Intended for healthcare professionals


Ten years of German unification

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 04 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1094

We need to know more about the impacts on health

  1. Ellen Nolte, research fellow (,
  2. Martin McKee, professor of European public health
  1. European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    Ten years ago last month the postwar division of Germany came to an end. Less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the two halves of Germany became a single state. In a decade during which Europe was characterised by immense social and political transition, the experience of the people of the former German Democratic Republic was unique. Institutions and policies developed over 45 years of communist rule were swept away almost at once. Although neighbouring countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, underwent rapid change, none could compete with the scale of the East German transition. It would be surprising if social and economic transition on this scale had not had an impact on the health of those living in the former East Germany. Ten years on, it is beginning to be possible to assess what this impact has been.

    The scenes in Berlin on the night the wall fell testify to the initial euphoria …

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