This article focuses on the economic aspects of German European policy in the 1950s and raises the question whether the economic system of the Federal Republic of Germany, “Soziale Marktwirtschaft” had any impact on the European policy of the West German state. It argues that Social Market Economy as defined by Ludwig Erhard influenced German European policy in certain aspects, but there was a latent contradiction between the political approach of Konrad Adenauer and this economic concept. Moreover, this article shows that West German European policy was not always as supportive for European unity as it is often considered.
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.
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.
and was the result of exceptionally hard work. Second, with the establishment of the “social market economy” in 1948, Ludwig Erhard introduced a new production regime, and the combination of scarce currency and free market led to large investments and
Myra Marx Ferree, Hanno Balz, John Bendix, Meredith Heiser-Duron, Jeffrey Luppes, Stephen Milder, and Randall Newnham
, competition, and monetary stability” or as the result of “the continued expansion of productive capabilities after the re-attainment of capacity output,” or even—here with reference to some of Ludwig Erhard’s expansive pronouncements—as “the product of sound
Angela Merkel, the Grand Coalition, and “Majority Rule” in Germany
Joyce Marie Mushaben
Baden-Württemberg in 1958, where he became Minister-President. As a powerful “state prince” in a large, prosperous Land, Kiesinger remained a party outsider; he was “neither tainted by Adenauer-exhaustion nor [the] king-killer removal of [Ludwig] Erhard
reports that Merkel has soured on her in recent years. National politics often looks to the states for talent. In fact, Merkel is only the second chancellor since 1949 (after Ludwig Erhard) not to have previously held a regional governmental office
, transitioning from a dictatorship to a democracy, even achieving full membership within the ranks of parliamentary states in 1990. 5 The West German state’s stability made this possible, with scholars calling this a “political miracle” on a par with Ludwig