7 July 2009

'The people of the east have turned into nomads'

The New York Times has a report from Hoyerswerda, in eastern Germany, where the population has dropped below 40,000 people from more than 70,000 in 1989. The city government is tearing down apartment buildings to try to keep up with the plunge in population. In a city that once had 21,000 apartments, 7,500 have been torn down and 2,000 more are scheduled for demolition, the newspaper reports. The report adds:
And the population decline is about to get much worse, as a result of a demographic time bomb known by the innocuous-sounding name “the kink,” which followed the end of Communism. The birth rate collapsed in the former East Germany in those early, uncertain years so completely that the drop is comparable only to times of war, according to Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development. “For a number of years East Germans just stopped having children,” Dr. Klingholz said.

Andrea Zirzow, 46, remembers the seeing the block of flats built that she lived in with her children, “I was happy when we moved into the newest buildings in the city, as though we’d won the lottery.” Now, Zirzow and her husband live outside of town. Her son Felix, 22, followed his sister to Karlsruhe, where he works for Siemens. She said, “The people of the east have turned into nomads.”


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