For over forty years, from 1949 to 1990, Germany was divided into West and East, each side calling itself a Republic. From the beginning, there were serious attempts at reunification. Why did it take so long? Here are a few reasons.
Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany from 1949 to 1963, was a Rheinland Catholic who didn’t get on with the Protestant Prussians of the East. When they turned Communist as well, he didn’t see why he should have to.
Adenauer’s government was highly tolerant of former Nazis. Many with a blighted past were employed in key civil service positions. Had the anti-faschists of East Berlin been given a say, those nice new careers would have been over.
In 1951, West Germany co-founded the Coal and Steel Community, which later became the European Union. In 1955, following a miraculously good deal on its war debt, West Germany was ‘invited’ to join NATO.
Not surprisingly, the Communist countries responded in kind with the Warsaw Pact. The chances of a German Confederation, which at the time was the proposed form of reunification, were over. Had the Confederation come into being it would have adopted a position of neutrality in the global West-East confrontation. The Cold War might have come to an end much earlier.
Whose interests were served by the war-mongering? Certainly, not German interests. In one sense, at least, Germany was already reunited by 1955. In the event of the outbreak of war, Germans West and East were the designated victims.