The Colossus Again: Western Germany from Defeat to Rearmament

The Colossus Again: Western Germany from Defeat to Rearmament

The Colossus Again: Western Germany from Defeat to Rearmament

The Colossus Again: Western Germany from Defeat to Rearmament

Excerpt

There is no lack of books about Germany, and the best of them give a satisfactory account of many of the elements of the contemporary German situation. It is not, therefore, our purpose to offer another historical explanation of present-day Germany. What seems to be needed is a general account of her most recent development and an analysis of her most immediate problems.

Can such a task be performed with any exactitude? A contemporary study of any country is always difficult, because the lack of perspective distorts our understanding and judgment. Much of the available information is fragmentary, much of it inaccessible, and yet concerning any particular issue there is so much information extant that precise conclusions are impossible. But in a study of Germany the main difficulty lies elsewhere, in the fact that international affairs and German affairs are inextricably involved together; Germany's internal affairs having been determined equally by the Germans themselves and by the occupying powers, whose influence was felt in minor as well as major developments. Moreover, the collapse and chaos in 1945 caused a far profounder rupture than, for example, the period of the liberation in France. There was, at least in appearance, a total economic, political, and social breakdown; though the speed of recovery in certain directions is now showing that some of the disruption was only superficial and could be made good through the action of forces which have remained intact and whose permanence we must try to account for. There is in Germany, much more than in any other nation, an unanalysable interdependence between the phenomena to be explained. A psychological situation requires to be interpreted through economic data which are themselves determined by a political situation which is determined, in its turn, by a psychological state. Every attempted explanation seems to become circular.

A really satisfactory study of present-day Germany would therefore be almost impossible, even if a group of specialists were to co-operate. But some attempt needs to be made now . . .

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