Two-thirds of Germans see persistent east-west divisions: Poll

BERLIN (Reuters) - Twenty-seven years after German reunification, nearly two-thirds of Germans still see persistent divisions between those in the former communist East and the West, a sort of "Berlin Wall in the head", a new poll for Bild newspaper showed on Monday (Oct 2).

Conducted by pollster INSA, the survey showed 64.6 per cent of those polled believed Germans saw such divisions, compared to 22.9 per cent who felt they had been overcome.

The poll - released a day before Germany's reunification holiday - showed that 74 per cent of Germans in the former East saw the "invisible barrier", compared to just 62.3 per cent of those who lived in the former West Germany.

The lingering divisions became evident in the German national election on Sept 24, in which voters dealt mainstream political parties their biggest defeats in the post-war era, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won 12.6 per cent of the vote and moved into parliament for the first time.

Support for the AfD and its "take your country back"platform was particularly strong in eastern Germany, fuelled by anger about Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open the doors to a million mostly Muslim migrants in 2015.

Malu Dreyer, the Social Democratic premier of the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said the election results were a "wake-up call" for the big political parties about the continuing unmet needs and concerns of east Germans.

"We under-estimated how much transformation pressure the east Germans had, and how much they had to accomplish to make reunification a reality," she told broadcaster Bayrischer Rundfunk on Monday.

"Reunification didn't impact the daily lives of most West Germans."

Dreyer said it was imperative to address lingering imbalances between east and west Germans, including continuing work to harmonise pensions.

Separately, Research Minister Johanna Wanka announced a new project on Monday to examine how many Nazis were able to continue working in East Germany's education and research institutions after World War II. She said the research was needed to augment extensive analysis carried out on the issue in the former West Germany.