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A Brief History of Germany . points to be observed



Major Points :

            (1)      (anonymous) author uses value-laden terminology : warmonger Wilhelm II., Soviet hordes, Islamic hordes, peace loving Americans
            (2)      (anonymous) author uses inappropriate language : crappy economy, ass on line
            (3)      (anonymous) author distorts chronological order : 1960s protest against Vietnam War happened after John F. Kennedy's Berlin speech
            (4)      (anonymous) author uses labels not to appropriately describe political figures, but for character assassination :
Gerhard Schroeder was a leading member of the SPD (Social Democratic Party). This party (voter base 35-40 %) had a left and a moderate wing; Schroeder belonged to the moderate wing. Re hoped to emulate what Tony Blair had achieved in the UK. To associate him and his cabinet with "Hardline, left-of-left socialist"s is character assassination; it does not really characterize Schroeder, but says something on the political stand of the anonymous author of this text.
            (5)      lack of differentiation : the Germans / Germany here, the Americans/America there
example : Germans form the marxist terrorist group Red Army Faction (RAF) - yes, a few handful of leftist intellectuals did. The overwhelming majority only became aware of their existence once the RAF committed major acts of violence
            (6)      it was not Gorbachev who tore down the Berlin Wall; it was the Berliners who did.
            (7)      gross exaggeration
For the German 1968 student protesters, American civil rights were not really a major issue; they would focus on social issues in Germany such as an education system discriminating against children from poor, working class families, abortion, divorce laws and business practices discriminating against women etc.
            (8a)      omission (Marshall Plan Aid; Economic Miracle)
Until 1948 the western zones of Germany depended on foreign aid, mostly American. One reason : the German currency was worthless, the flourishing Black Market used American cigarettes as substitute currency. The USSR rejected a currency reform for all of Germany; the U.S. administration encouraged West German authorities to simply implement a currency reform without asking the Soviets (1948); this triggered the Berlin Blockade.
West Germany did receive a significant amount of Marshall Plan aid (by comparison much less than either the U.K. or France, while the physical destruction of German houses and factories and the losses among the adult working age population in Germany were greater than those in either the U.K. and France. Apart from Marshall Plan aid, factors which did contribute to Germany's economic miracle included - a pool of engineers. The factory halls may have been destroyed, the brains behind the factory were not. Attitude - Germans were aware that their country had created not only the mess Germany was in, but also that of everybody else in Europe. People wanted to get over the past and start anew, by working hard. In Britain and France, many may have thought : we won, the hard times are over, relax. One important point the author of this account justifiedly makes : West Germany did not have an army until 1955 (and thus it did not have to pay for an army). The U.K. and France both had armed forces and were engaged in warfare in those years.

            (8b)      omission (end of the Berlin wall)
The role of the U.S. in protecting West Berlin from 1945 to 1963 was crucial. After that, domestic events in Germany became more important. The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 was a defensive act by East Germany, an attempt to prevent its people from escaping. Factors which prepared the ground for the events in 1989, omitted here, include the Ostpolitik (1969-1989), a German version of Detente. Ronald Reagan's speech was a media splash. Willy Brandt, Helmut Kohl, Hanns Dietrich Genscher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Edvard Shevardnadze, and the citizens of East Berlin and Leipzig contributed more actively to the events of 1989 than did Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.
            (8c)      Omission - Germany's role in the Bosnian crisis
The author is correct in statying that Germany was very reluctant in sending troops into Bosnia. Because of historical ballast; it provides the opposing side with the opportunity to label modern Germany "Nazi Germany" and to label modern Germany's allies as the allies of Nazi Germany. But Germany took in 80 % of the Bosnian refugees, among them Edwin Dzeko, now player at Manchester City. It thus contributed, in a different way.
(9)      factual misrepresentation
(1) President Roosevelt pursued a policy of being involved in World War II while claiming to be neutral. He signed the Atlantic Charter (August 1941), signed Lend-Lease (March 1941) which made it possible for the U.K. to stay in the war. The U.S. formally entered WW II in Dec. 1941.
(2) It was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour which brought the U.S. into the war, not the German declaration of war a few days after that.


Minor points :

            (1)      Bismarck misspelled
            (2)      NATO was established in 1949, not in 1955.
            (3)      The European Union was not "founded" in 1993, it was reorganized and renamed in 1993.
The European Economic Community (EEC) was established in 1957 with (West) Germany as founding member; in 1965 it was renamed European Community, in 1993 European Union. (West) Germany has been the organization's main financial contributor since 1957.


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