In case you didn’t already know, Germany was once split into East Germany and West Germany. The western side was far richer than the east and much of the west frowned upon the east which is also something that we see in today’s world some 50 years later. The east and west were divided by the Berlin Wall, a wall that was specially designed to withstand a huge amount of force, equivalent to that of a HGV truck smashing straight into in, designed to be impenetrable so that Eastern Germans could not gain access to Western Germany and anyone who tried their luck to get past “checkpoint Charlie” would be shot and killed by patrolling officers immediately.
As you can see from this infographic, you can see where each team is the more established teams in Germany such as Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04 etc are all on the western side of the Germany mainland and this correlates to how successful each divide was during the time when Germany was split into the eastern and western parts.
When the Bundesliga was formed in 1962, this was when the divide was is in its prime and this means that there were no eastern german football sides in the Bundesliga until after the Berlin Wall was demolished in 1989 and Germany was reunified in 1990. This means that because the western district was far more wealthy than the east that the football clubs would have had more resources to generate better players and establish themselves more as the heavyweights of German football whereas the eastern german clubs didn’t have these resources at their disposal and so were held back by their quality in football and that still reflects on the league standing today with most of the eastern german clubs situated in the lower tiers of the system.
The only anomaly in this system is the infamous RB Leipzig and how their storming first season in the Bundesliga has led to them finishing runners up to Bayern Munich. But as everyone is aware this is only due to the huge investment into the club that has been put into their youth development and transfer policies such as not signing any player over the age of 24. Seems like the Leipzig owners have been playing too much Football Manager!
The only team that come from the east and are successful seem to be Hertha Berlin who are situated in the German capital which used to be in the eastern area of Germany. But this is also down to the huge city that they are based in and they attract an average of around 50,000 fans a game so this means that they attract bigger crowds than their nearest rivals Union Berlin as well as playing their home matches in the iconic Olympiastadion.
The last champions of the Oberliga were Hansa Rostock who have spent time in the top division of the Bundesliga but nowadays find themselves stuck in the lower half of the 3. Liga and the famous Berliner FC Dynamo who won the Oberliga for a record 10 consecutive times prior to it’s end and now they play in the 4th tier of German football when at one point they at the very top. This came as a result of the reunification and that players discovered that they could get paid a lot more to play for the western clubs and as a result of this they lost the majority of their best players and began to quickly fall down the leagues until we reach today where they are now unrecognisable to an outsider who wants to learn more about German Football.
Although it wasn’t just Berliner FC Dynamo that faced this issue, it was an issue that swept right across the whole of East German football and that is one of the main factors to blame the reunification of Western and Eastern Germany on how unsuccessful the eastern German sides have been since the reunification. To put things into perspective, excluding RB Leipzig, eastern Germany’s best performing clubs are Hertha Berlin, Dynamo Dresden, Union Berlin and Carl Zeiss Jena. Only 1 of them are in the Bundesliga which shows just how much of an impact the Berlin Wall had on all aspects of life in Germany as well as its football.