Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Federal Republic of Germany

I've been to Germany many times.  Some of the places I've been to include Karlsruhe, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Berlin, Stuttgart, Herrenberg, Dresden and Munich.  I'm not worried about running out of destinations because there are lots of other places which are still on my list such as Hamburg, Cologne, Hannover, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Rostock, and Leipzig.  So I might as well give a little information about the Federal Republic of Germany.

After the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII, the country was split in to four zones.  The eastern part of the country was occupied by the Soviets and the western section was occupied by the American, British and French armies.  Berlin, deep inside of East Germany, was also split in to four zones.  The Berlin Wall eventually divided the city in half.  It was a symbol of the Cold War between West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany) and communist East Germany (the German Democratic Republic).

West Germany was about the size of Oregon and developed quickly after the war thanks to American aid.  The country industrialized rapidly, developed a market economy and became a member of the EU and NATO.  East Germany became a staunch ally of the Soviet Union.  East Germans lived under the watchful eye of the Stasi – the secret police.

With the fall of communism in Europe in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and everything opened up.  There was a fast move towards German reunification.  However, countries like France and Poland were nervous about a unified Germany.  You can't really blame them given WWI and WWII.

In 1990, East Germans voted to dissolve their country and join West Germany.  Reunification Day was October 3, 1990.  In 1994, the capital was moved from Bonn back to Berlin.  Today, Germany is a bit smaller than Montana and with 81.8 million people, it has the second-largest population in Europe after Russia.  German is the official language.  Economically, Germany is a rock star.  It is the second-largest exporter and third-largest importer of goods in the world.  With the strongest economy in Europe, it is doing everything it can to help keep the Euro afloat. 

There are still economic differences between the western and eastern parts of the country.  The east tends to be poorer and unemployment is much higher.  The west had to pour a lot of money in to the east in order to revitalize the area after 40 years of socialist central planning.  The east still gets quite a bit of subsidies from the government which does generate some resentment between the Westies and the Osties.


Here's a video I found out on YouTube which talks about how Germany became the strongest economy in Europe.  I'll be honest, the USA could take a few economic lessons from Germany.


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