Germany, 1945-1990: A Parallel History

Germany, 1945-1990: A Parallel History

Germany, 1945-1990: A Parallel History

Germany, 1945-1990: A Parallel History

Synopsis

This book offers lively description and convincing interpretation of the most significant events, cruces and ongoing themes in German history from the end of the Second World War up to the present. The chronologies that accompany each chapter record the most important dates, facts and names occurring in the narrative. Jurgen Weber's text supplies the reader with a combination of vivid descriptive history, easily absorbed chronology, and a reliable reference work for the parallel lives of the two Germanies, a product of the Cold War. Weber describes in a clear and reader-friendly manner the history of Germany since 1945. The narrative begins with the period of the allied occupation and progresses through the diverse developments in East and West Germany up to the Federal Republic of today. The most important events, cruces and ongoing themes of the last fifty years are not only succinctly and vividly presented and interpreted, they are also placed in the context of international political developments. Each chapter is accompanied by a chronology featuring the most significant dates and facts relating to the period it covers. The last chapter gives a summary of what happened after 1990 and on present and future political problems of German reunification.

Excerpt

The "total war", to which Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister, had exhorted the German people in February 1944, led to a military, political and moral catastrophe that was unique in German history, and which ended in May 1945 in the complete defeat of the Third Reich. As state, as a nation, as a people and as a functioning economy, Germany appeared to be at an end.

By an enormous effort of will and the huge application of resources the United States of America, the Soviet Union and Great Britain had overcome Hitler's totalitarian regime, which latterly was facing fifty-one states that had declared war against it. For six years the world had been a conflagration, acts of cruelty had been done in the name of duty, the primary aim of the state had become the destruction of the enemy, modern war technology had developed an unprecedented capacity for destruction affecting the civil population even more harshly than the military, and the life of the individual had counted for little.

The audit of horror

Large swathes of Europe had been devastated and Germany lay in ruins. the loss of human life was unimaginable. Realistic estimates of the victims of Hitler's policies that led to the Second World War put the figure at more than 55 million dead over the whole world. More than half of these were accounted for by the Soviet Union.

Six million people were killed under Nazi rule solely because of their Jewish origin. This monstrous policy, carried out by special commando groups and in vast liquidation camps, shocked the entire world. the name of Germany was uttered only with contempt.

During the war, nearly six million Poles lost their lives and about seven million Germans, of which half a million were the victims of air raids, one million were soldiers who died in Soviet prison camps and an estimated two million died as refugees when driven from their homeland. the dead also included hundreds of thousands of Americans, French and British. To this may be added around 35 million people worldwide who were disabled by the war—in Germany alone, there were two and a half million seriously disabled. Finally the lamentable figure for war victims should include millions . . .

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