When it comes to the right way to deal with Russia, the opinions of Germans in East and West differ. This also applies to looking back at the GDR. In a representative survey by the opinion research institute Yougov on behalf of the German Press Agency, 37 percent of those questioned agreed with the statement that “Russia is a country with which the federal government should be on good terms”. Every second participant in the survey expressed their negative opinion. However, approval was significantly higher among people in the eastern federal states than among those entitled to vote in the territory of the old Federal Republic.
However, the fact that more people in the East are calling for a cautious approach to Russia should not necessarily be understood as approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s course. A look at the results of the survey shows that concerns also play a role here. According to the survey, there are more people in the area of the former GDR who see Russia as a threat to Germany than people who don’t see it that way.
Only 28 percent of Germans consider Russia a “potential partner”
According to Yougov, the largest proportion of AfD voters thinks that the federal government should be on good terms with Russia. This is followed – albeit at a great distance – by voters from the Left and the FDP. The proportion is even lower among the voters of the other parties represented in the Bundestag. Nationwide, 63 percent of those eligible to vote see Russia as a threat to Germany. 30 percent of Germans tend to agree or disagree with this statement. Only eight percent said they were undecided or gave no information. Only 28 percent of respondents nationwide see Russia as a “potential partner” for Germany. 62 percent of Germans reject this assessment.
The Soviet Union, whose center of power was Russia, played a formative role in the GDR. As part of the Eastern bloc, the GDR was economically, politically and culturally dependent on its “big brother” for decades. According to a survey, almost every second person in the East is of the opinion that the political system of the GDR had more advantages for the professional life of its citizens compared to today’s Federal Republic. The proportion of those who believe that the disadvantages outweigh the disadvantages in the professional context is significantly lower.
However, the results of the survey are only representative of adult Germans overall; they reflect a trend for people in the east and west. In the West, where many only knew the reality of life in the GDR from reports and occasional visits to relatives, just under one in three believes that the GDR system had more professional advantages than disadvantages for the citizens of the socialist “workers’ and farmers’ state”.
As far as private life is concerned, which among other things was characterized by the lack of freedom to travel, the view of the GDR in the east is somewhat more positive than in the west. However, looking back at the GDR regime, which was swept away by the peaceful revolution in 1989, more people in both the West and the East see disadvantages for private life than advantages.
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