Post-Unification and Beyond to a Modern Germany

In the lead-up to reunification and the first all-German elections two months later, German chancellor Helmut Kohl had promised people on both sides a “blooming landscape” in the East within five years, and a country in which, “Things won’t be worse for anybody, and will be much better for many.”

We Are The People

Still, many East Germans elected to stay home and push for substantive changes in their government and society.

Voting With Their Cars and Feet

Later that same year, when Hungary ripped down its section of the Iron Curtain, hundreds of unhappy East Germans stormed across the Austrian border, from there traveling on to West Germany.

The Normality of the Abnormal

Both Germanys continued to develop along divergent paths, earning prestige and envy for their many achievements.

Greater Divides

While both Germanys excelled in their respective spheres, they did not exactly form a mutual admiration society.

Economic Miracle

Taking all the energies and resourcefulness that had made them a great power before, both Germanys set about to regain their place among the world’s major nations.

The Politics of Division

Over the four years of occupation, Germans on both sides assumed more and more administrative tasks and functions.

Two Germanys – One People?

But a major split remained between the three Western zones and the Eastern zone, which widened as the Occupation proceeded.

Occupation and Rebirth

Germany had fought to the bitter end, and that end had proved quite bitter indeed: much of the “thousand-year Reich” lay in rubble, and the country was occupied by the four major allies who had combined to defeat the Nazi regime (the USA, Britain, the Soviet Union and France).

World War II

At first, afraid of confronting a resurgent Germany, Western democracies watched its aggression with gritted teeth. But when German troops invaded Poland on 1 September, 1939, the worst war the world has ever known was unleashed.

The Third Reich and its Periphery

The man who finally assumed the mantle of Führer was a somewhat unlikely candidate: Adolf Hitler, a native Austrian who wasn’t even a German citizen until 1932, shortly before he ran for president of Germany.

Weimar Republic

The first republic in German history, known as the Weimar Republic, had more than its share of birth pains, including armed uprisings of extremist factions on the left and the right.

First World War

As German imperialist zeal flourished, it was inevitable that the young power would come into conflict with the older, more established colonial empires.

Germany Up and Running

As predicted, the new state soon assumed its place among the world’s great powers.

The First German Unification

A number of political attempts – most notably the 1848 democratic revolutions – were made during this period to realize the dreams of liberal, democratic idealists.

The Reformation

The tensions reached their boiling point in the early 16th Century when a German monk, Martin Luther, boldly challenged the theology and authority of the established Roman Catholic Church.

Pre-Modern ‘Germany’

The basic German business structure is highly hierarchical with strongly defined roles.