When Berlin was reunited in 1990 people were overjoyed. But the 2.2 million West Berliners and 1.3 million East Berliners soon began to realize the social and economic costs of what they called die Wende (“the change”). As a result there was often tension between the two groups.

East and West Berliners Under Communist rule, many East Berliners had guaranteed jobs and financial help from the government to pay their rent. After reunification, they lost these benefits. Unemployment quickly rose as changes to the East German economy caused businesses to close. The lower cost of housing caused many West Berliners to move east. This drove up prices and forced East Berliners out. As hard as these changes were and sometimes continue to be many homes, apartments, businesses, and entire neighborhoods have been renovated and improved.

Berliners soon discovered that reunification had disadvantages.

NEO-NAZISM Berlin’s economic difficulties in the 1990s and early 2000s led to the growth of neo-Nazism (new Nazism) in the city. In the 1990s many neo-Nazis were unemployed young men from eastern boroughs who dressed as skinheads (right). Since the 2000s, the look of neo-Nazi youth has become more mainstream. However, some members of such far-right groups continue to carry out violent attacks against immigrants and asylum seekers.


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