Mary Elise Sarotte’s book, The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe, aptly depicts the status of West/East Germany and how it was the centerpiece for the recreation of Europe after the Cold War. Sarotte begins the book by discussing five major changes that occurred in the summer of 1989 which opened up the Berlin Wall. 1) The failure of events like Tiananmen to transfer over to a European context; 2) the choice of the American government to remove itself from the issue; 3) East Germans taking on the status quo; 4) an increase in East German self-confidence; and 5) the impact of television at this pivotal moment. I will not go into detail for each of these, as Sarotte does so in the book, however number 5 did provoke some questions from me. For instance, how is a media snafu like one such as this not caught or fixed before being released to the public? Is it possible that this fumble of information was intended?
To focus on a more relevant topic of which we have been discussing, in the second chapter of Sarotte’s book, she talks about consumer goods. The lack of consumer goods in East Germany posed a large problem for stores in West Germany as refugees settled in the West. Stores had a difficult time managing the extreme increase in demand resulting from new consumers entering the market. East German citizens were fleeing not only from the poor living standards but more specifically the poor economic status that contributed to it. They were experiencing a massive demand deficit in East Germany thanks to low wages and high priced goods. Refugees placed a large stress on the economic system of the West which could have had unpredictable effects on reunification of Germany.