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The Great Fall: Business impact

Updated Monday, 3rd November 2014

What was the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall on business in Europe?   

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Line of Trabant cars Creative commons image Icon Schmidt under CC-BY-SA-3.0-de license under Creative-Commons license A line of German Trabant cars On the evening of 9th November 1989, the Berlin Wall falls following the increasing demand for more freedom by the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
I was 12 years old at that time and followed the news on TV, watching the typical Trabant cars crossing the borders and people celebrating at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. It felt surreal not only for a twelve-year-old boy trying to understand what was happening, but also for all of Germany realising the meaning and impact on Europe and the world.
The reunion of East and West Germany required significant investments by the German population, and I am not referring to financial investments only. Investments in tolerance, patience, and time have been just as important as the investments made in infrastructure and employment. Roads and railways required new pavements and maintenance, energy supply and communication channels needed to be established and the inner German migrations from the east to the west challenged the new states to keep young and professional staff to support the rehabilitation of formerly East German cities and the countryside. 
However, investments and challenges are the natural drivers for economic growth and today, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the business landscape in both Germany and Europe has changed. In fact, in 1989 not only had the Berlin Wall fallen but the gate to Eastern Europe also opened its doors, as symbolised in the Brandenburg Gate. Western organisations expanded their businesses in countries such as Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary, and who knows whether increased trade with Russia and China would have been possible if the Berlin Wall was still here today.
Nonetheless, the expansion of businesses into those new markets havs been a result of falling trade barriers rather than of establishing subsidiaries in the former East Germany to strengthen the region. As a result, a significant imbalance in economic performance between East and West Germany still exists and it may take at least another 25 years until the gap between East and West Germany is closed.

Read more articles from Open University academics about their knowledge and experiences of the fall of the Berlin Wall.


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