Flat Earth: East turns red

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The Independent Online
PRECIOUS LITTLE of what East Germany had to offer survived reunification. Almost everything eastern, from state-run kindergartens to schnapps and short shopping hours, has succumbed to allegedly superior western German values and products.

Against the tide of imports, the Ossis could point to just one successful export. Back in the days of communist enslavement, eastern motorists were allowed to turn right against a red light, unlike their liberated cousins on the other side of the minefields. A brilliant idea, thought Wessi planners: after the fall of the Wall, they promptly began adding little green arrows of empowerment to traffic lights.

A decade later, though, the arrows are disappearing - Munich has just removed the last ones in the city. Why? Because they were pointless.

Despite attempts to re-educate them, the supposedly easy-going Bavarians could not shed their conditioning, and would not drive through red. In east Berlin, though, the arrows work like a dream.