Germany: The answer to an old Question

both the economic and political hegemon of Europe inside of the European

Union; until its present condition and effectiveness in the global

politics changes, instability in the European Union, as well as, basic

fear of will always be present.

I. Introduction

II. Historical Perspective-The two negative factors

A. Fear – twice in one century

1) Bismarck/Frederick II

2) Hitler

B. Foolishness

1) WWI


III. Reunification – The Key

A. Economic realities

1) E. Germany’s status

2) Infrastructure

B. The significance of one Germany

1) Future

2) Politics

IV. European Union-The means to and end

A. European “check and balance system”

1) Hope for the future

2) Provisions for success

B. The answer to a disturbing question

1) Can Germany be strong and peaceful?

2) France and England

V. Conclusion

The formation of a state can be both a

beautiful and terrifying event . As a national you now have a home and

place to live with people of a common culture and heritage, an identity.

If you are a founder of the new state, there would be a sense of

accomplishment of having achieved the fulfillment of a lifetime goal.

Other states which deemed this new state as legitimate and recognized it

as a self-determined equal, have created a potential ally or enemy.

The downside, the premature recognition and the actual struggle for that

status, usually entails conflict, loss of life, revolution and even war.

A state was formed and recognized in 1871 in the center of

Europe. This event has had an enormous impact since its inception. It

has been both the salvation of Europe through economic depressions and

hard times, as well as, the cause for two world wars and the near

decimation of Europe. Its people have been back and forth between rags

and riches, democracy and dictatorships, united, broken and then

reunited. This state is known as Germany.

Modern Germany has been reunified after almost 50 years of

separation during the cold war. Once again German power and influence

is on the rise. The world watches because Germany has not been able to

successfully retain both total sovereignty over its territory and be an

economic world power, for a substantial period of time; without plunging

the world into an unavoidable conflict. The question of Germany and its

position in world politics is one which has plagued statesmen since

Germany’s formation. This paper will argue that the answer lies within

the state. Germany needs to secure itself as both the economic and

political hegemon of Europe under the auspices of the European Union.

Furthermore, until Germany’s present condition and effectiveness in

global politics changes, the instability in the European Union will

continue, as well as, the persistent German question..

Twice in history Germany has risen from disorder and weakness to

stand strong and belligerent upsetting the existing world order. Can

there be any question of why the world views Germany suspiciously? In

1914, German expansionism and short-sighted diplomacy paved the way

toward an inevitable war. Germany moved from Bismarkian Diplomacy which

maintained the “status quo” in Europe and abroad, to an aggressive

militaristic imperialism which desired redistribution of global

territory. A large naval fleet was built second only to the Royal navy

(Britain) as well as a massive increase in military hardware production.

By 1913 Germany replaced Britain as the main manufacturing European

power. This fact reinforced by the aggressive nature shown in German

foreign policy obviously was not in the interest of maintaining any sort

of status quo.

The situation was far from being solved. Though Germany was

defeated was placed at the mercies of the other victorious world

powers, which were determined not have the scenario of 1914 happen

again. Unfortunately, a similar situation did develop once again with

Germany in the center. By 1938 Germany had rearmed and was aggressively

expanding both its physical and economic boarders. Adolf Hitler saw the

opportunities which a weak Europe armed with the ideas of appeasement as

a deterrent for military aggression presented to Germany.

These two historical occasions promoted a general distrust of a

strong united Germany. Both times in history after the conclusions of

the wars Germany was used for its large production capabilities and

natural resources. The first time was to pay back large war debt

acquired by Britain and France. The second was during the cold war and

Germany was split between the two super powers. Thus, the development

of the German question or problem.

Reunification was possible because of a few factors. The

largest was the collapse of the Soviet Union which is also the most

obvious. This is true due to the fact that the occupied eastern region

of Germany by the Soviet army was relinquished. The second was that

West Germany had been so economically successful that the massive

investments needed for updating East German industry, infrastructure and

economy was available. The third was the existence and strength of the

European Community.

The collapse of the Soviet empire freed of East Germany and gave

it its independence. The Soviets also hold vivid memories of the two

times Germany rose to the status of a world power. Both times the

Germans invaded and pushed deep into Russian territory, the last thing

the Soviets wanted was a unified German. However, the Soviet economy

weak and collapsing was unable to retain its occupation and relinquished

control in 1989.

The merger between East and West Germany, in 1990, has not been

easy, to say the least. Germany faces three major problems concerning

unification. The first of these dilemmas is unemployment. Only 56% of

East Germany’s 16 million population was employed prior to

reunification. East German government which employed 2.2 million has

now been reduced to 1.2 million. Manufacturing employment dropped from

3.2 million to approximately between 800,000 and 1.4 million. These are

grim statistics, however, this produces an opportunity to devise new

methods of retraining and experiment with part-time employment projects.

