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The Reestablishment of the Länder (April 19, 1990)

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Other thoughts go even further. They reflect on whether it might not be better to organize the GDR into three or only two Länder. If one considers that the GDR as a whole is equal in size to North Rhine-Westphalia, this idea has much to recommend it. A large southern state, formed by Saxony and Thuringia, would have a counterpart in a northern state – either with or without Mecklenburg, which, because of its pronounced historical and regional peculiarities, has a special role in all discussions of restructuring. That such a radical solution by no means represents merely a drawing board-creation of the technocratic mind, but has its historical, political, and cultural corollaries, is made clear by the proposal from Karlheinz Blaschke, a Dresden historian who specializes in regional history [ . . . ].

A special problem arises from the role of Berlin. Should the city, whether as the German capital or not, form a separate federal state – as West Berlin does now within the context of the federal states of the Federal Republic – or should a state of Berlin-Brandenburg be established? The latter has mostly practical reasons going for it. A state of Berlin-Brandenburg would make it possible to get some kind of a handle, in terms of planning, on the problems that will emerge from what is expected to be a large “intertwined region” surrounding Berlin and stretching all the way to Brandenburg and Frankfurt/Oder. Moreover, Berlin would avoid the fate of a city-state like Hamburg. For a long time, the Hanseatic city has been complaining vociferously, and for good reason, that it’s losing more and more industry – and thus tax revenue – to the surrounding area, without being compensated for the cultural and social services it provides to that area. On the other hand, West Berliners – according to FDP Bundestag representative Lüder – are afraid that in such a federal state they’d be “demoted to a Brandenburg commune;” whereas the western half of the city is now federal land. This argument, however, is presumably outweighed by the fear of having to use their own tax revenue to help not only East Berlin, but also scenic but economically poor Brandenburg get on its feet.

* In 1996 a public referendum regarding a fusion of Berlin and Brandenburg failed due to the negative vote in Brandenburg – eds.

Source: Hermann Rudolph, “Auf den Grundmauern der Nachkriegszeit” [“On the Foundations of the Postwar Period”], Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 19, 1990.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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