1945: A Turning Point Of Modern European History

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1945: A Turning Point Of Modern European History



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Marci Shore: Turning points in European History. 1914-1939-1945-1989-2004

Stalin ordered all Russians strong enough to hold a rifle to take up arms in defense of the city. From late August through the end of the assault, the Luftwaffe conducted dozens of air strikes on the city. The number of civilian casualties is unknown. By September, the Luftwaffe essentially had control of the skies over Stalingrad, and the Russians were getting desperate. Workers in the city not involved in war-related weapons production were soon asked to take up fighting, often without firearms of their own. Women were enlisted to dig trenches at the front lines. And yet, the Russians continued to suffer heavy losses. By the fall of , Stalingrad was in ruins.

Despite heavy casualties and the pounding delivered by the Luftwaffe, Stalin instructed his forces in the city to not retreat, famously decreeing in Order No. Russian generals Georgy Zhukov and Aleksandr Vasilevsky organized Russian troops in the mountains to the north and west of the city. From there, they launched a counterattack, famously known as Operation Uranus. Although they again sustained significant losses, Russian forces were able to form what in essence was a defensive ring around the city by late November , trapping the nearly , German and Axis troops in the 6th Army. This effort became the subject of a propaganda film produced after the war, The Battle of Stalingrad. With the Russian blockade limiting access to supplies, German forces trapped in Stalingrad slowly starved.

The Russians would seize upon the resulting weakness during the cold, harsh winter months that followed. They began consolidating their positions around Stalingrad, choking off the German forces from vital supplies and essentially surrounding them in an ever-tightening noose. Thanks to Russian gains in nearby fighting, including in Rostov-on-Don, miles from Stalingrad, the Axis forces — mostly Germans and Italians — were stretched thin. Through Operation Little Saturn, the Russians began to break the lines of mostly Italian forces to the west of the city. The conservative Bild-Zeitung waged a massive campaign against the protesters who were declared to be just hooligans and thugs in the pay of East Germany. The press baron Axel Springer emerged as one of the principal hate figures for the student protesters because of Bild-Zeitung' s often violent attacks on them.

Protests against the US intervention in Vietnam, mingled with anger over the vigor with which demonstrations were repressed, led to mounting militancy among the students at the universities of Berlin. One of the most prominent campaigners was a young man from East Germany called Rudi Dutschke who also criticised the forms of capitalism that were to be seen in West Berlin. Just before Easter , a young man tried to kill Dutschke as he bicycled to the student union, seriously injuring him.

All over West Germany, thousands demonstrated against the Springer newspapers which were seen as the prime cause of the violence against students. Trucks carrying newspapers were set on fire and windows in office buildings broken. In , the Bundestag passed a Misdemeanors Bill dealing with traffic misdemeanors, into which a high-ranking civil servant named Dr. Eduard Dreher who had been drafting the bill inserted a prefatory section to the bill under a very misleading heading that declared that henceforth there was a statute of limitations of 15 years from the time of the offense for the crime of being an accomplices to murder which was to apply retroactively, which made it impossible to prosecute war criminals even for being accomplices to murder since the statute of limitations as now defined for the last of the suspects had expired by The calling in question of the actions and policies of the government led to a new climate of debate by the late s.

The issues of emancipation, colonialism, environmentalism and grass roots democracy were discussed at all levels of society. Also of great significance was the steady growth of a feminist movement in which women demonstrated for equal rights. Until , a married woman had to have the permission of her husband if she wanted to take on a job or open a bank account. Parallel to this, a gay movement began to grow in the larger cities, especially in West Berlin, where homosexuality had been widely accepted during the twenties in the Weimar Republic. In , the Bundestag repealed the Nazi amendment to Paragraph , which not only made homosexual acts a felony, but had also made any expressions of homosexuality illegal before only gay sex had been illegal.

