• Short Summary

    Thirty years ago, on September the 21st, 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was formally established when the Allied Military Government ended.

  • Description

    Thirty years ago, on September the 21st, 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was formally established when the Allied Military Government ended. In the three decades since then, the country of 61 million people has established itself as one of the world's most prosperous nations, with a growing influence in world affairs.

    SYNOPSIS: After the second world war West Germans were faced with the immense task of rebuilding a country that had suffered enormous bomb damage to its cities and factories. It took almost twenty years to achieve.

    In May 1949 Dr. Konrad Adenauer and members of the Parliamentary Council signed the new country's constitution -- the Republic was officially proclaimed.

    Five years later, in Paris, full sovereignty was restored to West Germany, after agreement with France, Great Britain and the United States.

    For 14 years from 1949 Dr. Adenauer, the first chancellor, guided Germany towards prosperity with the aims of reconstruction, reunification; and formation of a European Community.

    Professor Ludwig Erhard took over the chancellorship in 1963, and, until his resignation in 1966, endorsed Dr. Adenauer's policies, which included alliance with the West, and insistence on the re-unification of Germany of its pre-war frontiers.

    By then though, West Germany had been completely cut off from Eastern Germany. Construction of the Berlin Wall started in 1961. The city became the focal point of tension and travel across divided Germany was severely restricted.

    Under Chancellor Willy Brandt there was a change in foreign policy. In 1970 he signed important treaties with the Soviet Union - earlier that year he made history by meeting East Germany's head of state - heralding improved relations between the two.

    A spy scandal forced Herr Brandt out of office in 1974. He was replaced by the present head of state, Helmut Schmidt, who took over leadership of a country that had witnessed what has become known as the 'economic miracle'.

    The country's wealth was built on industry--engineering, iron and steel, vehicles. Last year (1978) the Federal Republic overtook the United States as the world's largest exporter. Coupled with a low inflation rate--last year it was under 2.5 per cent, and the decline of the dollar, West Germany has found itself the centrepiece in the Western Economy. The Deutschmark has become one of the strongest currencies; world demand has forced its value against other currencies up. Backed by this, West German workers, among the world's best paid, have been able to provide for themselves a life style in which possession of a house and a car are principal goals.

    With the financial success though, came political extremism. The names of Baader and Meinhof have become almost synonyms for urban guerrilla violence--part of a vaguely defined protest movement against 'the system' which grew up mainly among students and academics.

    There are other problems, mostly social; possibly caused by the country's highly competitive and often aggressive lifestyle. Suicides among the young have doubled in the last ten years. But for most West Germans though, the thirty years since 1949 have brought greatly increased living standards.

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