January 27, 2018Posted by on
This week on Facebook: Mainly for the benefit of my children, I should like to point out that German reunification refers to that of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall,which led to Tag der Deutschen Einheit. This is not the same as Bismarck’s German Unification of 1850 to 1871 nor is it the 1938 Anschluss.
In the early 90s I worked on a European Standard with colleagues, who (for the most part) came from Northern Europe. The convener (chairman) of the group was a German who once remarked that most West Germans would gladly spend their weekends rebuilding the barrier between East Germany and West Germany, though which side would enforce this rebuilt barrier I’m not sure of.
Clearly Victor Hugo’s United States of Europe assumed a French revolutionary leadership — C’est bien connu: la France, c’est l’Europe et l’Europe c’est la France. This French view of Europe may be seen as self interest, which when added to a French abhorrence of le modèle anglo-saxon seems extremely naïve. However, no more so than the naïveté of the UK in wishing to remain aloof from European political affairs. Historically the UK has also had a nationalistic self-interested relationship with its mainland continental neighbours and Ireland, whilst pursuing an ambivalence interpreted by others as the perfidy of Albion.
The reunification of Germany was very dependent on the endorsement of France and UK — the two votes that would persuade the other EU member states, either emotionally or economically, to vote on fiscal unity. In the UK the emotional view came from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher¹ who acted unilaterally and without any consensus, either from her cabinet or the electorate. The French took a very pragmatic view and their decision was taken in the economic interests of the French State². The emotional views of Margaret Thatcher failed and while François Mitterand, the President of France, made German reunification conditional on German’s acceptance of the Euro — the French were to find that the economic price has yet to be paid.
From a French perspective, with their influences of Victor-Marie Hugo (complimented by those held of Jean-Baptiste Colbert and Napoleon Bonéparte), the reunification of Germany is complex³. A complexity that probably prevents the EU, but particularly France and Germany, from seeing a democratic united Europe as anything beyond their hegemony over it. Nevertheless, it is a disparate hegemony that is increasingly economic but perhaps more importantly, France and Germany each have quite different notions of Federalism. The economic supremacy of Germany leaves France (and the rest of the EU) holding a German tiger by its tail.
Monday — The Iron Lady’s Views on German Reunification¹: It’s no secret that Thatcher was a bitter opponent of German reunification. But new documents released Thursday by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office show how she insisted that her government resist the historic development. She repeatedly reined back then-Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd and Christopher Mallaby, Britain’s ambassador in Bonn, who wanted to signal his support for reunification on the day the wall came down.
Tuesday — You get unification, we get the euro²: While Germans celebrated the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterand were at war over the consequences of a united Germany. Secret government documents obtained by Der Spiegel appear to show that Bonn was forced to sacrifice the Deutschmark for reunification.
Wednesday — What Today’s Germany Owes to Its Once-Communist East: The West will assimilate the East and transform the fruits of its revolution into profits for its companies. Nothing will remain of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and its citizens will have to submit to a foreign lifestyle. The East is taken over, an event the revolutionaries welcomed with open arms — but it’s a hostile takeover, an obliteration and eradication of what the eastern part of Germany once was. West Germany will simply expand, and that will be that.
Thursday — German Reunification at 27 — The Legacy of East and West German Split Endures: In many respects, there is perhaps no example of two states that have merged together quite so successfully in history — an impressive feat, considering the vastly different political systems that governed the respective countries. However, a generation since “Deutsche Einheit,” the question of just how unified modern Germany continues to loom large.
Friday — Solidarity or Self-interest? European Integration and the German Question³: Germany today is earnest in its desire to be a good European neighbor, but it does not believe that it can or should pay any cost as part of this role. One problem is that economic, not ethical values have become the lodestone of the European Union. As a hybrid construct, the EU lacks the societal dimension which, within the nation-state, is the critical element that allows one group of people to identify with another and which legitimise government actions designed to help one part of the community at the expense of another.
The Economic Consequences of German Unification (pdf): The year 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, was the finest year in a decade. There was noninflationary and broad-based gross domestic product (GDP) growth due to strong domestic and foreign demand that yielded a high employment growth rate, a balanced budget, and a trade surplus of 5 percent of GDP. Producer price inflation remained stable at around 2 percent, while headline consumer price index (CPI) inflation was 2.8 percent, which was perfectly in line with the inflation trend during the 1980s. Exports, traditionally relied upon for igniting demand-led growth, performed strongly. Fiscal and monetary policies contributed (although belatedly) to the recovery in domestic demand. Not surprisingly, the former West Germany’s economy coped rather smoothly with the strains that unification put on its resources.