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Similarly, there was no question of an independent judicial system; judges had to advance party policy in their particular sphere. If one adds the mass media to the list of controlled organisations, then it becomes obvious that the system of government in the GDR bore no resemblance to the ideal of the pluralistic democratic society as propounded and practised with various degrees of im perfection in the western world. It is not difficult to show that the SED exercised supreme power in the GDR or even embodied the GDR; it did not conceal this fact itself, even if it presented itself as the party of the working class and the guardian of its interests.
What is clear, is that by the majority of the people saw things differently. It is therefore necessary to ask what was the true nature of SED power. Two points should be made initially. In a sense this axiom remained true to the end, although on the surface Gorbachev no longer sought to intervene in the internal affairs of his nominal allies. The second point has to do with the corruptive nature of power, and especially absolute power, as formulated by Lord Acton.
This corruption was undoubtedly most visible in the role played within GDR society by the State Security Service Staatssicherheitsdienst. Beside this the individual corruption of leading party figures, in particular their life of relative luxury away from the gaze of the people in the enclosed compound at Wandlitz north of Berlin, pales into insignificance. To this end, no effort was spared.
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Anyone who was perceived of as a potential enemy of the system was subject to surveillance at the very least. Even when arbitrary arrest followed by stringent punishment including the death penalty became much more a thing of the past in the s the death penalty was in fact abolished , intimidation did not cease. Although there may have been limits to Stasi power, in that it would have been impossible to take steps against everyone under surveillance, and the plodding diligence revealed in its files may, with hindsight, seem pathetic, it still remains totally impossible to see the exercise of power by the Stasi as anything other than coercive.
Since German unification, it has become clear that the system could not have functioned without the co-operation of large numbers of GDR citizens, put at , in the s, who were willing to act as unofficial informants Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter Weidenfeld and Korte Quite simply, they were unable to exercise civil rights, as these are generally understood. As already stated, voting was a charade, freedom of speech certainly did not extend to the right to criticise the government or party although apparently criticism of immediate superiors generally brought few repercussions and freedom of assembly outside the confines of the church was non-existent.
Another restriction that was felt very keenly was the lack of opportunity to travel abroad beyond the frontiers of allied socialist states, and even here problems with the exchange of currency or, in the case of Poland for a time, fears that the ideas of Solidarity might prove infectious imposed limits. It is true that, apart from those who were willing to risk their lives by crossing the heavily guarded frontiers with West Berlin and the Federal Republic, some GDR citizens could reach the west, as visitors whose numbers increased following the signing of the Grundlagenvertrag with the Federal Republic in and as refugees.
The purchase of disaffected GDR citizens by West Germany became a regular if unwholesome feature of intra-German relations in the s and s, while the GDR itself increasingly saw the expulsion of dissidents, in particular writers and intellectuals, as a way of stemming discontent. Nevertheless, the restrictions on travel imposed on those under the age of retirement remained a major bone of contention for GDR citizens, many of whom claimed that they wanted to prove their loyalty by returning home after any stay in the west.
To sum up: the normal GDR citizen was excluded from political power.
Even membership of the SED did not guarantee influence, given its undemocratic structure. The ordinary member might use membership to further his or her career but otherwise life in the party meant the duties of attending 11 DIVIDED GERMANY meetings and supporting the official political line, as expounded in the press and other media, all of which were subject to strict control.
On coming to power in , Erich Honecker implicitly proposed a kind of pact with the population: the reward for the loss of political rights would be a high material standard of living. That this never materialised, at least not on a comparable level to that attained by the majority in the Federal Republic, can be regarded as the major reason for the failure of the GDR.
Before examining in more detail the reasons for the comparative failure of the GDR economy, it is worth pointing out what can only be regarded as an admission of defeat. Certain items, in particular but not exclusively imports from the west, were frequently only available in a network of shops called Intershop which only accepted convertible western currencies. Since economic advantage lay with the first group, the lesson about the relative standing of the two economic systems practised in Germany could hardly be ignored.
That certain luxury goods were available for GDR marks at highly inflated prices in a chain of shops with the name Exquisit did little to sweeten the pill. It is possible to advance historical and political reasons for the relative failure of the GDR economy. The country lacked major ports until the facilities at Rostock were expanded; the overall infrastructure was based on a united Germany where lines of communication ran from east to west rather than, as the geography of the new state demanded, north to south. In terms of politics, the questions to be considered are whether the GDR economy was the victim of discriminatory policies applied towards it in the west and whether it was exploited by its major ally, the Soviet Union.
