As Germany marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this week, many older people in the country's East will once again recall the newly won freedoms they enjoyed as the ground was prepared for German reunification.

But they may also recall the hardships many endured when their planned economy was replaced with a free market system basically overnight. It meant that hundreds of thousands lost their jobs in the ensuing years as they were told their firms were not competitive enough in the new market environment.

Back in 2013, Der Spiegel magazine ran a story headlined "Rust in peace." It drew attention to the many large factories across Eastern Germany that were shut in the early 1990s and had been falling into disrepair ever since.

Saxony is a case in point. Once a huge hub of the textile industry, the German state still shows the scars of post-unification upheaval. You don't have to drive far to spot large industrial ruins, especially in and around the towns of Chemnitz and Plauen, where thousands of textile workers used to be employed in state-owned conglomerates sprawling dozens of hectares. Read More