Fearing attack, Germany put into action a strategy known as the Schrieffer Plan, and declared4var on both Russia and France. The plan was designed to knock out France (Russia’s ally) before the Russians completed mobilisation.
As German troops crossed into neutral Belgium, as a preliminary to attacking France, the UK – as a guarantor of Belgium’s independence – declared war on Germany. The war lasted from 1914 to 1918, with Germany, Austria and Turkey ranged against a worldwide alliance.
The Western Front quickly became bogged down in trench warfare, and the balance of power between the two sides only shifted in favour of the allies, when the USA entered the war against Germany in 1917.
On the Eastern Front Russia dissolved into revolutionary chaos (1917) and the Germans took the opportunity to attack with decisive results. By August 1918, Austrian and Turkish power was broken and the Germans were isolated. With public confidence at home evaporating, Germany surrendered in November 1918.
After World War II, divided Germany lost substantial territories to Poland, and was divided – as was its capital, Berlin— into four zones of occupation by the Allies (Britain France, the USA and the USSR). Their intention was a divided, disarmed Germany, but cooperation between the Allies rapidly broke down, and in 1948-49 the USSR blockaded West Berlin.
The western zones of Germany were merged economically in 1948. After the merger of the western zones to form the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic was proclaimed in the Soviet zone (October 1949).
The GDR’s economic progress suffered in comparison with that of the Federal Republic. Food shortages and repressive Communist rule led to an uprising in 1953. West Germany gained sovereignty as a member of the Western alliance – in 1955.
In the late 1980s, West Germany acted as an economic and cultural magnet for much of Eastern Europe. The root causes of the GDR’s problems persisted and resurfaced in the late 1980s. The aging Communist leadership led by Erich Honecker proved irresponsive to the mood of greater freedom emanating from Gorbachov’s USSR.
In 1989 fresh exodus of East Germans took place to the West by way of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Massive public demonstrations in favour of reform led by the New Forum opposition movement – resulted in the appointment of a new leader.
The Berlin Wall was reopened (November 1989) allowing free movement between the two Germanys, but demonstrations in favour of more radical change continued, prompting a further change of leadership. A non-Communist president, a new Prime Minister, and a government including members of opposition groups were appointed. Free elections were held in East Germany in March 1990.
When the East German economy collapsed. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl proposed the monetary union of the two countries. The call for German reunification became imperative. Despite the initial opposition of the USSR, the reunification of Germany as a full EC (Now EU) and NATO member was agreed.
German reunification took place on 3rd October, 1990 and all-German elections took place in December 1990. Soviet troops withdrew from the former GDR in 1994. Reunited Germany is the greatest economic power in Europe, and, after Russia, the most populous State. Chancellor Helmut Kohl completed his 16 years in power in Oct.’ 98; thereby overtaking the period of the first Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who ruled Germany from 1949 to 1963.
Germany was most enthusiastic about an European Union. It alone could allow the nationalism so intensively displayed by the various European countries, especially Germany itself, to be surrendered to the EU. The German unification in 1990, it is now revealed, wasn’t so smooth.
Ms. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain, also the French President was not very enthusiastic about the united Germany. In Sept/Oct 2009 new facts indicate that they both requested Soviet President Gorbachev to delay or avoid the German unification.
Germany did become the most powerful country of Europe and the third largest economy of the world (it has now been replaced by the Peoples Republic of China-Germany is now relegated to the status of, fourth largest economy of the world).
Gerhard Schroeder was elected as Chancellor of Germany in Sept. 98, thereby ending the prolonged 16-year rule of the Christian Democrats under Helmut Kohl. He was re-elected in 2002. Angela Merkel became the first woman Chancellor of Germany in 2006, when she defeated Gerhard Schroeder.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, has been facing trenchant criticism over her handling of human rights in Russia and China; and according to her critics losing out the growing markets of the two countries much to loss of Germany. Merkel received the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, in September 07 in the Chancellery.
Since then, China has retaliated by cancelling high-level meetings. It has not taken any measures against Canada, Australia or the United States whose leaders also met with the Dalai Lama. Chinese retaliation has not affected German business; it has been exploited by some inside the leadership of the Social Democrats.
As the junior partner in the coalition, the Social Democrats are no longer supporting Merkel’s foreign policy, which emphasises on human rights and European values. The disunity inside the German coalition sends completely the wrong signal to other EU member states.
In the business community, there is a growing concern that the dispute between Germany and China could escalate but there is also nostalgia for former Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democratic-led government, which actively promoted trade ties with Russia and China while disregarding human rights.
Schroeder has also stepped up his criticism. He has accused Merkel of being too emotional and said that her past-Merkel was raised in the former communist East Germany-had influenced her foreign policy. It may be mentioned here that Schroeder is on the pay roll of Gazprom, the Russian giant which is building a Russian-German gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
In Jan. 2010, Merkal committed 500 more troops, to the ISAJ in Afghanistan to control the growing power of the Taliban. The German President visited India in January 2010 & inaugurated the Polo model of the giant in Pune. His visit further cemented the ties between the two countries.