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History of the Federal Republic of Germany
___ History of the Federal Republic of Germany
Germany celebrates two important anniversaries in 200960 years ago, on 23rd May 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded with the promulgation of the Basic Law; 20 years ago, on 9th November 2009 the wall between East and West fell in Berlin.
Below an overview of six German decades.
The 1950s Economic Miracle - Western Integration - World Cup End and new beginning:
The young Federal Republic builds close links with the western democracies. It is one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and one of the six countries that sign the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community – today’s European Union – in Rome in 1957. In 1955, the Federal Republic joins NATO, the western defense alliance. Economic and social stabilization makes rapid progress. In combination with the currency reform of 1948 and the US Marshall Plan, the social market economy leads to an economic upturn that is soon described as an “economic miracle”. At the same time, the Federal Republic acknowledges its responsibility towards the victims of the Holocaust: Federal Chancellor Adenauer and Israel’s Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett sign a reparations agreement in 1952. Social highlights: victory at the 1954 World Cup and the return of the last German prisoners of war from the Soviet Union in 1956.
The 1960s - The Berlin Wall -Student Movement - New Liberality
Three years later, the Federal Republic is governed by a CDU/CSU and SPD Grand Coalition for the first time: Kurt Georg Kiesinger (CDU) is Federal Chancellor and Willy Brandt (SPD) is Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister. The Federal Republic’s economy flourishes until the mid-1960s and more than two million additional personnel are recruited in southern Europe. Many of these “guestworkers” remain in the country and ask their families to join them. The protest movement of students and intellectuals against “incrusted structures” and strict values make a strong mark on the second half of the decade. It brings about a lasting change in the political culture and society of western Germany. Feminism, new lifestyles, antiauthoritarian education and sexual freedom, long hair, debates, demonstrations, rebellion and new liberality – democracy in the Federal Republic experiments in many directions. The societal changes of this time still continue to have an impact today. An SPD politician becomes Federal Chancellor for the first time in October 1969: Willy Brandt leads a social-liberal government that implements numerous domestic reforms ranging from the expansion of the social welfare system to the improvement of education.
The 1970s - Détente - Economic Crisis - RAF Terrorism
The 1970s are a decade of external peace, but internal tension: the Red Army Faction (RAF) around Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Ulrike Meinhof wants to destabilize the government, economy and society with attacks and kidnappings. The terror reaches its climax in 1977 – and concludes with the suicide of the leading terrorists in prison.
The 1980s - The Greens in the Bundestag - Escape from the GDR - Fall of the Wall
It is the decade in which a new political force appears in Germany. The Greens, the party that grew out of the peace movement and environmental groups, is founded in 1980. Just three years later, it enters the Bundestag for the first time – with knitted sweaters and sunflowers. Culture shock for the established parties. Helmut Kohl (CDU) has been Federal Chancellor since 1982. He was elected head of government by the Bundestag when the FDP left the SPD-FDP coalition under Helmut Schmidt (SPD) and formed a new coalition with the CDU/CSU.
On the evening of 9 November, at a press conference, Politburo member Günter Schabowski surprisingly announces radical relaxations in travel restrictions for private travelers that enter into force “immediately, without delay”. The very same night, thousands of GDR citizens rush to the border with West Berlin, where GDR border guards open numerous crossings without clear orders: the Wall collapses. In December, representatives of the GDR citizens movements negotiate on a democratic restructuring of the GDR. At the same time, however, more and more Germans in the east demand German reunification at demonstrations.
The 1990s - Reunification - Reconstruction East - The Move to Berlin
The first free elections to the GDR People’s Chamber take place on 18 March. The election campaign focused mainly on the shape and speed of unification with the Federal Republic. The election result, a victory for the conservative Alliance for Germany, is a clear vote in favor of the fastest possible unification and the introduction of a social market economy.
The 1990s are strongly marked by the economic consequences of unification and the reconstruction in eastern Germany. Federal and State Governments conclude a solidarity pact to even out the differences arising from 40 years of division. Additionally, a Solidarity Tax is levied in east and west to benefit the reconstruction of eastern Germany. Berlin has been Germany’s capital since unification; it also becomes the seat of government following a decision by the Bundestag. The Bundestag, the Federal Government and most of the ministries move from Bonn to Berlin in 1999. Gerhard Schröder (SPD) moves into the new Chancellery: he has been at the head of the first SPD-Green coalition at federal level since the 1998 elections.
The 2000s - Globalization Reforms - World Cup
The first decade of the new millennium presents a number of occasions for the world to look towards Germany. The first World Exposition of the century is held in Hanover: Expo 2000 is the first at which presentations focus on the themes of sustainability and a balance between humankind, nature and technology. That is appropriate in a new era with new coordinates: globalization moves the world closer together, both economically and politically – at the end of the decade it will also present its downside in the form of the global financial crisis.
The 2006 World Cup puts the country into optimistic party mood. The “summer fairytale” changes the image of Germans for many people abroad: they are cordial hosts and know how to relax and celebrate. The European Union also celebrates its 50th birthday in 2007 during the German EU Presidency in Berlin. The Berlin Declaration recalls the accomplishments of the EU and the shared values and roots of the member states. In 2004 and 2007 the community grows by 12 countries to reach a total of 27 member states. The new members are primarily central European countries. In the same year the G8 also meets in Germany: new impetus for global climate protection, Africa policy and cooperation with the newly industrialized countries come from Heiligendamm.
In domestic policy, Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, at the head of a coalition of SPD and Alliance 90/The Greens, sets out to implement reforms of the welfare system and combat unemployment with the Agenda 2010 programme. In foreign policy, during this decade Germany frequently demonstrates its readiness to assume wide-ranging international responsibilities within the framework of the international community to contribute to solving conflicts and promoting civil society. In November 2005, a woman becomes government leader for the first time: Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel governs with the votes of a CDU/CSU and SPD Grand Coalition. SPD politician Frank-Walter Steinmeier is Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Merkel and Steinmeier are the leading candidates of their respective parties for the Bundestag elections in September 2009.
Source: Deutschland magazine
|More about Germany:
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Wikipedia article about the History of Germany.
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