The times from 1919 to 1928 and from 1946 to 1958 saw amazing changes in the German economy. Both periods began with the collapse and turbulence attendant upon the loss of a modern total war; the prospects for the German economy appeared utterly bleak. They ended in what was called, then as now, a miracle of economic performance. The mind contemplating the capacity of modern civilization to survive social catastrophes can only marvel at these two rises of Phoenix from the ashes. Germany's industrial society proved its capacity and will to live twice over. Now its future seems bright again, as it did in 1928.
But in picking up its pieces and refashioning them into a working whole, new in some ways and old in others, the revived German economy restates a challenge to the world and to itself that may prove rather more difficult to meet than the challenge of its earlier collapse. How can all this devotion to production be accommodated in an international framework, how can the two be kept from destroying each other? The recovery of the 1920's was superseded by the debacle of the 1980's. World-wide in nature, the Great Depression had its German component. To say the least, this advanced and reconstructed economy proved highly susceptible to the depression. The 1950's, on the other hand, are not over. What will the second recovery lead to? The only way to approach an answer to this question is to examine the new economic structure and dynamics.
Comparing the two recoveries seems a useful way of doing this. Instead of looking from the depth of the postwar chaos up to the height of the prosperity, or backward, as one is tempted to