The second problem facing Germany is the enormous expense of

upgrading the shabby infrastructure which is in the east. The

infrastructure includes roads, railroads, telecommunications, public

service, public educational systems and the postal service. This gives

Germany the chance to integrate technology and new organizational

systems which will bring the east to or even surpass existing standards

located in the west.

Thirdly, is the environmental problems which are located in the

east after decades of neglect. The deplorable conditions of the east

are going to prove to be quite a challenge both in practice and

economically. East German officials disclosed that its industry has the

highest sulphur dioxide per capita producer in the world, 5.2 million

tons a year. There also exists over 15,000 identified toxic waste

dumps. Approximately 70% of existing East German industry fails to meet

the West German environmental laws.

Despite the severity of these very expensive dilemmas,

reunification needed to take place for the benefit both Germany and

Europe. Now with the added 16 million people, the increase of physical

size Germany, the situation in Eastern Europe and the existence of the

European Union there has never been a better time for Europe.

Possessing the resources, economies, population and production of

practically the entire continent of Europe, the E.U. is in a very strong

position globally.

The European Union is the organization which has been absent in

the past to act as a European systems diagnostic. It allows the member

states to exist independently and interdependently, keeping them in

check not allowing for unwarranted forms of imperialism and predatorial

power politics. It creates a much needed form of a “check and balance”

system, which is empowered by functionalism. Functionalism, in relation

to politics, is defined as the states actions in surrendering some

authority which would normally rest in the hands of a sovereign state to

a supranational institution. Germany has locked itself into an

agreement which allows member states to build their industries, maximize

their power, expand economically and play politics without creating

extreme political strife and eventual war with neighboring countries.

For Germany “the E.U. is an almost desperately needed vehicle and

instrument for German policy, internationally and at home. They can do

more as a member than going out on their own… Germany wants a strong,

properly integrated E.U.” This quote establishes the idea for Europe,

who is extremely weary of the newly reunited state, and Germany; that

the E.U. is a necessary institution for peaceful coexistence.

The European Union also sets a stage for Germany to rise

to a position of the economic leader in Europe without exercising the

past forms of militaristic expansionism. In the recent and almost

disastrous time for the E.U. the ratification of Maastricht, the social

problems of Union surfaced first in Denmark. The Danish making it

absolutely clear that they are tired of Germans renting property along

the Danish coast and how happy they were that Denmark beat Germany in a

soccer championship match is fine. But to turn down the treaty that

could bring lasting security to Europe for an extend time period is a

tad short-sighted. Realizing the alternative that they could be

engulfed beneath a third expansionistic military regime creates room for

the questioning the wisdom of such a rejection of the proposed

referendum. Granted, to say that this is the only alternative is

indeed a stretch, however, the point is that the deepening of the E.U.

is of absolute importance, whether it be by Maastricht or another means.

As Germany grows in stature, the Germans are bound to feel that their

role is changing, especially with the developments in Eastern Europe and

beyond. These developments have created a power vacuum through which

Germany will naturally feel the need to lead in “safe-guarding” order.

It is the nature of politics to say that as German power grows so will

German influence, the only peaceful alternative and answer to the German

question is the E.U. Only, that is, if the E.U. remains elastic to

always contain but not hinder the growth of its members, especially


This brings the argument to ask the question of whether there

can be a European Germany or only a German Europe? This asks if Germany

can be successfully and “properly” integrated with the rest of Europe.

This is a nonsensical question which is self defeating. Are the Germans

some sort of special breed of humanity which make them inherently above

the law? Alfred Baring, a German Historian, is referred to as accusing

his “fellow citizen of a laxness bordering on irresponsible.” Stating

that, “Germans have been political lightweights for forty years and want

to stay that way.” Continuing that, “Germany has been living in an

idyllic situation in which it has not had to challenge itself and think

of its role in Europe.” Germany is as much of a part of Europe as

France or Italy. Each nation-state has a position and a role to play in

the E.U.. To discard Germany as being overbearing and dominant,

placing it on the shelf will simply not work. Giving Germany a monopoly

on political an economic policy making is also foolish. This argument

is not about creating a fourth German empire. Germany has a role to

fill in Europe, fear and paranoia should not be allowed to dictate how

it is accomplished.

“A strong, properly integrated European Union” is possible with

Germany. The word “strong” is an attribute of which Germany has been

all to familiar with. History is full of examples, some previously

stated in this paper, of a Europe integrated through strength. However,

“properly” is the key word in Euro-integration. Nietzsche, in his work

“Beyond Good and Evil” addresses this matter. He states, “I hear with

pleasure that our sun is moving rapidly in the direction of the

constellation of Hercules: and I hope that men on earth in this matter

emulate the sun. And we at their head [italics mine], we are good

Europeans!” This is an analogy speaking of the movement of politics and

power shifts in the late 1800’s towards Germany, in the perspective of a

German philosopher. He believed that Germans were unique to the rest of

the populous of Europe. Unfortunately, this philosophical notion