The adage ‘the past is a foreign country’* seems particularly apt for the 40-year-old GDR, which can now only be visited in the history books. More than two decades after East Germany vanished from the atlas, the expanded Federal Republic is still grappling with its legacy. Almost totally discredited in 1990, the GDR has undergone something of a popular rehabilitation since then, at least among its former inhabitants. The neologism ‘Ostalgie’ (‘nostalgia for the East’) was coined to describe this phenomenon. According to one survey in 2009, more than half of east Germans thought the GDR ‘was not a bad country’. Forty-nine per cent agreed that it had ‘more good sides than bad’; a further eight per cent thought ‘that people lived better and more happily in the GDR than today’ . Many miss the country’s welfare provisions. But there is also affection for its material culture [191: 226]. While nostalgia for the Third Reich faded as the West German economy boomed, memories of the GDR have followed the opposite trajectory.
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- Conclusion: Obituary
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