Germany. Extensive sexual assaults committed outside the central station in Cologne on New Year’s Eve caused great consternation. Hundreds of women were exposed by perpetrators, mainly newly arrived asylum seekers from North Africa. Data appeared to appear to be co-ordinated sex offenses, often at the same time as robberies and thefts, also elsewhere. A heated debate on integration and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe followed.
According to countryaah, the current population of Germany is 83,783,953. The events in Cologne in combination with ever-increasing demands to reduce the influx of migrants led to the adoption of a stricter asylum law, in which several countries were classified as “safe”, which impaired the opportunities for asylum for their citizens. The right to family reunification was also restricted. Another consequence was that the Covenant Day adopted a further definition of rape so that the term did not require violence. It also became easier to expel sex offenders.
The development contributed to a strong upswing for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which increasingly profiled itself as hostile to Islam. In the five state elections held during the year, the party received between 14 and 24% of the vote. Both federal parties at the federal level, Christian Democratic CDU and Social Democratic SPD, lost mandate. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the AfD came in second place, before the CDU, but neither there nor elsewhere the party was invited to participate in any coalition government. Most startling in general was that the Green Party for the first time became the largest party in a state, Baden-Württemberg.
In February, twelve people were killed and dozens injured when two local trains crashed in Bavaria. The accident was caused by a traffic controller who was distracted by a game on his mobile.
In June, the Bundestag passed a resolution that genocide was committed against Armenians and other Christians in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. This prompted Turkey to call its ambassador from Berlin. Eleven German MPs with roots in Turkey were subjected to fatal threat and received police protection.
A mass shooting without clear motives occurred in Munich in July, when an 18-year-old shot dead nine people in a shopping mall. Two other acts of violence occurred the same week, also in Bavaria: a 17-year-old with a knife and ax injured fellow passengers on a local train before he was shot dead by police, and a 27-year-old died when an explosive charge he carried exploded outside a wine cellar. In both cases, the perpetrators were asylum seekers who had expressed extremist Islamist views. It contributed to increased criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s continued stance that refugee policy should be as generous as possible. Despite this and despite the CDU’s crush, Merkel was re-elected at a party congress in December with a wide margin as party leader ahead of the election for Bundesdag next year.
The week before Christmas, Berlin was hit by a terrorist attack that gave new fuel to the criticism against Merkel. Twelve people were killed and over 50 injured when a truck was driven into the crowd at a Christmas market. The assailant was a 24-year-old Tunisian who was known by the police as a radical Islamist. He was shot a few days later by police in Italy.
In March 1938, German troops invaded Austria, and Hitler proclaimed the annexation of the country. Following pressure from Hitler and German nationalists, an agreement was reached that year – the Munich Agreement – with the other European superpowers, after which the Sudeterland in Czechoslovakia was to be surrendered to Germany. On the night of November 9 and 10, the government organized a systematic destruction of all Jewish businesses, religious and cultural institutions. It became known as the “Crystal Night”.
In 1939, Germany exploited internal contradictions between Czechs and Slovaks and sent its troops to Prague. Bohemia, Moravia, Moravia and Slovakia were made German protectorates. England issued guarantees to Poland, Romania, Greece and Turkey to defend their independence, while simultaneously trying to form an alliance with the Soviet Union with France. But Germany came first. In August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-assault pact, and on September 1, German troops invaded Poland. In response, England and France gave Hitler an ultimatum. World War II had broken out.
In 1940, Germany occupied Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France. In June 1941, according to thereligionfaqs, Germany launched its attack on the Soviet Union, but the forces ran just a few kilometers outside Moscow and were strategically beaten at Stalingrad in 1943. From the beginning, Germany’s assault on its neighboring countries was fully fueled by a systematic extermination policy towards the Jewish population. In addition, the concentration camps, mainly located in Poland, were used. More than 6 million Jews were killed in these camps, and about 1 million from other ethnic groups must be added.
The advance of the Red Army culminated with the conquest of Berlin in the spring of 1945. The year before, the Allies had begun their invasion of Normandy. In May 1945, Germany finally had to capitulate. The land was divided into 4 occupation zones. The areas east of the rivers Oder and Neisse came under Polish and Soviet administration. West of the rivers, Germany was divided between the United States, France and England. Berlin was divided into 4 occupation sectors which were to be subject to joint administration and treated as one economic entity.
The Potsdam agreement stipulated that the roots of Nazism should be removed once and for all, and that meant that a settlement had to be made both with the social and economic conditions that had formed the basis of Nazism. All war production had to be banned and the bigotry cartels dissolved. As a war damage compensation, a number of companies had to be dismantled and left with the victors.
But the Allies’ far-reaching plans for a political, economic and social reorganization in Germany were never implemented. Instead, the four victorious powers took care of their own economic and security interests in their respective zones. The victors’ conflicting interests, but also differing perceptions of Germany’s policy in North American, British and French governments prevented a common policy in the occupation zones. Ultimately, it became imperative that North American finance and military circles were taken over by US policy and, because of the weak economic position of Britain and France, could also help to determine their policy.
After several failed conferences between the foreign ministers, the United States and the United Kingdom set up a joint administration for their zones as a first step towards an economic unit. A development in the socialist direction – socialization such as the United Kingdom and the German state constitution had advocated – and a development of the labor movement’s organizations was halted or hindered by the United States. The participation of the western occupation zones in the Marshall Plan and the monetary reform in the summer of 1948 were significant steps away from German unity and towards western integration.
The disagreement between the four victors over the future government of Germany last led down in 1949 to the formation of the Federal Republic in the west and the GDR in the east. The two German states became the focal point of post-war tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.
In the following, the history of the GDR and since the history of the Federal Republic in the period 1945-90 will be dealt with first.