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Low-key ceremony marks German reunification 30 years on

Blackadder1916

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Low-key ceremony marks German reunification 30 years on
https://www.dw.com/en/low-key-ceremony-marks-german-reunification-30-years-on/av-55146863
As Germany marks 30 years of reunification, the country's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave the keynote speech at the official ceremony in Potsdam, near Berlin. The event was significantly scaled down due to the coronavirus pandemic.


https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/10/03/thirty-years-after-reunification-germany-is-shouldering-more-responsibility
The sleeping giant wakes up
Thirty years after reunification, Germany is shouldering more responsibility  But it has a lot more to do

Oct 3rd 2020 edition

Margaret thatcher feared and openly opposed the reunification of East and West Germany. François Mitterrand was said to have shared her worries, though he accepted it was inevitable. Giulio Andreotti repeated a popular quip: that he loved Germany so much, he “preferred it when there were two of them”. Yet despite the reservations of the British, French and Italian leaders in 1990, a new country came into being 30 years ago on October 3rd. With 80m people, it was immediately the most populous country and mightiest economy in a Europe that until then had had four roughly equal principals. Ever since, statesmen and scholars have grappled with the problem of how to deal with the reluctant hegemon at the heart of Europe. How should Germany lead without dominating? Indeed, after the enormities of Nazism, can it be trusted to lead at all?

Thirty years on, German reunification has been a resounding success. East Germans were freed from the dull yoke of communism. With just three chancellors in three decades, the new, liberated Germany has been steady and pragmatic. It has championed the expansion of the European Union to the east and the creation of the euro. It has powered solid if unspectacular growth across a continent—at least until covid-19. Europe survived the economic crisis of 2007-08, the euro panic of 2010-12 and the migration surge of 2015-16. Germany has thrown its weight around less than sceptics feared, though indebted southern Europeans are still sore about crisis-era austerity.

Under its next chancellors, Germany needs more ambition. The need is most acute when it comes to security. Military spending is rising in Germany, but remains far below the 2% of gdp that nato members are supposed to contribute. Even within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats this is a touchy issue; it is even more so for her coalition partners, the Social Democrats, and for the Greens, who may help form the ruling coalition after next year’s election. More important, Germany has been too cautious in its policy towards Russia and China, tending to put commercial interests ahead of geopolitical ones. The construction of Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany, is a case in point. It undermines the interests of Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states, but until now Mrs Merkel has refused to cancel it, despite the outrageous behaviour of President Vladimir Putin. Nor has she listened much to those in her own party who warn that it is too risky to allow Huawei, a Chinese firm, to supply Germany with 5g telecoms equipment.

Still, there are signs of a shift. This week it emerged that Mrs Merkel had gone to visit the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in hospital in Berlin, where he was recovering from being poisoned (by himself, Mr Putin claims). Huawei is to face steeper bureaucratic hurdles in Germany than previously envisaged, and Mrs Merkel is showing doubts, albeit faint, about Nord Stream 2. She increasingly accepts Emmanuel Macron’s argument that America is becoming an uncertain ally, and that Europe will have to do more to help itself no matter who wins November’s presidential election. This does not yet add up to a more assertive Germany leading a more assertive Europe, but it is a shift in the right direction.

Likewise, Germany needs to do more on the economic front. The pandemic has accomplished what the euro crisis did not, forcing the EU’s richer countries to show more solidarity with the poorer. The agreement over the summer to set up a €750bn ($880bn) recovery fund to be financed by common debt has been a crucial shift that Germany until recently would not have allowed. More than half of the fund will be given as grants rather than adding yet more debt to the highly indebted. The fund may yet be delayed; but it is a sign that Germany is at long last shouldering its responsibilities. More of this will be needed in the next 30 years if Europe’s currency union, and perhaps even the EU itself, are to survive. But the Bundesrepublik is growing up.


How time flies.  Thirty years ago, I was in "West" Germany.  The following day, I was in Germany.  The brigade was on FALLEX, we had already completed the first phase in the Hohenfels training area and were out in the RMA.  The order for the day was to suspend all activities, no training, no movement, hunker down in hides, only essential (read emergency) vehicle traffic and specifically, no going into villages to visit gasthofs.
 

dapaterson

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Does "low key" in the context of Germany mean that they've invaded the low countries?
 

daftandbarmy

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And yet, 'East Germany' still struggles....

East Germany has narrowed economic gap with West Germany since fall of communism, but still lags

The fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago this week brought far-reaching social and economic changes to communist East Germany, and people on both sides of the former barrier say the changes that have occurred since 1989 have had a positive influence on living standards in their country, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. But that does not mean the former East and West Germany are on equal economic footing today.

Despite substantial improvements in recent decades, the former East Germany continues to trail the former West Germany on important economic measures ranging from unemployment to productivity, according to an annual German government report on the “status of German unity.” (The most recent version of the report, from September, is available here in German. The 2018 version of the report is available here in English.)