However, Paragraph which made homosexual acts illegal remained on the statute books and was not repealed until , although it had been softened in by making gay sex illegal only with those under the age of Anger over the treatment of demonstrators following the death of Benno Ohnesorg and the attack on Rudi Dutschke, coupled with growing frustration over the lack of success in achieving their aims, led to growing militancy among students and their supporters. In May , three young people set fire to two department stores in Frankfurt; they were brought to trial and made very clear to the court that they regarded their action as a legitimate act in what they described as the 'struggle against imperialism'.

Several groups set as their objective the aim of radicalizing the industrial workers and, taking an example from activities in Italy of the Brigade Rosse, many students went to work in the factories, but with little or no success. The most notorious of the underground groups was the 'Baader-Meinhof Group', later known as the Red Army Faction , which began by making bank raids to finance their activities and eventually went underground having killed a number of policemen, several bystanders and eventually two prominent West Germans, whom they had taken captive in order to force the release of prisoners sympathetic to their ideas. The "Baader-Meinhof gang" was committed to the overthrow of the Federal Republic via terrorism in order to achieve the establishment of a Communist state.

In the s attacks were still being committed under the name "RAF". The last action took place in and the group announced it was giving up its activities in Evidence that the groups had been infiltrated by German Intelligence undercover agents has since emerged, partly through the insistence of the son of one of their prominent victims, the State Counsel Buback. Although Chancellor for only just over four years, Brandt was one of the most popular politicians in the whole period. Brandt was a gifted speaker and the growth of the Social Democrats from there on was in no small part due to his personality. The issue of improving relations with Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany made for an increasingly aggressive tone in public debates but it was a huge step forward when Willy Brandt and the Foreign Minister, Walther Scheel FDP negotiated agreements with all three countries Moscow Agreement , August , Warsaw Agreement , December , Four-Power Agreement over the status of West Berlin in and an agreement on relations between West and East Germany , signed in December During a visit to Warsaw on 7 December , Brandt made the Warschauer Kniefall by kneeling before a monument to those killed in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising , a gesture of humility and penance that no German Chancellor had made until that time.

Brandt's contributions to world peace led to his winning the Nobel Peace Prize for Schmidt, a strong supporter of the European Community EC and the Atlantic alliance, emphasized his commitment to "the political unification of Europe in partnership with the USA". The industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer was kidnapped on 5 September in order to force the government to free the imprisoned leaders of the Baader-Meinhof Gang. On 18 October , the Lufthansa jet was stormed in Mogadishu by the GSG 9 commando unit, who were able to free the hostages. The same day, the leaders of the Baader-Meinhof gang, who had been waging a hunger strike, were found dead in their prison cells with gunshot wounds, which led to Schleyer being executed by his captors.

The deaths were controversially ruled suicides. That the Federal Republic had faced a crisis caused by a terrorist campaign from the radical left without succumbing to dictatorship as many feared that it would, was seen as vindication of the strength of German democracy. Genscher continued as Foreign Minister in the new Kohl government. Following national elections in March , Kohl emerged in firm control of both the government and the CDU.

In , despite major protests from peace groups, the Kohl government allowed Pershing II missiles to be stationed in the Federal Republic to counter the deployment of the SS cruise missiles by the Soviet Union in East Germany. In , Kohl, who had something of a tin ear when it came to dealing with the Nazi past, [ clarification needed ] caused much controversy when he invited President Ronald Reagan of the United States to visit the war cemetery at Bitburg to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Bitburg cemetery was soon revealed to contain the graves of SS men, which Kohl stated that he did not see as a problem and that to refuse to honor all of the dead of Bitburg including the SS men buried there was an insult to all Germans. Kohl stated that Reagan could come to the Federal Republic to hold a ceremony to honor the dead of Bitburg or not come at all, and that to change the venue of the service to another war cemetery that did not have SS men buried in it was not acceptable to him. Even more controversy was caused by Reagan's statement that all of the SS men killed fighting for Hitler in World War II were "just kids" who were just as much the victims of Hitler as those who been murdered by the SS in the Holocaust.

