Western Islamization), known for organizing demonstrations in Dresden and other cities.
“We need to examine why people wanting to set up new walls, what are their fears, where do they feel a lack of protection and what do they seek to achieve. Over the past 1,000 years, Europe has had borders moving from one side to the other. That is not a solution for the future”, Rodemann pointed out.
That is why “addressing these fears wisely and guiding people through changes all across Europe, is much needed. The same applies to the national level”, she added.
The Lausanne Movement leader also warned that “even some Christians are drawn to this political endeavour”, and recalled that “when the wall came down, none of us was prepared to integrate well”.
“Borders are an easy solution against an influx of migrants, but will not solve the problems at the heart of society. Politicians and society need to come up with creative ideas on how to deal with globalization, a multi-cultural society, methods of integration, so that we will not be ruled by fear”, she believes.
“WE NEED TO FACE INEQUALITY PROBLEMS”
In an article published in French magazine Le Monde Diplomatique, journalists Rachel Knaebel and Pierre Rimbert reported that industrial production in the former Democratic Republic of Germany, had fallen around 70% at the end of 1991. Early in 1992, the unemployment in the region reached 1.4 million people, compared to 7,500 unemployed in January 1990.
Rodemann explains that “the unemployment in the former GDR is still higher. Equality in wage has not been achieved. The East still earns less doing the same profession as in the West. And where there is less money, there is less to spend on developing cities, unemployment and crime rates rises”.
“We need to face the problems around equality in all situations and circumstances, no matter where people are from. It is so much easier to say that coming from the West myself, but so much harder for us if the impact would straight effect our purses. We like to be generous if it has no consequence for us personally”, she added.
“GERMANY IS FACING A GROWING POLARIZATION”
Germany is “facing a growing polarization in society. The division between rich and poor grows, as well as the loneliness in the cities, there is also a decline in our common value systems”, analyzes Rodemann.
“The nuclear families are being substituted by man-made systems which has tremendous effects on the children, the whole education sector, and the communities, including churches”, she underlines.
According to the German magazine ZeitOnline, 3.7 million people left the Eastern region of Germany to move to the Western side between 1991 and 2017.
During that same period of time, 2.45 million people made the reverse journey, returning to their homes or moving there for the first time. Despite the hodgepodge, the territorial division remains clear in the mindset of many Germans.
“CHRISTIANS NEED TO GET INVOLVED”
“For the young generation growing up in the Western part of Germany, the fall of the wall is just is just a historical event. But what happened 30 years ago has still a profound effect on the people who were part of the former GDR and for the ones receiving people in the west”.
Rodemann reminds us that “Christians were at the heart of the demonstrations in the times of the GDR. We are called to be salt and light, to live according to Biblical principles, which means often going counter cultural”.
“Closing our hearts and walls against the most needy and vulnerable is not how Christians are supposed to live. We need wisdom on how to incorporate the Christian values and human dignity into the system. Christians need to get involved on all levels of society”.