Germany – The Answer To An Old Question Essay, Research Paper
Thesis: This paper will argue that Germany needs to secure itself as
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.
II. Historical Perspective-The two negative factors
A. Fear – twice in one century
1) Bismarck/Frederick II
III. Reunification – The Key
A. Economic realities
1) E. Germany’s status
B. The significance of one Germany
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
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
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
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 has
been altered and used for rather devious measures. Adolf Hitler is the
best example of this. Germans are unique as are all races in and
outside of Europe. However, Nietchzsche saw that perhaps the German
people possessed a quality not of superiority, as the “Uber Mensch”; but
rather analogically speaking of the Germans in Europe as a whole. That
“properly integrated” means a strong Germany both economically and
politically, not hiding behind checkbook or its constitution.
Thus, after over 120 years Germany has seen mush change and
German power is on the rise again. This paper has illustrated the past
struggles of Germany which has affected the world. The reach for power
by attempting to establish an empire under the Kaiser and the
militaristic expansionism shown by Adolf Hitler both ended in conflict
bring the world to war and Germany to its knees. The new battle Germany
faces is the reunification process, Eastern Europe and the European
Union. All of these three factors are crucial in the future of Germany.
As argued in this paper Germany needs to establish itself as a stable
and reliable support for Europe under the auspices of the European
Union. The success of the European Union and the economic development
of Eastern Europe are in direct relation and dependant on that event.
Patrick J. Hearden, Roosevelt Confronts Hitler:
America’s Entry into World War II, (Dekalb, I.L.: Northern Illinois
University Press, 1987), p. 189.
Hans J. Morganthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for
Power and Peace, 6th ed. revised. Kenneth W. Thompson (McGraw Hill,
Inc., 1985), p. 67.
Michael Ignatieff, Blood And Belonging: Journeys into the New
Nationalism, ( New York, N.Y.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983), p. 57.
Friedrich Nietzche, Beyond Good andEvil, trans. R.J.Hollingdale
(London: Penguin Books, 1973), p.170.
Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, “Foreign Political Aid: the German
political foundations and their US counterparts,” International Affairs
67 (January 1991) : p.33-64.