What was intended to promote German-American reconciliation turned out to be a public relations disaster that had the opposite effect. Despite or perhaps because of the Bitburg controversy, in a campaign had been started to build a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Berlin. The campaign to build a Holocaust memorial, which Germany until then lacked, was given a major boost in November by the call by television journalist Lea Rosh to build the memorial at the site for the former Gestapo headquarters. In January , the Kohl-Genscher government was returned to office, but the FDP and the Greens gained at the expense of the larger parties.

The Greens' share rose to 8. Unknown to Kohl, the meeting room had been bugged by the Stasi, and the Stasi tapes of the summit had Kohl saying to Honecker that he did not see any realistic chance of reunification in the foreseeable future. The October elections resulted in coalition governments in the five Land state parliaments with the SED as the undisputed leader. A series of people's congresses were called in and early by the SED. Under Soviet direction, a constitution was drafted on 30 May , and adopted on 7 October, the day when East Germany was formally proclaimed. The Soviet Union and its East European allies immediately recognized East Germany, although it remained largely unrecognized by noncommunist countries until — East Germany established the structures of a single-party, centralized, totalitarian communist state.

Even though other parties formally existed, effectively, all government control was in the hands of the SED, and almost all important government positions were held by SED members. The National Front was an umbrella organization nominally consisting of the SED, four other political parties controlled and directed by the SED, and the four principal mass organizations—youth, trade unions, women, and culture. However, control was clearly and solely in the hands of the SED. Balloting in East German elections was not secret. As in other Soviet bloc countries, electoral participation was consistently high, as the following results indicate. In October , a year after the formation of the GDR, Only 0. With the formation of a separate East German communist state in October , the Socialist Unity Party faced a huge range of problems.

Not only were the cities in ruins, much of the productive machinery and equipment had been seized by the Soviet occupation force and transported to The Soviet Union in order to make some kind of reconstruction possible. While West Germany received loans and other financial assistance from the United States, the GDR was in the role of an exporter of goods to the USSR—a role that its people could ill afford but which they could not avoid.

The S. These processes would occur step by step according to the laws of scientific 'Marxism-Leninism' and economic planning was the key to this process. In July , at a conference of the S. Industries would be nationalized and collectivization introduced in the farm industry. As a consequence, production fell, food became short and protests occurred in a number of factories. On 14 May , the S.

This decision was not popular with the new leaders in the Kremlin. Stalin had died in March and the new leadership was still evolving. The imposition of new production quotas contradicted the new direction of Soviet policies for their satellites. On 5 June , the S. The new production quotas remained; the East German workers protested and up to sixty strikes occurred the following day. One of the window-dressing projects in the ruins of East Berlin was the construction of Stalin Allee, on which the most 'class-conscious' workers in S. At a meeting, strikers declared "You give the capitalists the factory owners presents, and we are exploited! The crowd grew, demands were made for the removal of Ulbricht from office and a general strike called for the following day.

On 17 June strikes and demonstrations occurred in towns and cities in the GDR. Between , and , workers took part in the strikes, which were specifically directed towards the rescinding of the production quotas and were not an attempt to overthrow the government. The strikers were for the most part convinced that the transformation of the GDR into a socialist state was the proper course to take but that the S. Thousands were arrested, sentenced to jail and many hundreds were forced to leave for West Germany. The real face of the East German regime was revealed. Shortly after World War II , Berlin became the seat of the Allied Control Council, which was to have governed Germany as a whole until the conclusion of a peace settlement.

In , however, the Soviet Union refused to participate any longer in the quadripartite administration of Germany. They also refused to continue the joint administration of Berlin and drove the government elected by the people of Berlin out of its seat in the Soviet sector and installed a communist regime in East Berlin. From then until unification, the Western Allies continued to exercise supreme authority—effective only in their sectors—through the Allied Kommandatura.

