German Unification Case Study

Goals and Issues - Group A



Historical Background


Goals &




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Goals A

As is the case for other communist states throughout Eastern Europe, East Germany or the German Democratic Republic (GDR) faces massive social and military upheaval in the initial post-communist years. However, East Germany's process is unique in that the country loses its sovereign status and merges with the economic and political framework of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). The perspectives in which the unification is viewed range from unification as a hostile take-over to unification as the long overdue rectification of an historical tragedy.

In this part of the Web site, you are given the specific goals for you and your teammates.

As you are preparing for the discussion:

  1. think of how to present your arguments.
  2. anticipate the counter arguments to your position.
  3. envision the implication(s) of possible solutions.

Group A: Goals

I. Joint goals for your group:
  1. Find a mutually agreeable solution for the issue of abortion rights. Before unification, the laws on abortion differed in East and West Germany. In East Germany, women were able to abort legally without any restrictions within the first trimester (Fristenregelung). However, abortion in West Germany is illegal (Paragraph 218/219 StGB), but exceptions are granted to women who can prove medical or social/psychological hardship. Because of the protest from East German women, currently old laws on abortion are still in effect in the East, but a solution has to be found quickly.

  2. Come up with a unified front on the return of private property confiscated by the GDR. Thousands of people living both in the East and in the West were affected by the expropriation of the soviet military power after World War II, the land reform of 1945 and the loss of property through flight and expulsion from the GDR.

  3. Under the former communist regime, child care was guaranteed. Despite high women employment rates (see above), about 90 percent of all women in the former GDR had children and in 1989, 80 percent of children aged one to three were in day care. The West German system does not provide for child care, claiming that the costs for such a social service are prohibitive. Find a solution to the issue of state-sponsored, widely available child care.

  4. Pensions received in the former East Germany are lower in comparison to West German pensions since they are based on previously earned income. After unification, the East German pensions are converted to D-mark on a 1:1 scale which in monetary value (Kaufkraft) raises the pensions for most retirees initially. But as the cost of living increases and rents in certain areas rise to near West German levels, this creates grave disparity between the income of East and West German retirees. However, according to federal law, every citizen of the Federal Republic is entitled to the same level of welfare benefits regardless of which region they live in. Within the Western states, taxpayers in wealthy regions essentially subsidize the welfare benefits of those in poorer regions. Many East Germans ask why it should be any different with the East. Resolve the disparity between East and West German pensions.

II. General East-German goals:
  1. At the very least, maintain the standard of living and ultimately bring it up to the level of the West.

  2. Keep the social cost of unification (chiefly unemployment) manageable. This will require massive amounts of money to be transferred from public and private sources and invested in the East.

  3. Argue from the perspective of your character. Try to convey the special circumstances of your situation.

III. General West-German goals:
  1. Rebuild the East without endangering the high standard of living in the West.

  2. Keep the costs of unification manageable.

  3. Argue from the perspective of your character. Try to convey the special circumstances of your situation.

Click here to continue on to the issues your group will need to resolve.

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