HIS3L Germany- From Defeat to Unity 1945-89 Coursenotes

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The Federal Republic of Germany, 1949-1963. Political developments. The new Basic Law which established the framework of government for thee FRG guaranteed freedom of expression, assembly, association and movement. It also committed the FRG to work for the full unity of Germany and to recognise all people of German descent as citizens of the Federal Republic. The Federal President was the head of state of the Federal Republic and cannot be dismissed until a new chancellor is voted in. He/she appoints the Federal Chancellor who forms the cabined and is head of government, the President also appoints a Federal government which consists of the Chancellor and Ministers, each minister is responsible for managing their own ministry. Adenauer's 'Chancellor democracy' Although elected Chancellor by a majority of one, he proved to be a successful Chancellor for the new Federal Republic. He was skilful in his dealings with other countries and adept in holding together a political coalition of many varying interests. However he was also an adept politician who could 'read' his audience and force doubters into line. Adenauer's CDU/CSU party enjoyed a period of unbroken rule between 1949 and 1966. The CDU/CSU came to power with a only 31 percent of the vote in 1949, he gained 50.2 percent of the vote in September 1957 and therefore an absolute majority. The first elections had seen political extremists competing for influence and the trend towards political fragmentation caused concern especially with 12 parties represented in the Bundestag. Adenauer's own coalition had been forced to rely on a number of smaller parties and a good deal of political pressurizing in 1949, it showed itself as capable of integrating a wide range of political views and had soon built up an effective national party organisation, Adenauer ensured his party was able to offer something to both urban and rural communities, to the workers as well as the upper and middle classes. Since over half of the West German population was Catholic, Adenauer was able to make the most of the CDU's Catholic Party Heritage. However he was careful to ensure that the CDU was perceived as an ecumenial Christian party than exclusively Catholic to ensure the maximum amount of appeal. He worked to get those who were more politically motivated, namely former Nazi voters and war veterans, the large group of nearly 9 million ethnic Germans excluded from eastern Europe and the refugees from East Germany who had fled to the West. One of the main tasks facing the administration was the reconstruction of towns and cities destroyed by war, and the provision of housing for the refugees, expelled and those victims of bombing still living in temporary accommodation. In April 1950 the construction law began a generous system of grants to the Lander and cities for large scale building projects and the government assisted housing and apartment building scheme soon provided over 4 million new homes by 1957. Those people who spent long periods in 'holding camps' without work were also gradually…


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