• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
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  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
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  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
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  • A
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  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • T

    style='font-size:31.5pt;font-family:ATClassicRoman;color:black'>HE FEDERAL REPUBLIC

    19491990

     

    ADENAUER ERA

    In 2003 Germans were asked to name the greatest person their country had ever

    produced. To the surprise of many Konrad Adenauer received more votes than

    other famous personalities such as Martin Luther, Otto von Bismarck, Ludwig van

    Beethoven, or Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Their choice was a good one because

    his leadership made possible the resurrection of a German state after World War

    II, which not only became a parliamentary democracy but also a trusted Western

    ally against the Soviet Union. His leadership was the greatest asset of the fledgling

    Federal Republic. He already had been an important political figure during the

    Weimar era as mayor of Cologne before his dismissal by the Nazis in 1933. A conservative

    Catholic who detested totalitarianism but did not actively participate in

    the resistance, he nonetheless was arrested and managed to experience the pain

    of concentration camp life. He was again made mayor of Cologne in 1945 by the

    military government, but his proud independence and criticisms of the occupation

    led to his dismissal by the British, which nonetheless contributed to his popularity

    among the Germans. He was then free to organize the Christian

    Democratic Union (CDU) first in the British zone and then in the rest of West Germany.

    He became the leading figure in the CDU and in 1949 was chosen the Federal

    Republics first chancellor. His patience and negotiating skill helped him gain

    concessions from the Western Allied powers. His dislike of Prussia and Berlin

    meant that he would have little hesitation to move the capital from Berlin to Bonn

    in his native Rhineland, where Germanys windows are wide open to the West.

    His Catholicism also became an advantage as so many Protestants were located in

    East Germany behind the Iron Curtain. He was patriarchal and a father figure

    for millions of Germans in the difficult transition from Hitlers dictatorship to

    democratic self-government. It was also good for Germanys economic future that

    he favored free market principles and rejected the demand for the nationalization

    of basic industries that so many Germans preferred. He chose as his minister of

    economics Ludwig Erhard, who had dismantled price controls and rationing

    imposed under the Allied occupation. Criticized for allowing former Nazis to

    occupy political offices, he replied that only unrepentant Nazis should be kept

    from holding office. Besides bringing the Federal Republic into the Western fold

    as part of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), he made a priority of rec-

    160

    onciling differences with France. He cultivated a friendship with Israel and recognized

    the need to pay restitution to Jews for Hitlers crimes. Finally, Adenauers

    control over the cabinet and parliament was so firm that it was said he had

    invented a new political system known as Chancellor-Democracy.

    Yet, even with such an impressive figure in a position of leadership, the

    shadow of the failed Weimar Republic hung over the revival of German political

    life. People wondered if democracy could ever be revived or ever succeed.

    What then were the factors that made it possible for the Federal Republic to

    become a successful liberal democracy? There was no unpopular treaty to

    defend as Weimar had to do with the Versailles Treaty. The Potsdam Conference

    had set the geographic boundaries for the postwar German state, and the

    historic state of Prussia was dissolved, which eliminated the basis of power of

    the conservative elites (Junkers). There also was to be no stab-in-the-backlegend

    that civilians were to blame for Germanys defeat as was the case after

    1918. The defeat of the military was quite clear, and no longer would there be

    a state within a state, as was the case with the army before and after World War

    I. A more homogeneous population emerged after 1945. Regional differences

    The Federal Republic 161

    U.S. Air Force C-54s

    are lined up awaiting

    takeoff from Rhein-

    Main Air Base in

    Frankfurt for Berlin

    during the airlift.

    (United States Air

    Force)

    were diminished, and the war had brought about an unprecedented mingling

    of peoples from different classes and regions. The population of the Federal

    Republic was 20 percent larger than it was in 1938, while a considerable area

    of agricultural land was lost. Some 7 million refugees from eastern Europe were

    resettled in Germany, which considerably changed the population. For instance,

    the refugees from the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia provided a stimulus for

    industrial development that had been missing, especially in Bavaria. Due to the

    excesses of the war, nationalism declined and the reformed Germans were

    accepted into the European community. Most Germans turned their backs on

    the recent past and did not resist the Allied occupation or parliamentary democracy,

    which was backed by the United States.

    The emergence of the cold war as early as 1946 led to the Berlin Blockade

    of 1948. The Soviets had reacted to the currency reform in the western zones

    on June 24, 1948, by imposing a blockade on all land and water routes to West

    Berlin. The Western powers responded to this by instituting an air lift lasting

    for 11 months, which supplied the city of 2 million. It was finally lifted on May

    12, 1949. The division of political life was complete. The Allied High Command

    and Soviet authorities split up on June 16, 1948. Meetings of city councils were

    transferred to the western sector, and by the end of the year separate administrations

    took up residence in different sectors of the city, ending the effort to

    integrate West Berlin into the Soviet zone. Two German states were then set

    up. On May 23, 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was officially established

    following the publication of the Basic Law. The Soviet Union followed

    suit on October 7, 1949, by setting up the German Democratic Republic, which

    made the division of Germany complete.

    were   GERMANC   Germany   Party   their   Prussians   army   state   government   became   they   during   Austrian   CHURCHES   French   political   Frederick   Nazis   Social   Hitler   after   against   economic   some   republican