The reunification of East and West Germany in the year 1990 signalled the start of a new chapter in the history of the German nation. This reunification took place in a legal sense through the accession of the previous German Democratic Republic (GDR) to the Federal Republic of Germany with its legal and democratic system and its membership in the European Union (EU) and in the military organisation of the NATO. In the short term sense in the economic and social sectors, this lead to an historically unprecedented process of transformation from the forty years of socialist planned economy to the Western style of market economy, which is primarily based on private ownership. This caused deep-rooted changes in the living conditions of almost every citizen of Eastern Germany. The social process of transformation hit the Eastern German agricultural sector with full force, thus causing a structural change. This was not simply a question of privatisation. The task at the same time was to develop the agricultural sector to adopt a market-orientated, internationally competitive, lasting and more environmentally tolerable position and to incorporate it within the EU agricultural policies. On the one hand, the previous course of the agricultural process of transformation in the new Federal States reveals tendencies to align with the West German and West European agricultural conditions, on the other hand however, there are also interesting peculiarities, including the quality of the company forms, unknown in Western Europe-small family farming companies side by side with privately-owned, large expansive companies in a broad range of legal forms. The privatisation of the land will be completed in the near future. However, the clarification of legal matters pertaining to the individual interests of ownership will stretch into the coming century. Family companies and large private agricultural companies are both subject in an equal manner to the competitive pressure of the national and international markets and only have a true perspective for the future if they are based on a stable clarification of land ownership. The agricultural use of the areas of land has changed considerably in comparison to 1990. In plant production-not least as a result of the EU market regulations-a trend towards more extensive utilisation has set in, involving a greater proportion of grain and maize and a marked reduction in root crop, fruit and vegetable production, even in the traditional East German cultivation centres. The East German livestock and agricultural products of animal origin have dropped by 50% in comparison to their previous levels. The East German Federal States are by far no longer self-supporting in terms of meat and dairy production. They are also supplied by the West European markets. The agricultural sector was forced to relinquish its previous stabilising position as a regional employer in the rural regions as a result of the redundancy of several hundred thousand agricultural workers. This lead to a severe level of unemployment and the dismantling of social functions which had been based on professional work. The consequences for the rural regions resulting from this cannot yet be predicted. Whereas the suburban rural municipalities in the close proximity of larger city growth centres developed in a positive and dynamic manner, the larger proportion of the rural municipalities with their often traditionally agricultural or commercial monostructures suffered considerable disadvantage, sometimes to the extent that their very existence has becone endangered. The state subsidies which have been distributed in a relatively generous manner up until now have only been sufficient to balance these deficits to a certain extent.
Unification of Germany has put East Germany in the position of being a laboratory, a good example of areal changes in the world. At the time of unification the share of East Germany in the whole German GDP was only 7.2% in 1991, but owing to large transfers for East Germany and to the foreign investments, it became 10.9% in 1995. Unification of the currency brought a favorable exchange rate (1 : 1) for East German, but it caused a weakening of the competitive power of East German industries on the world market. All state owned properties and enterprises were put under the control of Treuhandanstalt, which reprivatised, privatised or sold them to West German or foreign companies. Many profitable enterprises were bought as “fillet” by West German big companies and the rest as “fat and bone” by foreign companies, among which French, USA and British dominated. The areal structure of economy in East Germany was worked out by some geographers during the age of DDR (German Democratic Republic), but none have yet tried, because the time is not sufficient since the unification of Germany. The contrast between “Industrial South and Agricultural North” is very clear and rooted in natural conditions and in a long history. Five such economic regions may be distinguishable: agro-industrial region along Baltic coast, agricultural region on lowland in the Middle, mining and industrial region in the South, Sachsen=Thüringen industrial region, and Berlin.
