My Second Life

East German Women in a Changed World

"I am talking about my two lives. My first life was over with the reunification.
I am now living my second life." (testimonial of an East German woman.)

A FOLLOW-UP DOCUMENTARY to the "Test the West!" series,
this video offers deep insights into the complex process of German reunification.

Six years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, drastic social cut-backs have changed life for East German women dramatically. A gigantic socialist support system has been lost, which had enabled 91% of East German women to be employed even while raising three or more children.

Today, women find themselves pushed off the tightening job market at unproportional numbers. They are driven from their careers, and thus into financial dependence in their marriages.

Because of all this, there is a wide-spread notion, that women are the losers of the reunification.Yet, interviwes with these very women show a surprisingly wide spectrum of responses to the changes in their lives.

Written and produced by a former native of East Germany, Simone Shoemaker, "My Second Life" offers a better understanding of the situation by letting East German women speak for themselves.

They look back at the old system and see many good things lost, but at the same time the sum of their experiences proves that a story is never as black and white as newspaper headlines might make it appear.
Worried Mother
Children, once a normal part of any working woman's life, have suddenly become the barrier between them and a career.
East German day care
"This is a truly unique video that gives many penetrating insights into the lives of a broad cross-section of East German women. It contains a minimum of editorializing, with lots of the information coming straight from the women involved. The opinions expressed are finely differentiated, reflecting the complex experiences that for some women were liberating, while for many others the changes resulted in wrenching economic and social dislocation."

- Peter Brown, State University of New York at New Paltz


Day care in East Germany used to be ridiculously cheap -
50 cents per day, including all meals. Today, while still available, it has become so expensive that most women can't afford it with what they'd make at their job.
My Second Life:
©1996, 53 minutes, color, live action
English narration with subtitled German interviews

DVD copies are available to schools and libraries for $49.- This price includes public performance rights for use in the classroom. Price for individuals (home use only!!) is $19.-
A complete transcript of the program, including all German interviews and their translation, is available for an additional $10.-
older East German woman
As unemployment rises to 15% and more, many older women are pushed into early retirement to make room for younger workers. At 53, this woman faces a life of boredom at home - devoid of the career she identified with.