June 1992, Wernigerode, Germany
The attractive city hall of Wernigerode.
I first visited the Harz region in 1992, only a few years after the reunification of East and West Germany. The former border between east and west cut straight through the Harz, which is the northernmost hilly area in Germany and a popular magnet for tourists.
In 1992, the former border was still quite visible with much of the steel fence and many border towers still standing.
The contrast between east and west was at that time quite noticable. Wernigerode was the first medium-sized town in the east that I visited. Although the main shopping street was quite clean and not unlike a typical town in the west, I was quite upset to view the conditions of buildings off the main street. I literally felt sick to my stomach seeing the condition of many buildings that looked like they hadn't had any care and maintenance since the war!
I haven't visited Wernigerode since then, but during subsequent visits to other towns in the former east, I've noticed much improvement in living conditions. Towns in the former east have an advantage in that they haven't been overrun with too much modern development. Much attention is being spent on restoring the old buildings, and eventually many old towns in the east will be attractive tourist destinations.
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