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German children: What do they know about the Berlin Wall?

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Study: Kids have rosy view of east

Last year, a study stunned Germans by revealing not only how little youths know of the GDR, but how many still view it as a cozy, socially just society. Two decades after unification, children's views of their country's second dictatorship still hinges on whether they grew up in the east or in the west.

"We still have a country that's divided into two," says Monika Deutz-Schroeder, co-author of "Social Paradise or Stasi State? The GDR seen by schoolchildren – an East-West comparison."

Conducted with 5,219 schoolchildren in Berlin, Brandenburg, Bavaria, and North Rhine Westphalia, Ms. Deutz-Schroeder's survey showed the disparities: Only 57 percent of young people from East Germany approved of the Federal Republic's political system as opposed to 83 percent from West Germany.

Worrisome to many, for example, was that 66 percent of the 16- and 17-year-olds in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia didn't consider the GDR a dictatorship; fewer than two-thirds of East German pupils thought the economic system worked better in the west than in the GDR. [Editor's note: Original did not include the state.]

The findings acted as a catalyst for change, setting up a small revolution that culminated with hundreds of school projects like the one Marlene and Tobias were involved in.

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