At the beginning of 1950 the French premier Schuman visited Bonn, then Berlin, Adenauer’s guest. A “pool” of coal and steel was agreed among them.
The events of Korea suggested to Britain and the United States an immediate rearmament of Europe, and therefore they had to stop the demolition of the heavy industry plants and guarantee its safety to West Germany. On 16 March 1951 his sovereignty in foreign relations and legislative activities was partially restored for West Germany. In April of the same year she was admitted to the Council of Europe, in the presence of a debate on her rearmament, strongly opposed. In July, once the “Status Belli” with Italy, the United States, Great Britain and France was definitively closed, an Allied Commission decided to reduce the limitations and controls on production, in view of the function of West Germany in defense of the ‘West.
Then, in March 1952, the Soviet Union proposed a 4-way conference to discuss:
– territorial unification;
– eviction of allied occupation forces;
– democratic constitution;
– borders agreed to Potsdam in 1945;
– amnesty in favor of the ex-Nazis.
According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Germany, the 4 powers, after endless discussions, submitted to the signing of West Germany a provisional treaty, or “Peace Treaty” which provided for the granting of limited sovereignty, military occupation remained, but West Germany was admitted to NATO. Approval came only in May 1953, while the political elections reconfirmed the Adenauer government and the exchanges experienced intense rhythms, thanks to the reforming work carried out by Minister Erard.
In the difficult post-war period, Adenauer’s policy was aimed above all at reaching a reunified Germany, through the most heartfelt Europeanism. For this reason, it had close and continuous commercial and political relations with all the countries of Europe, especially with France, as evidenced by the frequent meetings between De Gaulle and Adenauer. In December 1955, the mutual recognition of the governments of Bonn and Moscow, but not of Berlin, took place, justified by the Chancellor as an indispensable step to obtain the return home of all the German prisoners still present in the Soviet Union. Relations with Poland also improved in 1956, especially when Gomulka, head of the Polish government, allowed the first anti-Soviet demonstrations in the country.
August 13, 1961 was an inauspicious day for the two Germanies: it was that of the construction of the sadly famous “Berlin wall”. And this event completely dismantled Adenauer’s policy which until then had been based on the incontrovertible awareness that the two Germanies would soon be reunited. His credibility was canceled and then the qualities of a true great statesman of W. Brandt emerged, a Social Democratic candidate for the Chancellery.
Despite the loss of assent, Adenauer remained in the Chancellery but was forced to form a coalition government with the liberals. In October 1963 there was a change at the Chancellery, the atlantist L. Erhard went up there and Mende was vice-chancellor, Schroder was foreign minister. There was also a clear revival of inter-German relations. But then due to various internal disputes within the majority, the Erhard-Mende government weakened and with the recession of 1966, following yet another conflict with the other parties, the liberals left the government. On December 1, the so-called “Great Coalition” government was formed, Democrat Kiesinger, vice-chancellor and foreign minister W. Brandt and defense minister Schroder, formed. This government set itself as primary objectives the recovery of the economy with a decrease in unemployment and the improvement of relations with the German Democratic Republic and with the Soviet Union. The former was pursued positively, the latter instead worsened.
This “Grand Coalition” presented itself in the 1969 elections with serious disagreements between parties due to foreign policy. Federal President was the Social Democrat Heinemann. The liberals were clearly beaten but had the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Interior and Agriculture. Chancellor was Brandt. Talks with Moscow began immediately to reach important agreements, including one on the topic of non-proliferation and on the stabilization of the borders with Poland.
In March 1970 negotiations between the 4 major powers on the Berlin problem were opened.
For internal politics, government action aimed at reforming and modernizing structures was also important, also creating wider cooperation between the past generation and that of young people. There was also talk about the opportunity to grant voting rights to eighteen-year-olds. All this to further stabilize national security and citizens’ rights.
In November 1972, early elections awarded the majority to the Social Democrats but the liberals took a good step forward. Brandt’s leadership, meanwhile, was deteriorating due to the lack of reforms, the weakness of the government and gradually developed even after the discovery of an East German spy right within the Chancellery. And in May 1974 Brandt was replaced by H. Schmidt, who repeated the coalition with the liberals, and federal president was Genscher.
