On our free day, we had the opportunity to go to the Berlin Wall (or at least what is left of it). We were able to meet with a woman named Catia who lived in East Berlin while the wall was still standing.
The Berlin Wall stood as a divider between Soviet controlled East Berlin and West Berlin, which was split between France, Britain and the United States. The East became a communist country and the West remained a free democracy. Many families were torn apart and some believe that East Berlin fell behind due to this separation. They believe that their education, job prospects, and salaries are now lacking in comparison to the West.
Catia, our insider tour guide, was able to give us a unique perspective on the dynamics between the East and West during their separation by the Wall and after the Wall came down. Catia was born and raised on the East Side of the wall, and was fortunate to have all of her family in East Berlin, so she was never separated from any family members. When asked, she said her family rarely talked about the wall and almost never talked about the West. She was unaware of what was happening in the West, so she never thought much about the separation.
Catia was thirteen when the wall fell. She told me how the East Germans still hold a grudge about their misfortunes during the time of communist control. While she personally does not share these issues, she knows many who feel like this. Many East Germans, including East Berliners, feel as though they have not been able to integrate back into German society because of their difference in schooling, job prospects, and salaries.
This is a common narrative amongst East Germans, and they feel left out as the government is spending a lot of money to help integrate refugees as opposed to them. Some of them feel cheated and neglected by their society and government. Additionally, some are apprehensive that the refugees will be unable to integrate into society. They say this because it's been thirty years since the wall fell, but this group of people who have always called themselves German are still unable to be fully integrated.
Catia's perspective on this issue as an East German helps illuminate the reason why much of the anti-immigrant sentiment comes from former East Germany.