German Reconciliation

April 19, 1985

Report Outline
Federal Republic Today
Reshaping German Opinion
The ‘German Question’

Federal Republic Today

Refocusing on War Defeat and Rebirth

For a week in May, Germany will be the focus of world attention. First, President Reagan and leaders of six other big Western industrial powers will gather in Bonn for their annual review of international economic and trade matters. Reagan will then extend his stay in Germany until May 6, just before the 40th anniversary of the collapse of Nazi Germany, ending World War II in Europe.

The two events starkly illustrate the dilemma of modern Germany—a powerful participant in the community of nations, yet still haunted by an aggressive and sinister past that often impedes its ability to play its present role. While few people still seriously question Germany's place as a positive force in international affairs, recent trends and the current wave of 40th anniversary memories have raised questions about the future of Germany and the consequences for its neighbors.

In May 1945, Germany and many of those neighbors lay devastated and broken by six years of war. But within a decade the wirtschaftwunder (“economic miracle”) was set in motion, bringing prosperity to Germany as never before and restoring its self-esteem. Four decades of peace have followed Germany's defeat, but it has been a troubled peace, leaving the country, Europe and most of the world divided politically, militarily and ideologically between East and West. Since 1949 two German nations have existed side by side: the Federal Republic (West Germany) and the Democratic Republic (East Germany), embracing the territory controlled respectively by the Allied and Russian armies at the time of Germany's surrender.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 22, 1989  A Primer on German Reunification
Apr. 19, 1985  German Reconciliation
Feb. 25, 1983  West Germany's ‘Missile’ Election
Jan. 14, 1970  German Reconciliation
Jan. 29, 1969  West German Prosperity
Mar. 30, 1966  German Border Question and Reunification
Aug. 18, 1965  West German Election, 1965
Feb. 24, 1965  War Guilt Expiation
Jul. 01, 1964  German Question
Sep. 01, 1961  Captive East Germany
Aug. 23, 1961  West German Election, 1961
May 04, 1960  Berlin Question
Dec. 24, 1958  Berlin Crisis and German Reunification
Aug. 21, 1957  German Election, 1957
Oct. 19, 1955  European Security
Jun. 15, 1955  Germany and the Balance of Power
Oct. 19, 1954  German Rearmament
Jan. 19, 1954  West German Recovery
Mar. 12, 1953  Harassed Berlin
Apr. 26, 1950  German Problem
Feb. 18, 1948  Rehabilitation of the Ruhr
Oct. 23, 1946  Future of Germany
Nov. 25, 1944  Transfers of Populations
Nov. 01, 1940  Economic Controls in Nazi Germany
Mar. 09, 1939  Foreign Trade in German Economy
Apr. 02, 1936  Germany's Post-War European Relations
Nov. 02, 1934  The Coming Saab Plebiscite
Apr. 23, 1931  The Austro-German Customs Union Project
Feb. 05, 1929  The Rhineland Problem
Nov. 07, 1924  German National Elections December, 1924
Apr. 30, 1924  The German National Elections
Regional Political Affairs: Europe