Here is a look at how economic conditions in the former East and West Germany have changed over time, how they compare today and how people in the two areas perceive these differences. All findings are based on data from the German government’s 2019 report, as well as the Center’s recent survey.

Unemployment is persistently higher in the former East Germany than in the former West. In 2018, the average unemployment rate was 6.9% in the six states of the former East Germany, compared with 4.8% in the 10 states of the former West Germany. (In all economic statistics in this analysis, Berlin is counted in East Germany, even though the city was divided during communism and is not directly comparable to other parts of East Germany.)

East-West differences in unemployment rates cut across demographic lines including age and gender. Among people ages 15 to 24, for example, the average unemployment rate in the former East Germany was 7.7% in 2018, compared with 4.1% in the former West. And while 7.5% of East Germans ages 55 to 64 were unemployed in 2018, the share was 5.3% among West Germans in the same age range.

Despite these differences, the former East has narrowed the gap with the former West substantially in recent decades. In the early 2000s, the unemployment rate was about 10 percentage points higher in the former East than in the former West – nearly five times the gap in 2018.

People in the former East Germany earn less than their counterparts in the former West. Total compensation, gross wages and salaries, and disposable (or after-tax) income have long been lower in the former East Germany than in the former West, according to the government’s report.

In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, per-capita disposable income was €19,909 per year in the former East Germany – the equivalent of about $22,500 based on the average euro-to-dollar exchange rate that year. By comparison, disposable income in the former West Germany was €23,283 a year, or about $26,300.

Put another way, people in the former East Germany earned 86% the after-tax income of their West German counterparts in 2017. That percentage has changed little in recent years, but is far higher than in 1991, when per-capita disposable income in the former East was only 61% of that in the former West.

The former East Germany trails the former West in productivity. The former East has a much smaller population than the former West (about 16 million people, compared with about 67 million), but its productivity is also lower when adjusted for population differences. Per-capita gross domestic product was €32,108 in the former East German states in 2018, compared with €42,971 in the former West German states. Productivity in the East, in other words, was 75% of productivity in the West on a per-capita basis.

Five of the six states in the former East Germany – with the exception of the city-state of Berlin – had lower per-capita productivity in 2018 than the West German state with the lowest per-capita productivity, Schleswig-Holstein.

The government’s report points to several possible factors for the worse economic conditions in East Germany, including the lack of major companies headquartered there.

“Today, not a single east German company is listed on the DAX-30, the nation’s leading stock exchange index,” the report notes. “And almost no major companies have their headquarters in East Germany. Many East German businesses are part of western German or foreign corporations.”

While its per-capita productivity remains lower than that of West Germany, the former East Germany has made major gains since unification. In 1991, per-capita productivity in the former East was less than half (43%) of productivity in the former West.

Germans in both areas say living standards in the former East have not yet caught up with those in the former West. Around three-quarters of people in the former East Germany (74%) and around two-thirds of those in the former West (66%) say the East still has not achieved the same living standards as the West, according to the Center’s recent survey, which was conducted among representative samples of adults in both areas as part of a larger study of Europe.

People in the former East Germany are also less optimistic than their counterparts in the former West on a variety of measures, including whether children today will grow up to be better off financially than their parents. In the former East, 42% of adults say the next generation will be better off, compared with 50% in the West who say this.



https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/11/06/east-germany-has-narrowed-economic-gap-with-west-germany-since-fall-of-communism-but-still-lags/
 

FJAG

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There are several factors worth remembering when looking at each of these articles:

1. after the start of the industrial age eastern Germany and southern Germany were always relatively poorer than their northwestern neighbours since they were principally agricultural. Germany's major coal deposits (its primary energy source) was in the northwest so heavy industry and its various associated industries developed mostly there;

2. immediately after WW2 the Soviets removed any existing factories, machinery, railroads etc from East Germany to Russia as compensation. East Germans lost much of their German industriousness and capitalist experience under communist rule while West Germany went through the "economic miracle";

3. Germans suffered greatly from massive inflation during the interwar years and as such still have a very narrow viewpoint as to deficit spending, loans etc.;

4. As a result of the wars, Germans have a very anti-militaristic attitude as a society in general. They are literally worried that any move towards a military buildup or becoming pushy in the international community will be seen by that community as a resurgence of German imperialism/militarism and as such they tend to restrain themselves;

5. Germany used to be short of workers and therefore imported cheap labour, mostly from Turkey for decades. During the refugee crisis of 2015/16, Germany took in an additional 1.3 million, mostly Muslim, refugees; and

6. Coal is still the dominant electric power source in Germany. It is trying desperately to reduce reliance on coal. There is great opposition to expanding nuclear; wind is up and coming but isn't doing as well as they'd like, and hydro is negligible so turning to Russian gas is seen as a reasonable intermediate until more renewables come on stream.

:cheers:
 

daftandbarmy

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FJAG said:
6. Coal is still the dominant electric power source in Germany. It is trying desperately to reduce reliance on coal. There is great opposition to expanding nuclear; wind is up and coming but isn't doing as well as they'd like, and hydro is negligible so turning to Russian gas is seen as a reasonable intermediate until more renewables come on stream.

