This week in Stuttgart a labor court will decide on the issue of East German ethnic identity after a East German born woman filed a anti-discrimination lawsuit against a West German window manufacturer for rejecting her application on the basis of her origin. The returned resume had the words “Ossi” and a minus sign written across it. The defendants lawyer feels this is not an isolated case of discrimination but one of many that occur often in the Western German job market. The opposition claims that not only are East Germans not a separate ethnic group from West Germans but the word “Ossi” was not in reference to her East German origin but her lack of qualifications.
In my experience the term “Ossi” is often used in a negative context in reference to Germans from the East so regardless of whether or not the phrase was a commentary about the woman’s place of birth or her qualifications it is still a negative comment and therefore does fall under the category of discrimination. What I find interesting about this case is the outcome of the ruling on East Germans as being a separate ethnic group. It has been argued that because East Germany did not last longer than one generation it did not have enough time to form its own ethnic identity. Is there a time line on identity? I am under the age of 40. Does this mean I have not had enough time to find and form my own identity?
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