Lonely Planet Writer

Germans going east in reversal of traditional internal movement

People from the original West Germany are now moving to the former East in greater numbers than people going the other way for the first time.

The Berlin Wall prevented people from the east of the city moving into the west until it was torn down in 1989
The Berlin Wall prevented people from the east of the city moving into the west until it was torn down in 1989 Image by Sagie / CC BY-SA 2.0

Official records published show more citizens are moving from western states to eastern ones since the reunification of the nation in 1990.  The Local newspaper recalls that during the Cold War, citizens from East Germany risked life and limb to escape across the border to the West. When the country was reunited 26 years ago, migration from the East continued at a pace with up to 200,000 flooding into old West Germany because of better economic conditions. The German Federal Institute for Population Research says the trend has begun to change over the past few years largely due to the fact that Berlin has a growing attractiveness. The Institute claimed that the capital and its environs has a special appeal, adding that without Berlin, net immigration would be negative.

Berlin is attracting people from the west to relocate either in the city or in the areas around it, boost immigration figures in the process
Berlin is attracting people from the west to relocate either in the city or in the areas around it, boost immigration figures in the process Image by Biwischnitte1 / CC BY-SA 2.0

Other former eastern cities such as Leipzig and Dresden also experienced an influx although the majority of smaller towns continue to suffer from depopulation. This is because unemployment in the old East is still much worse than in the western part of the country.  Although a new report, published last week, says there have been massive strides made in eastern cities in economic and technological advances. The Prognos think-tank noted that Berlin and Leipzig had made the biggest gains from a point of view of job prospects and prosperity and innovation.