THE ETERNAL slanging match between East and West Germans has escalated sharply, following suggestions that the former communists are unsuited to democracy ... because of their toilet-training.
A leading Western criminologist claims he knows why, 10 years after re-unification, the Ossis (East Germans) remain a nation apart - especially in their attitudes to foreigners and in political behaviour. The answer, claims Professor Christian Pfeiffer, lies in the Ossis' regimented potty- training at communist creches.
Professor Pfeiffer's thesis has provoked a wave of outrage throughout the East, but has been welcomed by Wessi (Western) nursery teachers working in the East, who are shocked by the harsh methods of their colleagues. According to the psychologists, a child forced out of nappies too early may develop personality problems in later life.
The criminologist believes that collective potty sessions suppressed East Germans' individuality and broke their naturally rebellious human spirit. The result is authoritarian youths drawn to gangs preying on people who are "different". Foreigners are 25 times more likely to be attacked in the East than in the West. Prof Pfeiffer describes explanations such as unemployment and loss of values in a society turned upside down as a "myth".
The Ossis remain proud of their upbringing, which they see as producing human beings imbued with the values of solidarity, companionship and the suppression of egotistical ambition for the sake of the community. They refuse to accept that the West's "elbow society" is superior to their own emphasis on caring and sharing.
In any case, they conclude, unlike Western consumers, the East was not blessed with disposable nappies. Early potty-training was an economic necessity. FULL STORY, PAGE 21
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies