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'An economic giant but a political dwarf': Is this a fair assessment of Germany in the period 1949 - 1990?

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Introduction

GERMAN GOVERNMENT 00EUB307 'An economic giant but a political dwarf': Is this a fair assessment of Germany in the period 1949 - 1990? If we look at Germany in the present day, is it fair to say that as a nation, it is one of the most powerful economic forces in the world. However, behind this economic prowess exists an unstable and often troubled political background. Germany's economy has traced a zigzag passage across this century and since the first draft of the Basic Law in May 1949, politics has trod this same uneven path up to and passed Germany's reunification in 1990. Whether Germany can be considered an economic giant but political dwarf is a matter of interpretation of the historical events. The division of Germany was a permanent reminder, to its people and the rest of the world, of World War II (WWII) and the Nazi influence throughout the country. At the time, a peace treaty could not be signed and occupation troops often were evident because of the history. The presence of the troops from two superpowers on the soil of this once aggressive power made the division of Germany a matter of assurance and of danger to neighbouring nations. ...read more.

Middle

The French and the Poles were assured that as long as Germany was divided and occupied by the major powers, it could not be a threat. The nightmares of occupation experienced by the Soviets seemed allayed by the establishment of a Soviet-oriented Germany. Even the British, Dutch and Czechs found it easy to snub a Germany denied both unity and full sovereignty. Due to the obvious historical barriers towards Germany, their pro-European integration illustrates the idea of the 'little brother' syndrome. It was if Germany was trying to repair the damage of the years of war by its European policies. Konrad Adenauer was one of the founding fathers of the Schuman Declaration in 1950 that lead to the Treaty of Paris in 1951 and the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It was the signing of this treaty by the six members, one of them being West Germany, that stimulated a series of events resulting in the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC). However, if we look closer at the 1949 negotiations, we see that this 'little brother' idea is, in fact, further from the truth than one would imagine. ...read more.

Conclusion

For a country that historical has bred such malevolence, their European policies have influenced and shaped the European Union into the institution that it is today. Another side to the argument is that Germany has not necessarily exerted political influence but it has caused many a confrontation over the correct policies to adopt. What is meant by this is that Germany has been the root of many an argument or sticking point between the superpowers that found themselves in control of certain parts of the country in the post-WWII period. The stature of the political prowess of Germany is not the only area of contention that the original statement illustrates. Germany experienced an economic boom that catapulted it into the world arena during the 1950s and 1960s. This renown was threatened by the implication of reunification in 1990 and could have caused Germany to falter as a world power. However, looking at the world economy in its present state, we can see that these fears were ill founded and at the moment, Germany can be considered as one of the world most powerful economic nations. Overall, one can agree with the statement if you consider the dwarf-like nature of Germany's politics only as such due to the immensity of the economy. However, German politics can be said to possess more power than the majority of the European people would imagine. ...read more.

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