Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Germany might be the strong man of Europe, but it still has weak spots.Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant has shone a light on one of these areas, Oberhausen, a former industrial town in the once booming Ruhr region.
Oberhausen is no longer booming, and some are beginning to refer to it as the ‘Greece’ of Germany. It’s debt is the largest in Germany — at €2 billion ($2.6 billion) spread over a population of 211,000 inhabitants comes to around €8,000 ($10,000) per person. Unemployment sits at 12%.
Crucially, however, Oberhausen is one of many cities still, after two decades, paying support to the East German cities that were formerly in the GDR — the city had to take out a €270 million ($357 million) loan for payments this year.
With regional elections this year, these payments are becoming a hot political issue. Four Social-Democratic mayors in the Ruhr are calling for the payments to be scrapped, and Joachim Gauck, the first Federal President from East Germany, has said that some areas of the Ruhr “look like the GDR after the fall of the Wall.”
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