To the degree compatible with the city's special status, however, they turned over control and management of city affairs to the West Berlin Senate and the House of Representatives , governing bodies established by constitutional process and chosen by free elections. During the years of West Berlin's isolation— kilometers mi. Representatives of the city participated as non-voting members in the West German Parliament; appropriate West German agencies, such as the supreme administrative court, had their permanent seats in the city; and the governing mayor of West Berlin took his turn as President of the Bundesrat.

In addition, the Allies carefully consulted with the West German and West Berlin Governments on foreign policy questions involving unification and the status of Berlin. Between and , major events such as fairs and festivals were sponsored in West Berlin, and investment in commerce and industry was encouraged by special concessionary tax legislation. The results of such efforts, combined with effective city administration and the West Berliners' energy and spirit, were encouraging. West Berlin's morale was sustained, and its industrial production considerably surpassed the pre-war level. Under the terms of the treaty between West and East Germany, Berlin became the capital of a unified Germany.

The Bundestag voted in June to make Berlin the seat of government. The Government of Germany asked the Allies to maintain a military presence in Berlin until the complete withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces ex-Soviet from the territory of the former East Germany. The Russian withdrawal was completed 31 August Ceremonies were held on 8 September , to mark the final departure of Western Allied troops from Berlin. Government offices have been moving progressively to Berlin, and it became the formal seat of the federal government in Under Chancellor Adenauer , West Germany declared its right to speak for the entire German nation with an exclusive mandate. The Hallstein Doctrine involved non-recognition of East Germany and restricted or often ceased diplomatic relations with countries that gave East Germany the status of a sovereign state.

On 13 August , East Germany began building the Berlin Wall around West Berlin to slow the flood of refugees to a trickle, effectively cutting the city in half and making West Berlin an enclave of the Western world in communist territory. The Wall became the symbol of the Cold War and the division of Europe. Shortly afterward, the main border between the two German states was fortified. The Letter of Reconciliation of the Polish Bishops to the German Bishops of was controversial at the time, but is now seen as an important step toward improving relations between the German states and Poland.

In , Chancellor Willy Brandt announced that West Germany would remain firmly rooted in the Atlantic alliance but would intensify efforts to improve relations with the Eastern Bloc, especially East Germany. West Germany commenced this Ostpolitik , initially under fierce opposition from the conservatives, by negotiating nonaggression treaties with the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Hungary. West Germany's relations with East Germany posed particularly difficult questions. Though anxious to relieve serious hardships for divided families and to reduce friction, West Germany under Brandt's Ostpolitik was intent on holding to its concept of "two German states in one German nation.

In the early s, the Ostpolitik led to a form of mutual recognition between East and West Germany. The two German states exchanged permanent representatives in , and, in , East German head of state Erich Honecker paid an official visit to West Germany. International plans for the unification of Germany were made during the early years following the establishment of the two states, but to no avail. In March , the Soviet government proposed the Stalin Note to hold elections for a united German assembly while making the proposed united Germany a neutral state, i.

The Western Allied governments refused this initiative, while continuing West Germany's integration into the Western alliance system. The issue was raised again during the Foreign Ministers' Conference in Berlin in January—February , but the western powers refused to make Germany neutral. During the summer of , rapid changes took place in East Germany, which ultimately led to German reunification. Widespread discontent boiled over, following accusations of large scale vote-rigging during the local elections of May The event, which goes back to an idea by Otto von Habsburg , caused the mass exodus of GDR citizens, the media-informed East German population felt the loss of power of their rulers, and the Iron Curtain started to break down completely.

Erich Honecker explained to the Daily Mirror regarding the Paneuropean picnic and thus showed his people his own inaction: "Habsburg distributed leaflets far into Poland, on which the East German holidaymakers were invited to a picnic. When they came to the picnic, they were given gifts, food and Deutsche Mark, and then they were persuaded to come to the West. Thousands of East Germans also tried to reach the West by staging sit-ins at West German diplomatic facilities in other East European capitals.