Population loss, the movement of young and middle aged people into occupations outside of agriculture, and the aging of LPG workers had been conspicuous in the rural areas of southwest Thuringia in former East Germany even before reunification. Aging of agricultural workers and acquisition of side jobs by members of farm households, processes similar to those occurring in West Germany and other industrial countries, had already begun. We investigated the employment situation in one particular village close to the former east-west border. Here, some young people were able to continue in their old occupations in the East even after reunification, while those who lost their jobs looked for employment in Bavaria, in former West Germany. They too often found occupations in which they could use their previously learned skills. The local LPG, on the other hand, was turned into a cooperative, which rehired for the most part young skilled workers, while the older generation was let go and went into retirement. There are now only two independent farms and one farmer who has rented his land out to a Bavarian lessee; all other land is rented by the local cooperative. In spite of the political changes the occupational structure of the area, agriculture with subsidiary employment-multiple job-holding farming-remains basically unaltered. We suggest that the equal division inheritance system, leading to small scale farms, and the existence of traditional manufacturing industries, etc., conditions that distinguish this region from the North of former East Germany, have sustained this structure. The location, close to the former border and resulting employment opportunities in the West, that became available with reunification, probably provide significant support for it. The rural area of southwestern Thuringia should thus be understood as having a character which is markedly distinct from that of the North of former East Germany.
This study has attempted to describe some of the regional planning issues that have been developed and executed as well as illustrating some regional problems that have arisen in the former East Germany. Features of regional planning achieved in the former East Germany includes the following: 1) a major effort has been made to provide efficient access between the former East and West Germany; 2) the resolution of many conflicts faced by the two former regions is being addressed in regional plans that have incorporated many of the unique, positive elements that still persist in the former East Germany; and, 3) major efforts are being taken to coordinate and integrate reciprocal regional planning issues with the neighboring East European nations. At the same time, however, various regional problems within the former East Germany have arisen. The main issues are a drastic decline in services in rural areas, the spread of urban sprawl in the cities and suburbs, delays in urban redevelopment projects, and the collapse of industrial areas.
The Central European states experience a tremendous pressure to adapt and likewise demonstrate the respective structural changes in the light of the transition process. There is continuous change of economic structures in an open liberal economic order. However, this change runs smoothly in comparison to the transition states, in which abrupt falls in industrial production could be seen. In West Bohemia-the area under investigation-this economic structural rupture comes to the fore in the form of a decline of importance of agriculture and industry resulting from the long and extensive privatisation process. The economic structural rupture is also characterised by the growing relevance of the service sector, which was strengthened by the successful small-scale privatisation process and the trend to establish new businesses. When one takes the growing importance of services within industrial businesses into consideration, this tertiary process is even reinforced. Considering the population development in West Bohemia after 1990 as well as the economic structural changes, the border districts of Cheb and Tachov in particular show population growth. The border opening brought about a revial of trade and services (and thus settlement) particularly in the border crossing region towards Bavaria. The Aš area and Tachov region provide a good example of this. Although the net population of West Bohemia has increased since 1990, the population of former growth centers, i.e., towns of more than 5, 000 citizens, show fairly high migration losses.
This paper argues that Marxism created new forms of inequality but was not able to abolish many of the old inequalities inherited from capitalism. The legacy of history, social and spatial division of labor, the hierarchy of control in large organizations and power relations proved to be stronger than the Marxist ideology, the abolishment of private ownership, the nationalization of the economy, central planning and all other instruments of Marxism that were meant to create equality and a “new socialist human being”. The author claims that an authoritarian and dogmatic ideology such as Marxism inevitably creates structures of organization where power and decision-making are extremely centralized. Furthermore the so-called “administrative allocation” of scarce resources and the way in which the leading party members were recruited contributed to the centralization of power and high-ranking decision making. In this bureaucratic competition for scarce resources the “periphery” had almost no chance. The image of “greater equality in socialism” was constructed by propaganda and by the communist monopoly over mass media, scientific publications, statistics and public education. In the empirical part the author discusses three examples of inequalities in communist systems: the spatial concentration of highly qualified jobs, gender disparities in the labor market and the inequalities experienced by gypsies. The third chapter deals with the new spatial patterns of inequality emerging in the first period of the transformation process to a market economy.
Since the collapse of the cold war structure, regional integration into the new European framework has been attempted. On the other hand, after the collapse of the socialist system which had suppressed the initiatives of ethnic minorities, tendencies of reviving ethnic identities have become apparent. This paper examines the significance of ethnic minority groups as contributors to the regional integration of Central Europe, treating the case of the German minority in Hungary (Hungary Germans). There is potential for minority groups to foster a multilingual and multicultural society, to stimulate personal and material exchanges between regions, and to play a part as mediators of regional integration by way of capital dispersion, regional specialization of the economy or correction of social inequalities. Since they play an important role in the process of the regional integration of Central Europe, more attention should be given to minority groups.