This combination worked hard and managed to bring Germany to a higher economic and social level. And in the 1976 elections it still gained a majority, albeit limited.
In the framework of foreign policy, the Federal Republic of Germany was always a continuation of the Atlantic line, alongside the United States, Great Britain and France. One of the major merits of Schmidt turned out to be, always with a closer Franco-German collaboration, the establishment of the European Monetary Snake which created an area of stability and security around the mark. But this did not bring enthusiasm in the citizenship which in the direct European elections of 1984 showed little interest and very little presence.
But to return to internal politics, there were strong contrasts between the ruling party and the chancellor until the arrival of a crisis, linked to that of oil, which in 1981 saw unemployment reach one million units. In the same year there had been a building scandal which had led to early elections. Social democracy fell sharply, dragging liberals in the same direction. On October 1, 1982, Kohl won the chancellorship with the proposal for a Christian-liberal union. In March 1983 the reigning government was reconfirmed and there was a noticeable drop in the Social Democrats.
Kohl’s policy was inspired by a line of continuity towards the United States and France; with the latter he founded a Franco-German Defense Council in 1988 at the same time as a mixed Franco-German brigade for space cooperation. The highlights of the agreements were the creation of the Single Market in 1992 and the prospect of the European Union. Greater commitments were made with Italy and with the Mediterranean area.
But Kohl’s most important and continuous political work was his commitment to financially help the German Democratic Republic, in order to ensure humanitarian improvements in favor of his brothers who are still divided.
And with positive factors coming from the international economy, one of the longest-lasting “booms” in the history of Germany occurred in the 1990s.
Towards the end of 1989, however, there were unrest due to the massive immigration not only of the East Germans, but also of the Turks and representatives of the Third World. And these riots were the work of the “Republikaner”, a small movement of the extreme right, dissident and xenophobic. These also collected a certain number of votes in the elections for the European Parliament, in which they had six seats. They then ended in 1990 to be downsized and their challenges to the centrist political system of the Federal Republic of Germany ceased.
On 11 January 1949 Poland was able to annex the former German territories assigned by the Potsdam treaty. On 11 October the same year the communist Guglielmo Pieck and the Prime Minister Otto Grotewahl, unitary socialist, were acclaimed President of the German Democratic Republic.
Under the control of the Soviet Union, “Land and Sea Police Forces” were organized in East Germany. Political elections took place on 15 October, won by the Communists.
From 20 to 28 February 1951 Berlin hosted the World Council of the Partisans of Peace and from 5 to 19 August the Communist Youth Festival.
Pro-unity demonstrations remained active and in 1952 there were strong reactions to the presentation of the “Peace Contract”, which was certainly believed to be aimed at keeping the two Germanies divided. In 1953 the Soviet Control Commission was dissolved and was replaced by a High Commissioner. Meanwhile, economic difficulties proliferated due to the impossibility of realizing a grandiose production plan in the midst of the pile of rubble and a frightening overpopulation.
Also in 1953 violent worker rebellions took place, both in Berlin and in other large centers, severely repressed. However, serious measures were also taken to improve the living conditions of the people. Meanwhile, on 7 October Wilhelm Pieck was re-elected President of the Republic.
On March 25, 1954, Moscow officially recognized the German Democratic Republic as a sovereign state and on April 14, 1955, with the signing of the Warsaw Pact, he joined the Soviet bloc as an eighth member of equal rights.
A seven-year production plan was launched for the realization of which the Democratic Republic had considerable allocations from Moscow. In 1957 he re-established diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia.
In October 1959, regarding the reunification of the two Germanies, he proposed two commissions with equal prerogatives to start negotiations and in this sector he always kept in line with Soviet directives. But it also started commercial and cultural relations with countries outside the Soviet bloc, such as Egypt, India, Burma, Syria and many others.
Furthermore, the creation of the “wall” had interrupted the escape of many young and skilled technicians in the western part and with this it had been able to give a good boost to production. So there were good results in every sector of the economy. Education was also taken care of and gradually over time the Democratic Republic reached a good standard of living.
