When the Wall Came Down: Part 5

How is the reunification remembered in Germany? Here’s 5 terms to tell us more…

Der Mauerfall

“The fall of the Berlin Wall” sounds clumsy compared to Der Mauerfall, literally, the wall-fall. In Germany, there is only one thing you could be talking about – year zero of modern Germany.

Image: Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Die Wende

One of my earliest posts was about this word, which is used to talk about all the years around the Mauerfall, reunification, and everything that went into forming a new country. It’s not a simple topic, and recently was the title of a dark crime novel about 90s secrets and corruption.

Begrüßungsgeld

“Greeting money” – for years, East German refugees received money for arriving in the west to help them settle. In 1989, this was 100 DM. Of course they were inundated in November, and there are strong memories of long lines waiting for the money, and people remember spending it on Walkmans, Levis and Lego.

Volk

One of the rallying cries of reunification was “wir sind das Volk”, or “we are the people”. It meant unity, but in the years since it is sometimes co-opted by white nationalists to mean something else.

Ostalgie

This pun on “nostalgia” refers to people who miss parts of life in the GDR, things like food and brands, music and TV. Many Germans grew up in a different country, and the attempt to remember those origins without be accused of whitewashing the state’s actions is difficult. This word can be used derisively.

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