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What were the impacts of WW2 on Germany? Obviously the war meant that a lot of resources were spent and that the youth population was significantly reduced. How did this affect Germany's post war economy and the life of people in general? Were the Germans discriminated against thereafter for being supportive of the Nazi regime while they were under it?

  • Welcome to the site. An upvote to get you started. – Tom Au Feb 1 '12 at 14:23
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    Whoa... a good question with some great answers! Just what is needed to give one's spirits a lift after that "2 revolutions" swamp of a question. +1 to you and everyone who asnwered! – DVK Feb 1 '12 at 15:28
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    it is a reasonable question but a bit broad per history.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask "Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." – Jeff Atwood Feb 1 '12 at 18:20
  • While I might sympathise, this is not an answer. – o0'. Feb 28 '12 at 8:24
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This is a pretty big question; entire books have been written on the subject of postwar Germany. You might want to narrow it down. I'll take a shot at the discrimination portion:

While there was a lot of resentment towards the Axis peoples, the growing rivalry between Russia and the western Allies changed the dynamics a lot. American leaders took a more pragmatic view than the general citizenry. Even before the war ended they were working to soften public attitudes towards the German people, as opposed to the Nazi leadership.

They did this because they wanted, at all costs, to limit the spread of both Communism and Russian power (which they thought were closely related, but that's another issue entirely :P).

They knew that the harsh settlement after WWI, coupled with the worldwide Depression of the 30s, had had a lot to do with the popular support for Naziism; and they worried that another long period of suffering could make the German population go Communist.

Moreover, they needed to prepare for a possible war with Russia, which meant fortifying the areas they'd occupied. Germany ended up being partitioned, with the Russians controlling the east and the western Allies taking the West (incidentally, Korea's division into North and South happened at the same time and for the same reason).

The western Allies, especially America, knew that if there was to be another shooting war, it would likely be along this border. They wanted the local economy to be both able and willing to support the capitalist faction if that happened. So, the western Allies invested a lot in reconstructing the German economy. In America, the money for reconstructing Europe (not just Germany, though that was a lot of it) was called the Marshall plan.

They sold the idea to their populations by downplaying the responsibility of average citizens in the former Axis countries. There were certainly elements of the population that would've preferred to take a more punitive stance, but the combination of moral and practical considerations made the Marshall plan reasonably popular.

Of course, even with that help, conditions in Germany (and a lot of other places) were quite rough for the decade or so following WWII. But again, that's a subject for a bookshelf, not a single post.

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    Signed up just to vote you up! :) – bitmask Feb 1 '12 at 21:55
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    Oh, I like you already :D – Rose Ames Feb 2 '12 at 0:24
  • Voting you up because 1) This is a very good answer, and 2) You are close to 1000 rep. I'm about to graduate out of the 1000-2999 rep league, and I want our meta stat there to stay green. :-) area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/5169/history – T.E.D. Jul 2 '12 at 17:25
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Initially Germany was treated extremely harshly under the Morgenthau Plan. However with concerns over the Soviet Union rising and the importance of the German economy to the rest of Europe, eventually that plan was shelved and reform measures were initiated.

Somewhat analogously, concerns about Soviet power also made the US push for rapid economic development of Japan.

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The Post War II treatment of Germany was relatively mild, and aimed at "rehabilitating" the country. (Germany was a recipient of Marshall Plan aid, and the Allies organized the (West) Berlin airlift to supply the city with food when the Soviets cut off land-base supplies).

It was after the FIRST World War that Germany was treated like a pariah, through the Versailles Treaty. This, unfortunately, led to the rise of Hitler and World War II. The Allies appear to have learned a lesson the second time around.

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There are a number of very obvious and not obvious effects on Germany, both practical and social.

  • in the invasion of Germany from 1944 to 1945, many German cities were bombed extensively. Most of the econmy in the post war years was geared towards physical rebuilding.

  • many Germans died in the war, leaving a generation gap just like WWI.

  • immediately after the war, millions (~7.7m) of German soldiers were kept in POW camps. The death rate in those camps was very high (from 19% to 39%).

  • part of Poland's 'restitution' was to 'move' westward, losing territory next to the Ukraine and getting Silesia and eastern most part of then Germany up to the Oder-Neisse rivers. Also, the Soviets got Prussia. Part of this deal was the movement of millions of Germans from these areas into the rest of Germany. Also, the Germans in Bohemia were repatriated to Germany. The number given is roughly 15 million

  • Germany was split into two parts, the west occupied and controlled by Britain France and the US, the east by the Soviets. The two sides developed very differently.

  • The western part after 1950 experienced the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) helped a long by the Marshal Plan. Socially, there was and continues to be a lot of open guilt about the Nazi past. They continue to support Israel financially and programs to repatriate Jews there.

