Imagine what it would be like if you were not allowed to visit family or friends who lived nearby. How would you feel if it were not possible to call them on the telephone? This is what it was like in Germany before 1989. At that time Germany was divided into two countries. It had been divided soon after World War II ended. Today Germany is one country again. In this chapter you will learn why Germany was divided.
You will learn how a united Germany is now an industrial leader.
Why Were There Two Germanys?
In 1933 Adolf Hitler became dictator of Germany. Hitler made all laws for the country. There was little freedom in Hitler's Germany. Hitler made Germanys army larger and stronger. In 1939 Germany attacked its neighbor, Poland. This was the start of World War II. Millions of soldiers from many nations fought in World War II. During the war large areas of Europe
were destroyed. Finally in 1945, Germany was defeated. The war ended.
The United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union had defeated Germany in 1945. After the war those four nations controlled different parts of Germany. The Soviet Union controlled the eastern part. It became East Germany. It had a Communist government. There was little freedom in East Germany. The rest of Germany became the country called West Germany. The people in both countries spoke German. But the two Germanys had their own laws, national anthems, flags, and money. Look at the map on this page of the two Germanys.
The United States helped rebuild West Germany after the war. It became a strong industrial country. It also became a democracy. People in West Germany had a much higher standard of living than the people of East Germany. They also enjoyed more freedom.
Berlin had been the capital of Germany before 1945. Berlin was in East Germany. After the war, Berlin was divided into two cities. East Berlin was a Communist city. It was East Germany's capital. West Berlin was a
free city inside East Germany. The people of West Berlin enjoyed freedom and a high standard of living. Millions of East Germans wanted more freedom and a higher standard of living. So they ran away to West Berlin. From West Berlin they could go to West Germany. The Communist leaders decided to stop people from leaving East Berlin. In 1961, they built the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall separated East and West Berlin. It was 99 miles long. The Berlin Wall made it very hard for East Germans to escape to West Berlin. For many years the Communists kept the East Germans and the West Germans apart. Families could not visit each other. Friends could not make telephone calls to each other. But Germans dreamed about a time when their country would be united again.
How Did Germany Become a United Country?
In 1989 the East Germans tore down the Berlin Wall. People in the two Berlins could visit each other again. Berlin became one city again. On October 3, 1990, East Germany and West Germany became one united nation. People throughout Germany danced with joy. October 3 is now celebrated as a holiday each year. This holiday is called the Day of German Unity. In December 1990, all Germans voted in national elections. Helmut Kohl became the chancellor, or leader, of Germany. He had been West Germany's chancellor for many years.
<<Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
Most Germans are happy about unification, or uniting into one country. But unification has been difficult. West Germany's money became the currency, or money, for all of Germany. So East German money had to be changed. Products in the united Germany cost more than products had cost in East Germany. The people of East Germany have found it hard to buy these more expensive products. Many East Germans lost their jobs and could not find work in the united country.
The people of West Germany have had to pay higher taxes in order to pay for unification. These taxes have paid for new roads, railroads, and factories in East Germany.
Even though unification has not been easy, Germans are very proud of their united country. They are happy that Berlin is a united city. In the year 2000, Berlin will be the nation's capital again.
Germany's Landforms, Resources, and Economy
The North Sea and the Baltic Sea are north of Germany. Germany has ports on these seas. The seas are important for trading and fishing. The seas also give most parts of the country a mild climate.
The North European Plain covers northern Germany. The central part of the country has hills and low mountains. The south has many mountains. The tall Alps cover part of southern Germany.
Germany has many rivers. The Rhine River and its many canals are the country's busiest waterways.
Large ships on the Rhine carry oil, coal, iron, steel, and other products to different parts of Germany. Germany is not rich in natural resources. But it has many forests. It has some coal and a lot of iron. Germany uses its coal to make about one third of its electricity. It imports large amounts of oil. It also imports many kinds of raw materials for its factories.
Today Germany is the industrial leader of Europe. There are factories in many parts of the country. German factories make steel, cars, and planes. They make machines, computers, tools, and many other products. Germans sell products to many countries.
Only a small part of Germany's population works at farming. The climate is too cool for farmers to grow enough food. Germany imports one third of its food.
<<Germany. This classroom is in a high school in what was once East Berlin.
Germany's People, Cities, and Future
Germany has more than 83 million people. It has more people than any other country in Western Europe. The Germans are hard workers who feel proud when they do good work. But they also try to enjoy life. They enjoy good food. They also like to sing and dance with friends. Education is important to Germans. All children spend at least nine years in school.
Most Germans live in cities. Most cities have excellent subways and other transportation. Germans are very proud of Berlin. It has the largest department store in all of Europe. Berlin also has a special museum about the Berlin Wall. Hamburg is a large northern port. Munich, in the south, has many theaters and museums.
Dachau is a city near Munich. Many Jews were killed there during World War II. During the war the Germans tried to kill all the Jews of Europe. The killing of Jews and other groups of people during the war is called the Holocaust. By the end of the war, six million Jews had been killed. Dachau has a museum that teaches about the Holocaust.
Germany is a rich country but it must solve some big problems. Many immigrants have moved to Germany. There are not enough jobs for them.
Unemployment is a problem in Germany today. The country does not have enough houses for all of its people. Pollution is another big problem. Factories have caused air pollution. River water has also become very dirty from all the factories. Germans are working to solve these problems. They want Germany to continue to be a great industrial country.
1. Germany was divided into two countries after World War II. In 1990 unification made Germany one country again.
2. Germany is an industrial leader. But it must import food and raw materials.
3. Pollution and unemployment are problems in Germany today.
A highway in Germany
Katarina Witt (Born 1965) Katarina Witt grew up in East Germany. She started ice-skating when she was five years old. The East Germans believed young Katarina could be an Olympic winner. So Communist leaders paid the country's best coach to train her. In 1984 Witt skated in the Olympic Games. She won a gold medal for East Germany. Four years later she won a second gold medal at the Olympics. The Communists rewarded her with cars and apartments.
Witt made many Germans angry when she spoke out against unification. Yet her life changed after unification. Witt could now decide for herself when or where she would skate. She was able to earn much more money. In 1992 Witt skated in the Olympics again. She skated for a united Germany, but she did not win a medal. Witt continues to skate in ice shows in Germany, the United States, and in other countries.
Write a paragraph in your journal about Katarina Witt. Tell how Katarina's life changed after the unification of Germany.
USING WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED
Find the Meaning Write the word or words that best complete each sentence on the blank lines.