Thursday, June 08, 2023

The Privatisation of East Germany

After the reunification of Germany in 1990 the German Democratic Republic established an agency in order to privatise East German enterprises. The Treuhandanstalt (Trust Institution) was tasked with overseeing the sale of over 8,500 state-owned companies.

Under communism nearly half of all East Germans worked for the state or for state-run companies. Privatising all East German enterprises would obviously have huge consequences not only for the enterprises themselves but for the whole population of the former East Germany. 

The Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship is tasked by the German government to help assess the history of the German Democratic Republic and its impact on the now reunified Germany. Die Treuhand und die Folgen is an interactive created by the foundation which tells the story of the Trust Institution and the consequences of the rapid privatisation of East German enterprises on those enterprises and their employees.

An interactive map plays a large role in Die Treuhand und die Folgen. The map shows the locations of GDR enterprises pre-reunification. If you click on a company's marker on the map you can view the number of people it employed in 1990, and its current status. 

According to the foundation some of the consequences of the Treuhandstalt were "Mass unemployment, insecurity and a lack of prospects (for) several generations". The foundation claims that many East Germans view the mass privatisation of East German enterprises as a 'negative' experience which was badly managed by West Germany. 

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