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Wessi (German pronunciation: [ˈvɛsiː]; "westerner") is the informal name that people in Germany call former citizens of West Germany before re-unification, while the counterpart for former citizens of East Germany is Ossi. These names represent the lingering differences between the two pre-reunification cultures, and Germany's popular culture includes many Ossi-Wessi jokes and cliches.[1] While some people in Germany may consider these names insulting, others regard them as part of the German culture.[2]

There is also the name Besserwessi (besser meaning "better") which is a pun on Besserwisser ("know-it-all") and thus indicates a Wessi who feels superior to Ossis. Some former East Germans feel that former West Germans do not respect their culture and that East Germans were assimilated into West German culture, rather than the two cultures being united as equals.[3] This term was named German Word of the Year in 1991.[4] Politically speaking, in the German Reunification East Germany was indeed incorporated into West Germany under existing West German law. This solution was taken in order to legally avoid the necessity of creating a new constitution as demanded by the West German Grundgesetz, or Constitution.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Deutsche Welle: Typically Ossi -- Typically Wessi, 1 May 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  2. ^ Rennefanz, Sabine (2010-09-30). "East Germans are still different". Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  3. ^ Spiegel Online International: "Was East Germany Really 'Annexed?'", 31 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  4. ^ Spiegel Online: "Ein Jahr, ein (Un-)Wort!" (in German).

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