Children of the fall of the Communism

They were born after the Fall of the Wall that had divided East and West for 40 years: Tobias Filp and Tim Hoga are currently finishing their training at Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen, Tina Vogler and Nils Puschendorf at the Jena site. They never personally experienced the border, since they all grew up in a reunited Germany.

In the fall of 2009, they related what they knew about East Germany and what German unity meant to them in an interview with editors of the Carl Zeiss employee magazine (CZiB).

CZiB: What do you know about East Germany?

TIM: Actually, I only know what we learned at school. In East Germany, there was a planned economy with fixed prices for goods. I once gave a presentation on that.

TINA: In our case, we hardly talked about East Germany and the fall of the Wall at school. The focus was more on the historical background of the period before then. I didn’t learn very much from my parents either. Sometimes they talked about the Pioneer Organization and the songs that were sung there.

CZiB: What do you think about reunification?

TIM: At school we only talked a little bit about the fall of the Wall and how everything came about. About Gorbachev and Kohl and that the people came streaming into the West from the East.

CZiB: Is German reunification at all relevant for you today?

TOBIAS: With friends – in private circles I mean – not at all, really. We can’t personally imagine how things were back then. We were born when everything was together again.

TINA: Personally, I don’t think the East/West conflict plays much of a role in our generation, and there are hardly any differences. We were simply born into this period of time and don’t know anything different.

CZiB: Are there still prejudices between East and West?

NILS: Not directly, though we sometimes get amused looks because of our Thuringian dialect, especially on vacation.

TIM: It’s not all that different with Swabian!

CZiB: So there’s no point in asking whether you feel like East Germans (“Ossis”) or West Germans (“Wessis”)?

TINA: I think of myself as German.
(Editor’s comment: Everyone else nods.)

CZiB: What experience do you have with the other side?

TINA: I am the Chairperson of the Youth Training Team in Jena, so I often travel to western Germany for training courses. I’ve always been treated just like any other participant. There were no differences.

CZiB: How do things look inside Carl Zeiss? Is there any prejudice between East and West?

TOBIAS: Carl Zeiss is Carl Zeiss. It is one company and we belong together. There really isn’t any difference.

NILS: Sometimes I wish there was more contact back and forth, especially among the trainees. We really don’t know that much about the headquarters in Oberkochen.

CZiB: How about if, after your training, you were each offered a position at the other location?

TIM: My family and my girlfriend are here, and I play handball a lot. It wouldn’t be that easy. Still, Carl Zeiss is a big-name company. It’s just like with pro soccer players. When Real Madrid asked Mesut Özil if he wanted to go to Madrid, he said yes. You don’t let opportunities like that slip away…

TINA: Nowadays there are a lot of different options, and you have to be flexible as a young person. Why not Oberkochen? Why not abroad sometime?

CZiB: How do you envision your future with Carl Zeiss?

TOBIAS: I first would like to finish my training successfully and then continue working at Carl Zeiss and maybe study.

TINA: After my training, I would first like to work for a while and earn a little money, and then try to take advantage of any further education opportunities I have with the company. I have my high school diploma, so I think I have a few possibilities open to me.