Germany court rules former East Germany citizens not unique ethnic group

[JURIST] A German court ruled Thursday that persons from the former East Germany do not constitute a unique ethnic group for discrimination prevention purposes. The matter arose [DW report] when an East Berlin woman sued a Stuttgart company after the company rejected her employment application and returned her resume with the term "Ossi," a derogatory term for someone with ties to the former East Germany, written alongside a minus sign. Though admitting the term's negative connotation, the judge concluded that place of birth alone is inadequate to qualify [Spiegel report] as an ethnic group. Additional attributes such as tradition, culture, language, and religion must be considered, and the former East Germany is not sufficiently disparate from West Germany, per the court.

Many Germans believe that, though the physical barriers that once divided Germany no longer exist, a "wall in the mind" persists that leads to continued prejudice. A 2008 study concluded that 64 percent of those from the former East Germany believe they are regarded as "second-class citizens," [Spiegel report] while 77 percent believe that those from West Germany receive preferential treatment. The same study revealed that 59 percent of those surveyed feel the country continues to consist of two distinct communities.

 

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