There’s an economic story in this Spiegel pictorial that practically slaps the reader in the face, but doesn’t even draw a response from the article’s author.

During a trip to East Germany in 1990, photographer Stefan Koppelkamm discovered buildings that had survived both the war and the construction mania of the East German authorities. Ten years later, he returned to photograph the buildings again. The comparison threw up some unexpected contrasts.

All-American Blogger explains the unexpected contrast:

The economy of West Germany, which in 1988 had $323 billion in exports to East Germany’s $30.7 billion, took over after Marxism’s collapse.
In ten years, the properties were completely renovated. Speigel sings a sad song of progress, completely missing the economic lesson.

The Spiegel article explains the communist plan:

For the communist regime, the goal had always been clear. The social problem of housing would be resolved by 1990. That’s what Erich Honecker declared in June 1971 at the eighth party congress of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), the ruling political party, shortly after he took over the post of general secretary from his predecessor Walter Ulbricht. The new leader wanted to distinguish himself and minimize frustration among the East German population through a social policy centered around an ambitious housing program.

Government plans foresaw the modernization of old buildings which were still intact as well as the construction of monstrous high-rise settlements on the outskirts of cities. But in Görlitz, a town in the easternmost corner of the GDR, the buildings of the historic old town were almost all completely evacuated by the late 1980s — most of them were uninhabitable. The East German government had planned to demolish the buildings and redevelop the area, but it never came to that. The GDR didn’t solve its housing problem by 1990. Instead, the state itself disintegrated.

That communist plan in East Germany, 40+ years in the making, led to this:

And this:

Just 10 years after the West German economy had taken over, capitalism brought about these changes in the same areas:

And this:

There was indeed, as the article suggests, a massive face lift for Eastern Germany – it was the introduction of a capitalistic society, and the fall of communism.