An East German woman’s application to a Western employer marked down “Minus Ossi” © dpa / n24.de (IMAGE 8) – Click Image to Continue
Stereotyping was and still is one of the most pronounced features of German-German memory work of the Wende (see Weinreb on stereotypes of German-German obesity and Klocke on attitudes toward medical care). Discussions of what it means to be East or West German intensified with the advent of the German unification process. Since then, cultural and social stereotyping prolongs the systemic competition that was part and parcel of the Cold War. Stereotypes predominantly derived from and referred to everyday practice: the way Easterners walked and talked, carried and dressed themselves (see Eghigian 37). These tropes remain virulent today and have become the legacy of successive generations. For example, in 2010 the German Federal Court was called upon to decide on the ethnic identity of East Germans after a woman from the East accused a Western employer of ethnic discrimination when he handed back her job application with the negative comment “Minus: Ossi” (Ossi is a derogatory term for Easterner). However, the Court rejected this instance of prejudice. While the ruling can be read as a rejection of lived experience as such, the Federal Court was unable to identify it as an instance of cultural discrimination. On these grounds, goes the legal argument, East Germans would be constituted as an independent ethnic community. We might speculate about the intellectual and material consequences for a revaluation of the Wende process in light of a postcolonial theoretical paradigm.