Germany. According to Countryaah.com, Germany population in 2020 is estimated at 83,783,953. Former President Christian Wulff was released in February from suspicion of corruption by a Hannover court that also ruled that he was entitled to compensation. Wulff resigned from the mainly ceremonial presidential post in 2012 after allegations of irregularities.
In the May European elections, the Christian Democratic CDU lost substantially compared to the 2013 federal election but remained the largest party. The Conservative and EU Critical Alternative for Germany (AfD) formed in 2013 received 7% of the vote and seven seats. In this year’s three state elections – in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia – the AfD received 10-12% of the vote and in all cases became the fourth largest party, ahead of the environmental party The Greens. But what attracted the most attention in connection with the elections was that the Left Party Die Linke became government leader in Thuringia in a coalition with the Social Democratic SPD and the environmental party. It was the first time that the party, with roots in the East German Communist Party, ended up in the leadership of a state government, which aroused strong feelings for many.
The Bundestag in July decided for the first time to introduce a minimum wage in Germany, at € 8.50 per hour. It was a heart issue for the SPD and part of the government deal with the CDU. Some exceptions were made, including for minors and trainees as well as for the first six months for long-term unemployed who return to work.
Foreign policy was focused heavily on the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. Germany slowed down some increased sanctions on the Russian Federation and instead sought to work to improve the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and to establish a lasting ceasefire. Chancellor Angela Merkel was long seen as more reconcilable than other Western leaders and she was reported to have spoken on the phone with President Vladimir Putin some 40 times during the year. But in a speech in November, she adopted a much tougher tone, and German observers interpreted it as patience with the Russian Federation was about to quit.
The fighting and the refugee disaster that arose in the wake of the Islamic State (IS) advancement in Iraq led to a decision to assist Iraqi Kurds with military equipment. The decision was disputed, as arms sales regulations prohibit exports to war zones.
On November 8, it was announced that a quarter of a century has passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Along a 15 kilometer long line where the wall has gone, 8,000 white balloons were released into the air. At each balloon there was a note attached with a message to the world. Among those present were the Soviet Union’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Polish former trade union leader Lech Wałęsa, two people who played a large part in the fall.
A new law was passed in November on gender quotas in corporate boards. As of 2016, at least 30% of the places must be held by women or left empty.
A death attack outside Frankfurt aroused strong feelings and many wanted to honor the victim for her civilian intercourse. 23-year-old Tuğçe Albayrak was beaten outside a hamburger restaurant after she tried to help two girls who were thrown into a toilet. She ended up in a coma and later died. An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of obesity.
Growth slowed down and the economy was at the end of the year looming near recession. The government presented another stimulus package of EUR 10 billion. At the same time, unemployment fell to around 6.5%.
The German Democratic Republic (GDR) (1945-90)
The German Democratic Republic (GDR) was a people democracy that was abolished in 1990 by its incorporation into the Prohibition Republic of Germany.
The GDR became independent in October 1949. The Cold War had reached its tentative climax with the Berlin blockade. Even before the founding of the state, a “revolution from above” was initiated. The period 1945-49 was marked by the anti-fascist and democratic upheaval. Radical changes in the economic, political and social structures created the preconditions for “truly existing socialism” on German soil.
In September 1945, the Soviet occupation force embarked on a land reform. All farms on more than 100 hectares, as well as Nazi and war criminals’ properties were involved without compensation. 23.9% of the 52,292 land reform commission members came from the German Communist Party, 17.5% from the Socialist Party, 1.8% from the bourgeois parties LDP and CDU. 56.8% did not come from any party. Private farms got two thirds and public and cooperative farms got one third of the 3.3 million hectares allocated. In 1946, central machine rental stations were set up to help farmers with work tools.
Industrial reform was initiated in 1946. It abolished the principle of private ownership of the means of production. This reform and land reform destroyed the main supports under the traditional class structure. In parallel, a new social order was begun. In school, the principle of equality won. With the introduction of the unit school, the education system was given a new foundation. The judicial reform in 1945-46 replaced the national socialist judges with the people’s judges, and repealed the Nazi laws.
From the first moment, the reorganization of the state and society in the Soviet occupation zone was characterized by strong centralization tendencies – this was different in the western zones. The two labor parties SPD (Socialist Party) and KPD (Communist Party) were transformed into a party in 1946 – Germany’s Socialist Unity Party (SED). After a short time, it was the SED that determined the development, and the Soviet occupying power controlled this party. Originally, it was not SED’s plan to take over the Soviet system. Among other things. the KPD wrote in a call of June 11, 1945, that it would be “wrong to introduce the Soviet system into Germany”. In 1946-47, the thesis on the “special German path to socialism” continued. But the Cold War grew stronger and left its mark.
The SED’s transformation into a “lot of a new type”, at the same time marked the Stalinisation of the lot. As a result, social democratic politics were no longer visible. Democratic centralism became the organizational principle. The democratic elements came into the background, and the Stalinist interpretation of Marxism-Leninism became the ruling ideology.
The social system was increasingly adapted to the Soviet economy model. In 1948 socio-economic planning was started. In the companies, the business councils disappeared. Instead, business groups were created. On October 13, 1948, the signal was given to take over the Soviet Stachanow system.
The year 1945-55 is referred to as the period when the foundation of socialism was laid. The class structure was changed by socializing the means of production – ie. that the state sector grew and that the SED assumed the central leadership positions. On October 10, 1949, a Provisional National Assembly and the newly formed Land Assembly elected Wilhelm Pieck (1876-1960) from the Social Democrats as Prime Minister. It was SED leaders who got the most important government posts. Among them was Walter Ulbricht (1893-1973), who quickly came to play a key role.
The GDR had a far worse starting position than the Federal Republic of Germany. The ruined economy had to be restored – without Marshall’s help. There was no significant heavy industry. The most serious burden was the war damage compensation to the Soviet Union until 1953. In its trade and economic relations, the country had to orientate itself away from West Germany and instead face Eastern Europe. The fundamental socio-economic changes that large parts of the people did not benefit from led many to flee west. This led to great values leaving the country.
In July 1952, a party conference in the SED decided to “start building socialism” in the GDR. The state and cooperative property grew. This relationship with the central planning economy prompted Walter Ulbricht to declare that the national economy was ripe to transition to socialism. Three months after Stalin died, in 1953, a strike among construction workers in East Berlin led to a nationwide worker uprising. This threatened the existence of the GDR and the leadership role of the SED, and was therefore crushed by the Soviet army.
Socio-economic development went fast. The development of the heavy industry was unilaterally focused on improving the standard of living. This policy was implemented across the interests of broad strata of the population. The opposition was also reflected through opposition in the party, but this one was purged. However, do not know about terrorist purges as in the Soviet Union or other Eastern European countries. The purges were for former social democrats, national communists, titoists former emigrants from the West as well as Ulbricht’s opponents and competitors in the party.
The official incorporation of the GDR into the Eastern European state system gained momentum in 1951 when the country was admitted into Comecon. The next step came when the GDR joined the Warsaw Pact in response to West Germany’s accession to NATO. The development emphasized the existence of the GDR’s foreign policy, and marked that Germany was divided.