It is true that the west sought to prevent the sale of hi-tech goods to the Soviet Union and its allies by the Co-Com Co-ordinating Committee for Strategic Exports to the Communist World system which was based on a list of proscribed exports, efforts the GDR attempted to undermine by covert tactics including industrial espionage. On the other hand, the terms of intra-German trade were favourable to the GDR, which was able to obtain interest-free credit under a system known as Swing. The arrangement mentioned above whereby the Federal Republic bought the release of GDR political prisoners, to whom were added criminals the GDR felt incapable of reforming, also provided the GDR with substantial funds, totalling DM 3.
The population of what became the GDR had to witness the ruthless dismantling of industrial plant in the early postwar years by the Soviet authorities, who sought restitution for the immense damage inflicted on the Soviet Union during the war. However, the Soviet Union helped to sustain its allies by, for instance, selling raw materials at less than world market prices.
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It was only with the explosion of oil and other raw material prices in that prices were linked to those on the world market. The above points show that the GDR did not enter the economic race with the Federal Republic on equal terms; how far this continued to be the case is hard to determine. What cannot be doubted is that the kind of economic policies pursued in the GDR did not help. Economic activity was controlled centrally, with production guided by the dictates of the Economic Plan, whose term was usually five years.
The problems of the planned economy are well known; they include the arbitrary fixing of prices, the inability to react quickly to customer demand and to changed economic circumstances that render the plan obsolete, along with the lack of criteria by which to judge economic performance. The first point can be illustrated by the way that bread was cheaper than grain in the GDR; accordingly it was frequently fed to poultry with all the waste of effort that involved.
The question of criteria can be illustrated by reference to a phenomenon referred to as Tonnenideologie tonnage ideology. There were many stories in the early years of the GDR of managers only thinking of the numbers of goods produced, as this was the yardstick by which success was measured within the planned economy.
Accordingly it was better to make, for example, large numbers of small-sized shoes than a smaller number in a variety of sizes. The consequences for those with bigger feet are obvious. Even if such tales are partly apocryphal, they illustrate a major point: that the GDR was not able to give consumers what they wanted when they wanted it.
The other point to stress is that the overall direction of the economic policies of the GDR was inappropriate. In accordance with the Soviet model of the time, the initial concern was to develop heavy industry rather than produce consumer goods which only became more of a priority in the Honecker years. Although at various times consideration was given to allowing individual enterprises more freedom of action, particularly with the New Economic System announced in , nobody could escape the dictates of the central plan. As in politics, control rather than trust was the order of the day.
This was amply illustrated by the reversing in of the movement towards decentralisation that was part of the New Economic System. The economic system affected the citizens of the GDR in a variety of ways. The workplace was generally free from stress, as shortages of materials frequently limited the time that was productively occupied. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was reported that building workers who moved west were amazed that there could be deliveries of materials in the afternoon and that nearly all the working day was spent actually working.
Those employed in the service industries often only carried out their tasks when they felt motivated to do so. This anecdote implies the situation of the GDR citizen as consumer. It was accepted as normal that goods might not be available. Although the overall supply improved over the years, it is doubtful whether at any time it came close to matching demand. It certainly did not in the case of motor vehicles where a waiting period as long as fifteen years for a new car was possible.
It was not that consumers lacked money—the average amount of savings was high—it was rather that there were not enough goods to spend it on. This was the case, even though the price of most goods, with the exception of highly subsidised basic items and services the case of bread has already been alluded to was comparatively high, particularly when wages were taken into consideration. Although western inflation— inflation did not exist, at least officially, in the GDR—may have eroded the gap over the next decade, it always remained significant.
In many areas, too, the equivalent western product was of a higher standard; one needs only compare a Volkswagen with a Trabant, the noisy and polluting but robust vehicle that became known throughout Europe in as GDR citizens moved west. There is one other area connected with the economy that should be mentioned as having a direct effect on many GDR citizens, namely the environmental consequences of the economic policies pursued. Whatever economic progress was achieved in the GDR was frequently at the cost of a hideously damaged environment.summit.vvinners.com/bonac-bates-gua-a.php
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The chemical town of Bitterfeld, for example, was associated with some of the worst pollution in Europe. The GDR sought to present itself as a modern industrialised country, not least with the aid of falsified statistics. Their superiors were only too happy to receive good news and pass on the message that the plan was being fulfilled until it reached the top. It would be wrong to say that in this case the emperor had no clothes; it would be more accurate to speak of limited low quality clothes. As a producer, the GDR citizen may not have suffered extreme exploitation, unless working in particularly unhealthy surroundings.
