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.”
Still, many East Germans elected to stay home and push for substantive changes in their government and society.
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.
Both Germanys continued to develop along divergent paths, earning prestige and envy for their many achievements.
While both Germanys excelled in their respective spheres, they did not exactly form a mutual admiration society.
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.
Over the four years of occupation, Germans on both sides assumed more and more administrative tasks and functions.
But a major split remained between the three Western zones and the Eastern zone, which widened as the Occupation proceeded.
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).
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 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.
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.
As German imperialist zeal flourished, it was inevitable that the young power would come into conflict with the older, more established colonial empires.
As predicted, the new state soon assumed its place among the world’s great powers.
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 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.
The basic German business structure is highly hierarchical with strongly defined roles.