News Focus20 Years After the Wall

Why So Few East German Directors?

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Science  06 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5954, pp. 791
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_791

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The Max Planck Society has 267 active directors, of which only five grew up on the eastern side of the divided Germany and only one started a career before 1989. Those statistics are a sign of the mixed blessings that reunification brought for East German scientists. For many, especially the younger ones, it was a great opportunity (see p. 792). But others were set adrift when entire preexisting eastern institutes were closed or cut to a fraction of their original size. Universities, dominated by the Communist Party, were reorganized, and researchers had to compete with West Germans.