The exodus generated demands within East Germany for political change, and mass demonstrations Monday demonstrations with eventually hundreds of thousands of people in several cities—particularly in Leipzig —continued to grow. On 7 October, the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited Berlin to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of East Germany and urged the East German leadership to pursue reform, without success.

The movement of civil resistance against the East German regime—both the emigration and the demonstrations—continued unabated. But the exodus continued unabated, and pressure for political reform mounted. Finally, on 9 November , the Berlin Wall was opened, and East Germans were allowed to travel freely. Thousands poured through the wall into the western sectors of Berlin, and on 12 November, East Germany began dismantling it. On 28 November, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl outlined the Point Plan for the peaceful unification of the two German states, based on free elections in East Germany and a unification of their two economies.

The SED changed its name to the Party of Democratic Socialism PDS and the formation and growth of numerous political groups and parties marked the end of the communist system. Prime Minister Hans Modrow headed a caretaker government which shared power with the new, democratically oriented parties. On 7 December , an agreement was reached to hold free elections in May and rewrite the East German constitution.

On 28 January, all the parties agreed to advance the elections to 18 March, primarily because of an erosion of state authority and because the East German exodus was continuing apace; more than , left in January and February In early February , the Modrow government's proposal for a unified, neutral German state was rejected by Chancellor Kohl, who affirmed that a unified Germany must be a member of NATO. The freely elected representatives of the Volkskammer held their first session on 5 April, and East Germany peacefully evolved from a communist to a democratically elected government.

On 1 July, the two German states entered into an economic and monetary union. This was accomplished in July when the alliance, led by President George H. In addition to terminating Four Power rights, the treaty mandated the withdrawal of all Soviet forces from Germany by the end of , made clear that the current borders especially the Oder-Neisse line were viewed as final and definitive, and specified the right of a united Germany to belong to NATO.

It also provided for the continued presence of British, French, and American troops in Berlin during the interim period of the Soviet withdrawal. In the treaty, the Germans renounced nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and stated their intention to reduce the combined German armed forces to , within 3 to 4 years after the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe , signed in Paris on 19 November , entered into force.

The conclusion of the final settlement cleared the way for the unification of East and West Germany. Formal political union occurred on 3 October , preceded by the GDR declaring its accession to the Federal Republic through Article 23 of West Germany's Basic Law meaning that constitutionally, East Germany was subsumed into West Germany ; but affected in strict legality through the subsequent Unification Treaty of 30 August , which was voted into their constitutions by both the West German Bundestag and the East German Volkskammer on 20 September On 2 December , all-German elections were held for the first time since The "new" country stayed the same as the West German legal system and institutions were extended to the east.

The unified nation kept the name Bundesrepublik Deutschland though the simple 'Deutschland' would become increasingly common and retained the West German "Deutsche Mark" for currency as well. Berlin would formally become the capital of the united Germany, but the political institutions remained at Bonn for the time being. Only after a heated debate did the Bundestag conclude on moving itself and most of the government to Berlin as well, a process that took until to complete, when the Bundestag held its first session at the reconstructed Reichstag building.

Many government departments still maintain sizable presences in Bonn as of To this day, there remain vast differences between the former East Germany and West Germany for example, in lifestyle, wealth, political beliefs, and other matters and thus it is still common to speak of eastern and western Germany distinctly. The eastern German economy has struggled since unification, and large subsidies are still transferred from west to east. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from History of Germany — Aspect of history.

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Texts sent Pulp Fiction Narrative me for inclusion. He is American Political History: The Progressive Era to be the Archbishop of Canterbury civil disobedience meaning brings the learning from the Roman Civil disobedience meaning to England. A European-style banking system was also introduced.