On anniversary, Germans look to a broader unity
Ten hard years after reunificaiton, an eastern city pins hopes on EU expansion.
Germans are marking the 10th anniversary of their country's reunification today with an official ceremony in the eastern city of Dresden and a large celebration in Berlin.
Former chancellor Helmut Kohl, disgraced by a slush fund scandal, declined to attend festivities after he wasn't invited to speak. A decade after the unprecedented fusion of the communist East and capitalist West, German politicians are arguing over who should take the credit.
But with the promises and pitfalls of Europe's tortuous integration made tangible here like nowhere else, to many Germans, the debate almost seems irrelevant. Nowhere is this more evident than in Eisenhttenstadt, an archetypical East German city that is staking its hopes on the next steps beyond German unification, to a more unified Europe.
If it had been up to the citizens of Eisenhttenstadt, it's possible that the dramatic November 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, which set the course for reunification less than a year later, would never have happened.
Known as Stalinstadt before it was renamed "Iron Works City," Eisenhttenstadt owes its very existence to the country's division after World War II.
With steel production concentrated in capitalist West Germany, the Communist leadership decreed the construction of six blast furnaces in a pine forest on the Polish border. It was conceived as the model socialist city.
"The model failed," says Mayor Rainer Werner. "Everything was in a desolate condition" at the time of unification. Today, the sprawling metallurgical plant still dominates the city, but three-fourths of the steel mill's 12,000 workers have been laid off since reunification.