WESTERNER SEES EASTERN GERMANY FROM THE INSIDE

Helmut Haustein recalls that when he began working at Erfurt City Hall in January, what he encountered was a city administrative operation ``from the stone ages.'' Mr. Haustein, a seasoned government worker with 20 years of experience in Essen, a city in the heart of industrial west Germany, found that there were few records. There was nothing to indicate, for example, how many city personnel worked in which department. And most deed books for property were missing.

``The term `social service' was unknown,'' Mr. Haustein says. Employees did not understand that the city administration is there to serve the people, and not the other way around, he explains.

Haustein's specialty is administrative organization and personnel. In the three months since he arrived in Erfurt, about two-thirds of a top-to-bottom administrative reorganization has been put behind him.

Haustein, who ended up camping out in an office with construction work going on all around him, came to Erfurt for a six-month tenure at the mayor's request. But he came too because it was ``once-in-a-lifetime work'' for a city administrator.

Friction between east Germans and transplanted west-Germans is a common problem, but Haustein says he thinks he has avoided it.

``You can't lecture people here. You have to work alongside with them,'' he says. It's a mistake when west Germans arrive and try to teach a superior system, he says. ``My colleagues have accepted me as if I belong, and I want to belong.''

Although Essen and Erfurt have a cooperative agreement with each other, Haustein is the only full-time Essen employee here. He has been able to bring in colleagues from back home for seminars. But he says he could use experienced west Germans in each department.

Yet, even if he could get 50 experienced people from the west, he doubts they could find places to live. Hotels are booked solid, and housing is tight. On weekends, he returns to Essen, bringing a week's worth of stories for his wife ... and a bag full of laundry.

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