The history of the Federal Republic of Germany is closely connected with economic achievement. Enjoying a striking economic recovery in the 1950s, the FRG became the home of the “economic miracle.” Maturing into one of the most powerful economies in the world, it became known as the “German model” by the 1970s. Now, however, the chief metaphor for the German economy is “Standort Deutschland,” and therein lies the tale of the new German problem.
William Glenn Gray
This essay explores the relationship between West Germany's “economic miracle” and the goal of reunification in the early postwar decades. It argues that Konrad Adenauer was reluctant to mobilize economic resources on behalf of German unity-instead he sought to win trust by proclaiming unswerving loyalty to the West. Ludwig Erhard, by contrast, made an overt attempt to exchange financial incentives for political concessions-to no avail. Both of these chancellors failed to appreciate how West Germany's increasing prosperity undermined its diplomatic position, at least in the near term, given the jealousies and misgivings it generated in Western capitals and in Moscow. Only a gradual process of normalization would allow all four of the relevant powers-France, Britain, the United States, and the USSR-to develop sufficient trust in the economically dynamic Federal Republic to facilitate the country's eventual unification.
Mark E. Spicka
Perhaps the most remarkable development in the Federal Republic
of Germany since World War II has been the creation of its stable
democracy. Already by the second half of the 1950s, political commentators
proclaimed that “Bonn is not Weimar.” Whereas the
Weimar Republic faced the proliferation of splinter parties, the rise
of extremist parties, and the fragmentation of support for liberal and
conservative parties—conditions that led to its ultimate collapse—the
Federal Republic witnessed the blossoming of moderate, broadbased
parties.1 By the end of the 1950s the Christian Democratic
Union/Christian Social Union (CDU), Social Democratic Party
(SPD) and Free Democratic Party (FDP) had formed the basis of a
stable party system that would continue through the 1980s.
References to Germany's “economic miracle” and to the introduction of the “social market economy” play an important role in the historical culture of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). This self-image is based on the myth that the “social market economy
Konrad H. Jarausch
Perhaps two generations after the modest beginning, the FRG's successes and failures have become amenable to a more balanced evaluation. From the vantage point of the "Berlin Republic," the key question has shifted from whether the second German democracy would survive at all, to the reasons for its relatively positive course and to the extent of its lingering problems. This chapter first delves into the emergence of popular myths that characterized the Federal Republic's difficult search for identity. Secondly, it takes a look at some of the West's actual accomplishments in problem-solving, because such a comparison helps explain the eventual collapse of the East. Finally, it scrutinizes several of the competing explanations so as to reveal their political agendas and discuss their analytical limitations. Instead of presenting a simple success story, this reflection therefore strives for a critical appreciation. The paper concludes that at sixty, the FRG has entered a comfortable middle age, leaving be hind some of its earlier drama, but exuding a sense of competent normalcy. The mythical challenges of postwar reconstruction and recovery of international respectability have receded, followed instead by everyday concerns that are much less exhilarating. There are still plenty of problems, ranging from an aging population to a lack of full-day childcare, but they are shared by other advanced industrial societies. Moreover, after a century of first arrogant and then dejected difference, the German Sonderweg has finally come to an end. As a result of the meltdown of the Anglo-American version of unrestrained capitalism, the German model of a socially responsive market economy has even regained some of its prior luster. Hence, the postwar record of cautious incrementalism inspires some confidence that the Germans will also manage to meet the unforeseen political and economic challenges of the future.
Nancy R. Reagin, Sweeping the German Nation: Domesticity and National Identity in Germany, 1870-1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Reviewed by Patricia R. Stokes
Alan S. Zuckerman, Josip Dasovic, and Jennifer Fitzgerald, Partisan Families: The Social Logic of Bounded Partisanship in Germany and Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Reviewed by Louise K. Davidson-Schmich
Pamela E. Swett, S. Jonathan Wiesen, and Jonathan R. Zatlin, eds., Selling Modernity: Advertising in Twentieth-Century Germany (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007)
Reviewed by Barbara Mennel
Mark E. Spicka, Selling the Economic Miracle: Economic Reconstruction and Politics in West Germany, 1949-1957, Monographs in German History, Volume 18 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007)
Reviewed by Kurt Huebner
Karen Hagemann and Jean H. Quataert, eds., Gendering Modern German History: Rewriting Historiography (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007)
Reviewed by Myra Marx Ferree
Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos and Karen Schönwälder
With the passage of a new citizenship law in 1999 and the so-called
Zuwanderungsgesetz (Migration Law) of 2004, contemporary Germany
has gone a long way toward acknowledging its status as an immigration
country (Einwanderungsland). Yet, Germany is still regarded by
many as a “reluctant” land of immigration, different than traditional
immigration countries such as Canada, the United States, and Australia.
It owes this image to the fact that many of today’s “immigrants”
were in fact “guests,” invited to work in the Federal Republic
in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and expected to leave when they were
no longer needed. Migration was meant to be a temporary measure,
to stoke the engine of the Economic Miracle but not fundamentally
alter German society. The question, then, is how did these “guest
workers” become immigrants? Why did the Federal Republic
become an immigration country?
James C. Van Hook
Economics and economic history have a fundamental role to play in our understanding of Cold War Germany. Yet, it is still difficult to establish concrete links between economic phenomena and the most important questions facing post 1945 historians. Obviously, one may evaluate West Germany's “economic miracle,” the success of western European integration, or the end of communism in 1989 from a purely economic point of view. To achieve a deeper understanding of Cold War Germany, however, one must evaluate whether the social market economy represented an adequate response to Nazism, if memory and perspective provided the decisive impulse for European integration, or if the Cold War ended in Europe because of changes in western nuclear strategy. Economic history operates in relation to politics, culture, and historical memory. The parameters for economic action are often as determined by the given political culture of the moment, as they are by the feasibility of alternative economic philosophies.
Dermot Bolger’s 2015 novel Tanglewood is one of a raft of literary responses to the demise of Ireland’s recent economic ‘miracle’, the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’. Bolger’s narrative is deeply critical of the corrupted morality that characterised facets of the property ‘boom’, a corner of the Irish economy that underlay such a significant part of the economic buoyancy of the country. Consequently, Bolger mobilises shame as one part of his critical armoury, and in so doing he resurrects a familiar affect in the Irish context. However, Bolger’s use of shame, and his suggestion that those who benefited most lavishly during Ireland’s Celtic Tiger period should be shamed, and feel ashamed, are deeply conservative and self-defeating ways of confronting the aftermath of the economic recession in Ireland. As we note, Bolger’s version of shame causes little more than personal isolation and familial fracture, and lacks any potential to partake of what we shall term ‘a revolutionary politics of shame’.
David Meskill, Optimizing the German Workforce: Labor Administration from Bismarck to the Economic Miracle (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010) Reviewed by Gregory Baldi;
Jan-Werner Müller, Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011) Reviewed by John Bendix;
Douglas B. Klusmeyer and Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Immigration Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009) Reviewed by Suzanna M. Crage;
Derek Hastings, Catholicism & the Roots of Nazism: Religious Identity and National Socialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) Reviewed by Robert P. Ericksen;
Review of Pertti Ahonen, Death at the Berlin Wall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) Reviewed by Hope M. Harrison;
Wolfgang Scholz, The Social Budget of Germany: Keeping the Welfare State in Perspective (Berlin: edition sigma, 2009) Reviewed by John Bendix;
Philip Broadbent and Sabine Hake, eds., Berlin. Divided City, 1945-1989(New York: Berghahn Books, 2010) Reviewed by Helge F. Jani;
Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (New York: Basic Books, 2010) Reviewed by Larson Powell