The year 2009 is a big year for
My mother fled the Russians with my brother and me in the waning days of WW II. I remember bits and pieces of Germany in rubble after the war, walking to a British soup kitchen with a lunch pail, stealing some coal from the Brits with my little handcart, only having enough to eat because my grandfather bred chickens and we had a big vegetable garden. There wasn't that much destruction in the little town in
Two more things I remember vividly: The 2 Pfennig blue stamp we put on each letter and postcard to help
While we did not have an abundance to eat, we did not go to bed hungry, unlike the people of
One of the reasons for the action of the Soviets was that the Western Allies (the Americans, for that matter, represented by Gen. Clay) were in the process of setting up a new currency system in the Western part of the country and started to establish the rules for a German government. This is how, in August 1948, 33 selected people (lawyers, intellectuals and members of democratic parties) met on the island of Herrnchiemsee on the Chiemsee lake in Bavaria and ironed out a Constitution for Germany, the so called „Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch“ (BGB, or common law). They did that in only 13 days of seclusion, despite minimal provision of food and drink, in an effort which some people have compared, because of its significance, to the generation of the Constitution of the
This was, therefore, the starting point for two German States, established under very different sets of rules. And exactly here lies a very interesting point in study: What happened to these two States which started from the same German people, but implemented with opposite political systems? We saw the results almost 40 years later.
Because of the rapid build-up after the war,
wealthy and prosperous, life was excellent. The country grew and flourished until, after about 25 years, and because of a creeping social system which finally went too far, it became rather complacent. When I came back to work with a German company in the 90’s after 15 years of working in foreign countries, I couldn’t believe what I saw – the drive and productivity exhibited by the people during those great years after the war was replaced by an entitlement mentality. If government pay for unemployment is of the same order as a normal salary, the system goes bankrupt and morale suffers. In addition, the burden on companies became so large and employee 'protection' so far reaching, that companies avoided hiring additional personnel and started to relocate company headquarters and production. What
had happened? The conservative government had been replaced by a socialist government, and the subsequent conservative government failed to turn these policies around. The subsequent socialist/Green party government made matters worse, and
At the same time after the war, East Germany implemented the communist system under pressure and direction by the Soviets, where everything was owned by the State and planned through a central government organization, and everybody was „equal“, except, of course, the government and party officials who had all the nicest amenities in life. But the rest of the population was suppressed, spied upon (even for trying to listen to Western radio or TV to find out about the West), and had to eat or consume only what the planning department made available, after the officials had been served, of course.
After the wall opened in 1989, the people of the West were stunned to see the results of 40 years of communism. East Germany was an absolute mess on all levels, personal, infrastructure, government, everything.
Here are lessons for the current situation in the
1. The difference of the social and economic situation between East and West Germany provides clear evidence that the free market system is far superior than a state planned economy or, as otherwise expressed – communism/socialism don’t work.
2. A free society like
3. As can be recognized from the evolution in
4. The effect of communism takes at least two generations to reverse.
While Germany is working hard to re-unify the country and to bring increased individual responsibility back to the country through a reversal of excessive social benefits, the United States is doing exactly the opposite under Obama. Each and every one of the actions of this government goes in the direction which East Germany took after WW II, and that does not only include economic actions, such as the nationalizing of companies and putting companies at a disadvantage relative to the unions, but affecting society through trying to suppress civil discourse through the help of the mass media as the fifth column.
While Germany would not have survived the pressure from the Soviets without the unbelievable help of the United States after WW II, maybe the time has come that the U.S. should look back to Germany to see how the West prospered under conservative direction and how the East ruined itself under the Socialist/Communist regime. Same people, same genes, same history; but what a difference under two distinctly different ideologies. America, please benefit from Germany's past. We owe it to you.
By Mr. Z