National Geographic : 1970 Jan
though there are plenty of jobs here. There are, in fact, 35,000 unfilled jobs in West Ber lin. We have brought in 30,000 foreign work men-mostly from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Spain, and Greece-to ease the labor shortage, and still we are short." West Berlin is nonetheless a busy industrial city, with a gross output of 20.7 billion marks (5.2 billion dollars) a year-4 percent of the output of the entire Federal Republic of Ger many.* Its biggest employer is the electrical industry; the Siemens company alone pro vides work for 45,000 people (page 42). A number of American firms have plants in West Berlin, among them Kaiser Aluminum, Gillette, Otis Elevator, IBM, Pitney-Bowes, and National Cash Register. Subsidies Bolster City's Economy Yet despite all this industry, West Berlin is not economically self-sufficient, and must be subsidized by the Federal Republic to the tune of almost a billion dollars a year. A West German economist discussed the paradoxical situation with me, and a few of the factors that contribute to it. For one thing, he said, West Berlin has more than its share of public lands and parks -facilities vital to citizen morale in an iso lated city. As a showcase of Western pros perity, he continued, it must have more than its share of glitter. "And if you were a businessman thinking of building a new factory," the economist said, "would you choose, say, Frankfurt, safe in the west, or Berlin, with its uncertain future? Obviously we must offer incentives, which means subsidies." Part of the subsidy is for youth. A young couple marrying in the city may request and receive as much as 3,000 marks ($750) on their wedding day and a no-interest loan for 11 years that is reduced with the birth of every child. If a couple has three children, the loan is canceled entirely. The pair may also re ceive a loan of 10,000 marks for 10 years at a low rate of interest to help with housing and furniture. Businessmen have it even better. Tax al lowances are substantial, and the government will pay as much as 25 percent in cash toward the cost of purchasing certain types of indus trial equipment. Tax rebates on all sales to West Germany complete the picture of a growing money tree. I told the mayor how surprised I was at the economic health of East Germany and 34 the unexpectedly high standard of living I had seen while I was there. "I have just returned from East Germany and Poland," he replied, "and there is no doubt that in the Red bloc East Germany has achieved an industrial level second only to Russia's. The East Germans are pulling away from Poland, for example. We in the West *See "Modern Miracle, Made in Germany," by Robert Leslie Conly, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, June 1959. Graceful as the birds they portray, ballerinas dance Swan Lake at the West's Deutsche Oper Berlin. Three major opera houses-two in the East and one in the West-help Berlin live up to the description by composer Hec tor Berlioz a century ago: "Music is in the air-one breathes it; it penetrates the entire being."