:cheers:

And we have Germany to thank for the Green Party, born in the West German parliament which, along with other change management challenges,  will continue to dog their efforts at energy modernization:

The Tragedy of Germany’s Energy Experiment
The country is moving beyond nuclear power. But at what cost?

HAMBURG, Germany — Are the Germans irrational? Steven Pinker seems to think so. Professor Pinker, a Harvard psychologist, told the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel recently that if mankind wanted to stop climate change without stopping economic growth too, the world needed more nuclear energy, not less. Germany’s decision to step out of nuclear, he agreed, was “paranoid.”

My country has embarked on a unique experiment indeed. The Merkel government has decided to phase out both nuclear power and coal plants. The last German reactor is scheduled to shut down by the end of 2022, the last coal-fired plant by 2038. At the same time, the government has encouraged the purchase of climate-friendly electric cars — increasing the demand for electrical power. And despite efforts to save energy in the past decades, Germany’s power consumption has grown by 10 percent since 1990.

Skeptics fear that the country is on a risky path. Sufficient renewable energy sources might not be available in time to compensate for the loss of fossil and nuclear power. Though renewables account for around 40 percent of Germany’s electricity supply, there are limits to further expansion, for reasons that are political rather than technological.

In some rural parts of Germany, people are fed up with ever growing “wind parks”; more citizens are protesting new — and often taller — wind turbines in their neighborhoods. And there is growing resistance to the new paths needed to transport electricity from coasts to industrial centers. According to official calculations, close to 3,700 miles of new power lines are required to make Germany’s “Energiewende,” or energy revolution, work. By the end of 2018, only 93 miles had been built.

The plan risks more than a shortfall in supply. It could also prevent the country from dealing with climate change. By shutting down nuclear plants faster than those for coal, Germany may consign itself to dependence on fossil fuels, and all the damage to the climate they cause, for longer than necessary. Nevertheless, Germans’ opposition to nuclear power endures: 60 percent of them want to get rid of it as soon as possible.

A return to nuclear appears to be completely unthinkable for the Green Party, the probable future coalition partner of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats. The Greens have their roots in the antinuclear movement of the early 1980s: Resistance against nuclear power is in the party’s DNA. But so is the fight against climate change.



https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/08/opinion/nuclear-power-germany.html
 

FJAG

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I guess for Germany disposal of spent nuclear fuel is an issue. For Canada, however, we have billions of acres of Canadian Shield to put it into (and I don't think that the edge of Lake Huron is one of those).

Living in SW Ontario you get a lot of wind farms and I don't really feel too offended by them. What offends me about them is the ridiculous high-priced contracts the Wynne government gave out to developers.

Been a fan of Small Modular Reactors for some time now for places where hydro power isn't practical.

:cheers:
 

tomahawk6

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Cant have a ceremony without the band playing  Prussian Glory !!

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=prussian+gloria&docid=608042978556054047&mid=05AD398C1C4670A2E6DB05AD398C1C4670A2E6DB&view=detail&FORM=VIRE
 

FJAG

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tomahawk6 said:
Cant have a ceremony without the band playing  Prussian Glory !!

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=prussian+gloria&docid=608042978556054047&mid=05AD398C1C4670A2E6DB05AD398C1C4670A2E6DB&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

The Wachbataillon provides the vast majority of all military ceremonial formations and has a very set drill/ceremonial format which includes a series of marches that are played while the honour guard marches onto the parade square. The routine is generally a fife and drum intro and then one or more of "Preussens Gloria", Yorkscher Marsch", Koniggratzer Marsch", or "Hohenfriedlerger Marsch" all of which well precede the Nazi era.

And interesting thing is that during the East German era, the East German honour guard (The Friedrich Engels Guard Regiment) played the same marches and still used the old Prussian Army drill formations (now famously seen during the Ejercito Chile's annual Gran Parada Miltar Chile)

I may be showing some prejudice here but some of the older European marches are much better than many of the British and North American military music.

I always thought that if our church parades had been more like this, I might have enjoyed them more.

Or this for our Rifle battalions.

;D
 

Halifax Tar

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FJAG said:
The Wachbataillon provides the vast majority of all military ceremonial formations and has a very set drill/ceremonial format which includes a series of marches that are played while the honour guard marches onto the parade square. The routine is generally a fife and drum intro and then one or more of "Preussens Gloria", Yorkscher Marsch", Koniggratzer Marsch", or "Hohenfriedlerger Marsch" all of which well precede the Nazi era.

And interesting thing is that during the East German era, the East German honour guard (The Friedrich Engels Guard Regiment) played the same marches and still used the old Prussian Army drill formations (now famously seen during the Ejercito Chile's annual Gran Parada Miltar Chile)

I may be showing some prejudice here but some of the older European marches are much better than many of the British and North American military music.

I always thought that if our church parades had been more like this, I might have enjoyed them more.

Or this for our Rifle battalions.

;D

You owe me a new keyboard lol
 
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