However, as a consumer, he or she was likely to suffer extreme frustration, not least waiting to be served or even allowed to sit down in a less than busy restaurant where the staff had other priorities. Some of these alleged achievements had to do directly with economic policy and have been hinted at above. The shortage of labour, occasioned in part by the loss of population in the war and the flow of refugees prior to the building of the Berlin Wall, together with the prevailing ideology meant that the GDR enjoyed full employment. Although this fact should not be overlooked, it did not mean, as has been shown, that all were sensibly occupied.
Incidentally, those employed by the police, army and Stasi might also have come into the category of not being usefully employed. That cheap prices too had certain drawbacks has already been hinted at. This was arguably most obvious in areas relating to housing. Heating, light and water were supplied so cheaply that energy conservation was not an issue—excessive heat in a building generally would be countered by opening a window rather than switching something off. As rents were kept at prewar levels in the case of older housing, there was no incentive nor possibility for owners to carry out improvements.
The result was all too often a depressingly run-down townscape that was as much a reminder of the problems of the system as the polluted environment. Ironically, given the nature of the political system, many properties remained in private hands, as the state had no interest in taking over items that would only cause it expense. In the case of new housing, a priority in the Honecker era, monotonous blocks constructed from prefabricated materials at the lowest possible cost predominated.
Even though, as is now known, some within the SED argued for increased rents in the interests of quality, the same rigid policies continued to be pursued in this as in so many areas. It goes without saying that the achievements of a country rest on more than economic performance. It is also necessary to consider other areas, such as social, educational and cultural policy.
In all these the GDR claimed major successes. In the sphere of social policy there is no doubt that a welfare state existed so that, for instance, nobody was faced with economic ruin as a result of illness. On the other hand, the level of provision was sometimes low, not least in the case of old-age pensions, the basic level of which were just about sufficient for basic survival.
Health care showed a mixed pattern. Here there were undoubtedly major achievements, such as low infant mortality, while the system of out-patient care at Poliklinken functioned reasonably well; on the other hand, many hospitals were ill-equipped by modern standards. Education was one area in which the GDR received a great deal of recognition. As in the case of social welfare, the GDR did provide a blanket state system for all: the unified socialist system of education Einheitliches sozialistisches Bildungssystem.
Provision started with creches for the very young, something that allowed women to return to work relatively quickly, through kindergartens to a basic ten-year school system, after which the majority went into vocational training and a minority continued at school to prepare themselves for higher education. This system had both strengths and weaknesses.
On the one hand, all were catered for so that qualifications were almost universally achieved; on the other hand, the system was entirely attuned to perceived economic needs with the inevitable consequence of rigidity. This meant personal hardship for those individuals who were unable to pursue their preferred educational path, something which was particularly visible at the level of higher education. Since it was felt that only a certain number of graduates were required in any given area, selection tended to be rigorous and based on more than academic criteria.
Indeed the increasing militarisation of the whole education system, indicted by the author Reiner Kunze in his book Die wunderbaren Jahre The Wonderful Years ,6 led to protests by the church following the introduction of a school subject entitled military education Wehrerziehung. This example underlines the major problem of the GDR education system—the way it was permeated by ideology. Clearly, this was most noticeable in such areas as history and literature, but the central control of syllabuses and textbooks was felt in all areas.
At the same time he hedged his bets by saying that art had to remain socialist. In fact, from the late s onwards, starting with the celebrated case of the poet and singer Wolf Biermann, the expulsion of dissident artists to the west, many of whom left reluctantly because their ideal was reform of the GDR from within, became a feature of GDR cultural life.
In that it did not lack talented artists, the GDR can be said to have achieved its cultural aims; however, the most creative ones tended to have the most difficulties with the authorities. It must also be borne in mind that everything printed in the GDR, even the labels on consumer goods, had to go through the censorship process. What this said about the works of writers such as Christa Wolf, Christoph Hein and Volker Braun became a major subject of controversy following the collapse of the GDR, a topic that will be dealt with in Chapter 9.
At this point, it is sufficient to draw attention to the parameters imposed on artistic activities. Finally, in this section I will examine the position of women in the GDR, specifically the claim that in the GDR women enjoyed equality and emancipation. It is undoubtedly true that the workplace was as open to women as to men and that women were to some extent represented in areas that might still be seen in many countries as male preserves. However, women continued to dominate the traditional areas of female employment such as retailing and service industries generally.
