chapter  8
22 Pages

Making Places in Increasingly Empty Spaces: Dealing with Shrinkage in Post-Socialist Cities—The Example of East Germany


The impact of the ongoing demographic change is nowhere in Germany as strong as in the former socialistic part of the country. Since the Berlin Wall disappeared in 1989, the population in East Germany decreased by 12 percent from 18.6 to 16.5 million people. Despite the fact that the real shape of development had long since been obvious-East Germany lost about 9 percent of its inhabitants during the 1990s (Werz 2001)—until up to fi fteen years ago, “shrinkage” was a political taboo in Germany and systematically disregarded as a dominant development trend even in deprived areas. Since the turn of the millennium, however, the situation has changed signifi cantly. Initial point of a broad debate in Germany on the stabilization of the housing market, the effi ciency of infrastructures in areas of high vacancies and new “leitbilder” for shrinking cities-like the “perforated city”—was primarily the crisis of the East German housing industry. At the same time, demographic trends tend to defi ne the public debate since it is clear that the German population as a whole is both aging and shrinking, most severely in the eastern parts of Germany.