Meanwhile, after Pieck’s death in 1960, a substantial reform had occurred in the running of the government. The Presidency of the Republic had been abolished and a Council of State was established, chaired by Ulbricht. Relations with the Soviet Union were gradually closer so that in 1966 the Democratic Republic had become the most important trading partner. But as far as foreign policy was concerned, no important objectives were achieved. As a sovereign state it was recognized only by Yugoslavia and Castro’s Cuba. However, after 1969, after the recognition by Cambodia, that of the Arab states also came. Despite the strict alignment with Soviet politics, however, there was a certain social-liberal movement sympathetic to West Germany.
Ulbricht was considered too weak to lead the state, then he was dismissed and E. Honecker arrived in his place, who immediately brought back the policy on the Soviet tracks.
In 1973 they also arrived: recognition by Great Britain and France, admission to the United Nations and in 1974 recognition of the United States.
In 1981, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Poland, Honecker made a brief mention of the possible reunification of the two Germanies in a “community of reason”. In 1983/84 a compromise was established with Bonn for the introduction of valuable currency and for the modernization of investments. In return, some inhuman structures built along the “wall”, such as minefields, were dismantled in 1985. And the following year there was a first twinning between the two countries and over one and a half million East Germans obtained permission to visit the west.
In 1987 Honecker went on a diplomatic visit to Bonn himself. The death penalty was abolished, the Church was able to enjoy greater freedom of action, some nucleuses of contestation could also be established, such as feminism and ecology, and travel permits were increased.
In 1989 the most important event in German history was the fall of the “Berlin wall”. Six months later there were free elections that brought democracy back to the country; in 1990 in July a first unification was reached which was economic, the state one took place in October. The regime was unhinged by two particular actions. The first was the flight of Germans en masse to the west, across the borders that Poland had opened with Austria. The second was strong internal opposition to state politics.
Honecker was replaced by Krenz who was dismissed a few months later when the mass demonstrations intensified. During this period Kohl intervened who proposed a ten-point program for achieving unification. This proposal was initially not well received by the Soviet Union, nor by the European Community, nor by Western allies. After some time, however, it seemed the only way to return to the good economy and to prevent the return to the past regime.
Also in 1990, after several talks with Kohl, Gorbachev openly declared that the problem of unification was a prerogative only of the German people; the main obstacle was only to position the new unitary state in an Atlantic-international situation and also so that it did not harm the security of the Soviet Union.
And on March 18, 1990, after almost 50 years of dictatorship, first Nazi and then Communist, the East Germans were able to go to the polls to elect their Parliament. The social democratic line seemed to have a certain prevalence, followed by Christian Democrats and western liberals. And the Christian Democrats, surprisingly, reached an absolute majority.
A coalition government was launched between the three currents, presided over by the Christian Democrat L. de Maziere. His program had three essential points: rapid reunification, democratization and the market economy.
One of the main problems was that of drafting a new Constitution, but given the historical inexperience of the ruling class, it was decided, for the moment, to amend some points of the old Constitution, and go on for some time pending final settlement. And with appropriate modifications came the establishment of administrative, labor and social courts; in the economic field some state institutions were dismantled and other entities privatized; moreover, the right to private property was restored. The monetary unit entered into force in the following July.
Another success for Kohl was with the elections of June 1994 with the achievement of unified Germany’s entry into the European Parliament and then again with the solution of the problem of capital Berlin.
But in the meantime there had been a strong recession and the socio-economic situation had suffered greatly. Sacrifices and austerity measures had been imposed that the unions had accepted. But then in February 1994 the metallurgical unions proclaimed the first strike after 11 years and the workers obtained wage increases and reduced working hours, starting from March 1995.
In April 1996, due to continuing economic difficulties, Kohl announced an austerity program for 1997, including cuts in public spending, reduced labor costs and taxation and harsh social security and health restrictions. No results were obtained and moreover a rift occurred between Kohl and the Federal Bank. And the political elections of 1998 were won by Schroder who formed a coalition government between social democrats and greens who then, in June 1999, at the European elections, did not win consensus.