Equally, female participation in political and other areas of public life was a policy priority. However positive these developments were, it is necessary to ask whether women achieved true positions of power in society and whether they suffered from the dual burden of having to work and look after a home. In the case of the upper echelons of political power, the answer is not particularly positive, with one of the few women to achieve power at the highest level being Margot Honecker, the wife of the party leader and an extremely dogmatic minister for education.
Women were better represented at other levels, achieving between 30 and 40 per cent of seats in the various local, regional and national parliaments in the s. The burdens placed on working women are common to all kinds of societies. Attempts to make GDR men share domestic duties more equitably do not seem to have been particularly successful; the ideal of a socialist marriage did not prevent divorce rates that compared with those in capitalist countries.
The lot of GDR women may have been harder because of the difficulties resulting from shortages that meant that more time was spent shopping. On the other hand, social provisions, the financial support given to women for twelve months following the birth of a child Babyjahr and the monthly free day given to women for domestic duties Haushaltstag provided significant help. Women were also able to control their fertility, particularly after the granting of abortion rights in , the only worthwhile achievement of the GDR for Monika Maron That the birthrate was generally low suggests that, despite the help afforded to mothers and families, having children put a strain on GDR women.
In this respect, the situation did not differ much from that in the Federal Republic. Nevertheless significant differences from the other German state must be noted. Female participation in all areas of society was encouraged, rather than being merely accepted, in many cases after long struggles. That this occurred partly because of economic necessity rather than simply as a result of idealism does not alter the fact that it happened. The only proviso that has to made is that emancipation was restricted by the limits placed on individuals by the overall political and economic system of the GDR.
This is the major point that has to be borne in mind in any consideration of the achievements of the GDR. To an extent this is true of any society, although dreams of riches and travel can alleviate grinding reality for those who lack privilege or the ability to exploit the prevailing economic system.
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In the GDR, it was largely impossible to sink; it was equally impossible for the overwhelming majority to rise, whatever their talents, beyond a modest level of comfort within the frontiers of the one small state. This section has sought to show the balance between certain claimed achievements and their limitations.
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It would be ludicrous to suggest that there were no achievements or that life was universally not worth living. Even where the realms of politics and economics brought frustration to the majority, the private sphere could provide personal happiness, although post-unification attempts to conjure up the idyll of a society dominated at a personal level by human warmth that was destroyed by the events of —90 have to be taken with a pinch of salt, given that the human communities referred to might have included a Stasi spy who passed on intimate details of friends or even family members to the state.
One example is that of the civil rights activist Vera Lengsfeld formerly Wollenberger , a member of parliament since , who was informed on by her husband. In fact, the state frequently cast a dark shadow over nearly all aspects of life in the GDR. Even where there appeared to be success, as in the field of sport, there was a price to pay—in this case the widespread use of drugs.
All too frequently it proved impossible to square the circle: to have, for instance, full employment and productive work, cheap rents and adequate housing. What such a conclusion does not mean is that all the efforts and achievements of individual GDR citizens are to be regarded as worthless. The whole question of the relationship between the GDR and its citizens is extremely complex and does not allow for easy categorisation, which either regards the majority as the hapless victims of an evil system or castigates it for acquiescing in its own oppression.
The accusation that most people in the GDR failed to resist political tyranny has frequently been heard since German unification. The implication is that there is a parallel between the behaviour of the majority in the Nazi era and in the GDR. Such a comparison is extremely dubious in as far as it fails to distinguish the two regimes. Whatever its failings, the GDR did not pursue genocide or total war, nor did its leaders fight to the bitter end. The GDR always represented itself as the embodiment of a better Germany, that is to say as an alternative to the unhappy tradition that dominated German history between and , and which appeared still to be alive in the Federal Republic where former National Socialists continued to enjoy positions of power in economic and political life.
The difficult, if not impossible, question is how quickly it should have been realised that the GDR did not represent an alternative, was not the country where an ideal of democratic socialism could be realised. This kind of dogmatism, which even led to the banning of reformist Soviet publications in the s, helped to destroy any idealism there was left, particularly among young people and intellectuals who might still have harboured the hope of reform.
If it is possible to feel understanding and sympathy for those who nourished the ultimately vain hope of reforming the GDR and in many cases took personal risks in the pursuit of their ideal, what is the appropriate attitude to adopt to those who, despite their dissatisfaction, remained outwardly loyal to the state? On the other hand, the impossibility of overturning the system as long as the Soviet Union wished to maintain it was plain to see.
