There are now thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German unification. A whole generation has since then grown up in Germany, who knows the period of division only from history books. The subject of German division should be over and done with by now – should it not? The current developments in Germany would indicate otherwise. Among these developments, the success of the party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in state elections has reminded us that significant differences persist between Eastern and Western Germany. This current finding is only an outward manifestation, however, of the dissatisfaction with the process of unification that still persists on the part of many East Germans. For a long time, little was heard on the topic in the public sphere, but it is still current and must be addressed publicly lest further potential social conflicts develop from it.
The thesis of the present article is that the current differences between East and West Germans1 can no longer be explained merely by differences in socialization before 1989, but are also the manifestation of a West German culture of dominance arising in the course of the German unification and the ensuing process of transformation. This culture of dominance is based, as we will show in detail in the following, on a combination of economic, political and cultural dimensions. To examine this complex, I will draw on Rommelspacher’s (1995) concept of dominance culture.