  • The eastern part, though economically more prosperous than the rest of the communist nations was nowhere near as prosperous as the western European nations. It eventually became a paranoid police state.

  • in both parts, individuals with connections to the Nazi party were considered pariahs. As countries and business partners, the past was overlooked in the interest of economic development in both parts. But there is a natural tendency of individuals from countries victimized by Nazi Germany to have difficulty thinking well of Germany as a whole.

  • Because of awareness of this history, Germany, both the government and the citizens, is very pacifist and contrite.

  • The United Nations, formed immediately after WWII of most world countries, accepted both West and East Germany in 1973.

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    The entry about German POWs should mention the very large difference between Allied POWs and POWss held by the Russians. The death rate in UK POW camps was very low. For example, of the approx 155,000 German POWs from Stalingrad only around 5,000 made it back home (See Anthony Beever book on this subject). Italian POWs from North Africa fared much better. – ExpatEgghead Feb 2 '12 at 6:57
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    +1 Very good and thorough answer. But with "... with connections to the Nazi party were considered pariahs" you are looking on the subject too idealistically. In the eastern part former GESTAPO members were taken into STASI and NKVD as specialists. Mass of them worked as guards in the camps in Siberia. In the western part as all judges, for example, were nazi, they couldn't destroy all the court system. So, these judges worked nicely further, except a few of the most notorious ones. The same in other important spheres. The real denazification came in 70-ies, with the Willi Brandt. And time. – Gangnus Feb 2 '12 at 8:40
  • @Gangnus Is there a reference for gestapo guards later working for Stasi (sounds far-fetched to me) and NKVD (sounds well-nigh impossible)? – Felix Goldberg Oct 3 '16 at 21:32
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After WW2 Germany was out of young population, which pushed it to welcome many immigrants from other countries, and especially Turkey. Initially it was meant to keep this working class for a limited amount of time. However, things did not go as planned because of 2 main reasons:

  1. Post-war Germany had a high and increasing demand in working power. It would be more expensive to constantly invite new people, educate them, teach them the language and after a few years send them back.
  2. The immigrants mostly had a rural origins and they denied to return back to their home. Besides they were creating families and settling down.

Right now about 4 million people in Germany have Turkish origins.

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treatment was not consistent with the allies pretence of a moral high ground. a book by Giles MacDonogh "AFTER THE REICH" provides more than sufficient proof of harsh treatment of all Germans including women and children after WW2. Only when US leadership relized (1947/48) that the west will need strong Germany to set up a natural counterbalance against Soviet Russia's European ambitions was there a about turn to help (Marshall plan) and respectable treatment of all things German. Yet another example of general hypocricy of the west.

Mr. Mitch your assertion that 15mil Germans were removed from Bohemia is wildly incorrect, Bohemia did not contain even 10 mil population before WW2! Also Czechs went into a wild revenge mode and tortured and or killed aprox. 300000 Germans out of perhaps 3+ millions living in Bohemia pre-WW2

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    +1 for the reference/book. Not a very balanced answer, but a useful complementary view IMHO. – Drux Jan 31 '13 at 7:27
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Germany had an enormous war industry during the war. After the war this was turned into a civilian industry, as mentioned, largely to rebuild the country in the first years, but also eventually turning Germany into being a strong industry nation. Japan was also in a similar position.

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I'm less interested in the standard answers to any question of effects of the War on Germany but more in the mass-psychological transformation of the population of the country. First, World War I shame and humiliation, then punishment and dismemberment of Germany when the Victors took territories, entire industries, and crippled the country from rebuilding.

Then, post-WW II, the punishment of the division of Germany into East and West, essentially creating two ideological systems with conflicting identities, with NO acknowledgement of German civilian suffering during the fire bombings and post-war massacres of ethnic Germans fleeing Central and Eastern Europe -- as if these never happened. And, of course, no claims on loss of farms, properties, wealth, even while everyone else is making claims on Germany for the same. Endlessly.

Then Reunification, when another radical transformation took place, a feeble, unsucessful attempt at recreating a unified psyche while consciousness of being "German" was tainted with the shame of the Holocaust, always emphasised in every documentary about the Hitler period, with blame squarely laid on the German people themselves, contrary to all claims there would be no "collective punishment" -- a lie if ever there was one.

So, now we end up with a collective psyche that is split (Left and Right-wing; socialism and neo-fascism), struggling with each other, while mass-immigration is diluting cultural values that could unite, but wont because many in the EU and elsewhere do not want a strong, united Germany. Add to this the low birth-rate which, effectively, will make Germans a minority in their own country within a half century. What do you end up with? No Germany at all.

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    This could do with being more focused and more objective. Seems to be too much of a personal rant as currently written. – Steve Bird Oct 6 '17 at 5:09
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    This sounds like copied from a German far-right-party propaganda pamphlet. We are on "History" here, not "Politics". – nvoigt Jul 8 '18 at 7:55

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