The suppression of protest in the GDR itself in by Soviet troops, and subsequently in Hungary in and Czechoslovakia in , showed the limits of protest. Even in Poland, where mass opposition to the system became visible for all to see with the creation of Solidarity, the form of government could not be changed without Soviet consent.
Some degree of acceptance of the inevitable was therefore essential for all but the brave few who were willing to suffer imprisonment for their convictions. Even these were faced with a dilemma: protest might lead to expulsion to the Federal Republic, which was not a solution for those who wanted to reform the GDR. It is of course possible to argue about the degree of acceptance or compromise.
An obvious distinction might seem to be between those who worked directly and enthusiastically within official organisations such as the Stasi, and those who went about their daily business and restricted shows of loyalty to voting and taking part in obligatory parades. The problem with such a distinction is that the influence of the state extended into so many areas: a teacher, for instance, was in most cases not able merely to impart objective knowledge but, as mentioned above, had to teach a curriculum that reflected official ideology.
Nevertheless, moral absolutes that would condemn all teachers on the basis of some degree of compromise with the system seem extremely harsh. It is clearly necessary to differentiate between subjects, and even in areas such as history it is known that some teachers were less than rigid.
The arguments become even more complicated when the position of those who sought to help fellow citizens at odds with the authorities is considered. In this capacity he inevitably had to deal with the authorities, in particular the Stasi, when, for example, he intervened on behalf of people wishing to leave the GDR. Now the question being asked is whether contact became cooperation, or even collaboration to the point of becoming an Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter who put the interests of the Stasi above those of the church and those he was supposedly helping.
It is not the details of this individual case that matter here. What it illustrates is the difficulty or rather impossibility of making generalised judgements about the behaviour of GDR citizens. Given the coercive and all-pervading nature of the system, it is wise to speak of guilt or moral failure only in those cases where the actions of individuals harmed others.
Otherwise an appreciation of the difficulties faced by GDR citizens is more appropriate. Some of these difficulties have already been alluded to. There were the material difficulties brought about by an inflexible economy incapable of satisfying more than basic needs and the nonmaterial ones that resulted from a rigid ideology that affected so many areas of life. It is no wonder that, with the fall of the Wall, the majority of GDR citizens sought salvation from what seemed the promised land of the Federal Republic, known to some degree from the watching of western television but distant enough to be lent considerable enchantment.
Few were in a mood to follow the cries for a reformed GDR that emanated from those who, particularly to outsiders, enjoyed moral authority because of their history of protest. For most insiders, whose major priority was to share in western prosperity, they were or became, as the influence of the Federal Republic grew, other-worldly idealists who wanted to indulge in another experiment comparable to the one that had gone so wrong over the previous forty years.
Given that undoubted failure, the only possible conclusion is that the GDR, in the form that it existed, deserved to disappear from the political map. The implication of this title is that the Federal Republic of Germany, as constituted in with Bonn as its capital, had attained the stability that had been denied to the post Weimar Republic. Cynics might argue that it had little competition, given its historical predecessors; nevertheless, this chapter hopes to show that the Federal Republic of to , if not utopia, was a highly successful state and, as the s slogan of the then ruling SPD, Modell Deutschland, implied, in many ways exemplary.
Political life in the Weimar period had been marked by a plethora of unstable coalitions and a series of inconclusive general elections, particularly in its last years. There were general elections in , and twice in , a year which also saw a presidential election. Another problem of the Weimar system was that executive power was split between the Chancellor and the President, who was able to assume almost dictatorial powers by virtue of Article 48 of the constitution which allowed him to issue emergency decrees.
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The use of these powers by President Hindenburg in the last years before the Nazi takeover, when successive governments were unable to command, and unwilling to seek, a parliamentary majority, certainly played a part in undermining Weimar democracy. By contrast, the constitution of the Federal Republic—the Grundgesetz—sought to avoid these weaknesses. Executive power was placed firmly in the hands of the Federal Chancellor Bundeskanzler , who occupies a position comparable to that, for example, of a British Prime Minister.
One of the few exceptions to this state of affairs is the power of the Federal President to dissolve the lower house of parliament Bundestag before the end of the fixed four-year legislative period, which was also introduced to avoid the political instability caused by frequent elections, if the government has lost a vote of confidence and the Bundeskanzler requests such a dissolution. It was through such a vote that Helmut Kohl gained power in , the only example of its being employed successfully at federal level.
