Germany Years Before President Reagan Told Soviet Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1269 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World

Germany

Years before President Reagan told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev "Tear down this wall," the Eastern European communist bloc showed signs of crumbling. The wall that physically demarcated East from West Berlin since 1961 had become largely symbolic by the mid-1980s, and by the time the wall came down in 1989, thousands of East German residents had already made it across the border due to increasingly liberal travel and trade agreements between both sides. By 1989, Germans on both sides of the wall had been somewhat prepared for reunification; in fact, the West German federal constitution still referred to the five Bundesl nder subsumed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) as if the GDR was like a rebellious child that would eventually come home.

Met with unbridled enthusiasm and expectancy throughout much of the world, the reunification of Germany nevertheless posed significant problems for the new republic. Bogged down by decades of corrupt communist policies and regimes, the East German economy was sluggish compared with that of West Germany in the late 1980s, even if the GDR happened to be one of the most prosperous centers of communist Eastern Europe at the time. Economics remains one of the most formidable problems of the German reunification process, decades after the wall fell. In spite of enormous endowments of tax monies from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), the former GDR states lag behind those of the West. Unemployment has remained steadily high and new business endeavors have largely floundered.

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Schirrmacher notes that the FRG should have learned a valuable lesson from its own economic success: that after the end of World War Two, a free market economic model resulted vibrant and admirable growth. Instead of investing to stimulate entrepreneurial growth, the FRG offered generous tax money grants. As a result, "much of the GDR remains in the same condition that Hitler left it in," (Schirrmacher). Because unemployment in Eastern Germany has remained high since reunification, many young people have left the former FRG.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Germany Years Before President Reagan Told Soviet Assignment

Migration of people from Eastern Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe into Western Germany has also brought social and cultural problems to light and illuminates the need for improved policy and institutional supports. For example, thousands of Germans from throughout the former communist bloc have streamed into the FRG since reunification as economic or political refugees. The massive influx of people from the East has caused considerable resentment amongst the residents of the FRG. Competition for jobs and for welfare monies results in dissatisfaction and social unrest.

At the same time, the reunified FRG has declined to prosecute former GDR political leaders and has failed to correct some of the underlying social and political causes for the current problems facing the reunified nation. Schirrmacher claims that reunification "without talking about ethics" may lead to some of the social and political problems Germany now faces. For instance, the FRG has granted "amnesty for thousands of spies and others" linked to the former GDR Socialist Unity Party; "out of 170 convictions...nearly all resulted in pardons," notes Delaney. A lack of interest in prosecuting former GDR officials can be attributed to two main reasons. First, youth throughout reunified Germany view the GDR as the distant past and are ambivalent about spending taxpayer money on prosecutions. Second, the government of the FRG government has nothing to prove and in fact wanted as few impediments to reunification as possible.

Another social problem faced by Germany today pertains to the fact that for forty years, East Germany developed different cultural sensibilities and consumer tastes. Those differences may contribute to the different paces of economic growth between the Eastern and Western regions. Different "collective memories" also exacerbate the sense that the people who lived through the GDR propagate divergent and possibly contradictory values and norms from those proposed… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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