Letter: East German history a bad guide to EMU

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Miller (letter, 7 October) believes that the initial decline of the East German economy after unification was due to monetary union with West Germany, and deduces from this presupposition that EMU would lead to mass unemployment.

I sincerely hope that Mr Miller's letter is an example of the famous English sense of humour which I fail to understand due to the legendary Teutonic lack of same. Can he really be serious in telling us that the East German economy was once "thriving" under socialism?

The bankruptcy of the East German economy was one of the reasons for the collapse of its government, and the economy was only propped up in its latter years by hard-currency West German loans.

People indeed did have jobs, because in an economy not worried by free- market considerations it apparently did not matter if a product was manufactured for 1,000 marks and sold for 500. Only after unification did the full extent of the disastrous state of the economy become known.

Although the standard of living has not reached West German levels yet, today East Germany boasts some of the most hi-tech car factories in the world and a telecommunications infrastructure superior to West German standards.

The only valid economic objection against the introduction of the West mark in East Germany is the fact that for political rather than economic reasons, one East mark was exchanged for one West mark, while the realistic market rate was 1 to 7 or even less. And I challenge your reader to find many East Germans who wish back the pre-West-mark East Germany.

Sometimes I wonder why - with the notable exception of the Independent and Radio 4 - the things I read and hear in the British news media about Germany bear so little resemblance to the country I left six months ago to set up business here (which I did because the UK indeed offers many benefits it ought to be proud of and preserve against any EU onslaughts).

Dr WOLFGANG HERRLINGER

Bath

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