Article 21 of the Basic Law requires that political parties should embrace the democratic principles of the constitution or face prohibition by the Federal Constitutional Court Bundesverfassungsgericht , a fate that befell two parties in the s. One of these—KPD—had had seats in the Bundestag from to The neo-Nazi Sozialistische Reichspartei was proscribed in , and in the same fate befell the KPD, which, in the eyes of some, not only threatened the democracy of Bonn but had also contributed to the collapse of Weimar through its rejection of parliamentary democracy.
However important these structures may be, they are not sufficient to explain the political success of the Federal Republic. Desperadoes like Hitler are hardly likely to be deterred by constitutional niceties. Any consideration of the success of the Federal Republic must pay attention to the processes by which such success was achieved. As was pointed out in the previous chapter, the Federal Republic was as much an artificial creation as the GDR. The population was never asked to agree to its creation, nor was the Grundgesetz submitted for popular approval. Indeed, it can be and has been described as a constitution that reflects distrust of popular opinion because of the constraints it puts on political activity, some of which have been mentioned above and to which might be added the more or less complete absence of provision for referenda, a form of political participation possible in the Weimar system.
At the time of its inception, this was most probably justified, given recent history. Surveys taken in the early years of the Federal Republic suggest a lack of interest in all aspects of politics and specifically a lack of enthusiasm for democracy, to which the authoritarian style of the first Federal Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, might well have contributed.
Once more it is useful to make a comparison with the ill-fated Weimar Republic. Without the worldwide economic crisis or Great Depression following the collapse of the Wall Street Stock Exchange in it is unlikely that Hitler would have come to power. By contrast, the Federal Republic was born into an era of economic prosperity when developed countries were recovering from the ravages of the Second World War. Subsequent economic crises have not had the same political effects, although it probably remains the case that Germans continue to judge their political system by its success, not least in the area of economics.
Notwithstanding the opportunities presented to all developed economies during the postwar years, the success of the economy of the Federal Republic remains remarkable. In the s, the economy grew by an average of 8 per cent annually and by 4 per cent in the following decade. Over roughly the same period unemployment dropped from over 1. Even if not all sections of the community benefited equally, the growth in average monthly incomes from DM to DM between and was enough to give most citizens a sense of economic well-being. There growth and lower unemployment have generally been accompanied by inflation and balance of payments problems.
Efforts to cure these have in turn led to higher unemployment and lower growth. By contrast, between and the Federal Republic did not experience inflation above 7. Why has the German economy tended to perform so well? In seeking answers many factors have to be borne in mind, although it will only be possible here to refer in general terms to those that have widely been seen as contributing to the economic success of the Federal Republic between and The new Federal Republic adopted an economic system known as soziale Marktwirtschaft social market economy.
The adoption of a market economy on the western model, as opposed to the dead hand of the planned economy as introduced in the GDR, provided the basis for progress; what was peculiar to the Federal Republic, however, were the features that became associated with the adjective sozial. It is important to differentiate between the social and the free market economy in which state intervention is reduced to an absolute minimum.
The role of the state in the German model was at least twofold: first, to regulate the market so that optimum conditions for competition and individual enterprise were maintained and not thwarted by the growth of monopolies and cartels; and second, to ensure a social welfare system for those who might have fallen by the wayside in a totally free market system. Soziale Marktwirtschaft can thus be seen as an attempt to balance different interests, to create a climate of co-operation rather than confrontation. This aspect of co-operation is underlined by other features of the economic order of the Federal Republic: partnership or codetermination in industry and the role of the trade unions.
Subsequently, employees acquired the right of Mitbestimmung in other industries, although not to the extent of full parity, and rights to be consulted at plant level, for instance over working hours, through a works council Betriebsrat in firms above a certain size. How far these measures represent true industrial democracy is a subject of debate; it is certainly true that the significance of employee influence in the coal and steel sectors declined along with that particular industrial sector.
What cannot be doubted is that these systems of codetermination were part of an economic framework that set great store by co-operation. This was even reflected at a linguistic level, with employers and employees referred to as Sozialpartner, a term that could hardly have been used in Great Britain during the s and s, given the frequently fractious behaviour of what were, probably correctly, described as the two sides of industry.
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The stability and normality of the Federal Republic and its position in world affairs is assessed. The book aims to provide the background to contemporary Germany required for students of modern languages, or those courses containing an element of German studies. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x Review quote 'An excellent, concise analysis of the main features of the political, economic and cultural aspects of a changing Germany in a changing Europe. It is well worth considering for any "German Studies" curriculum.
The book includes a useful chronical of political events and a glossary and will provide a reliable guide to the many undergraduates who will doubtless use it.