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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Tyler

Germany in the aftermath of war: Denazification and Division

The end of the Second World War did not bring the longed for peace. The Allies (US, USSR, Britain, and France) soon were faced as to how to deal with the German Nazis. Those felt to be guilty of the most heinous crimes were brought to justice at Nuremberg, a newly established international court. But Nazism ran much deeper in German society than the relatively few tried in the court. This situation was worsened as The USSR drew apart from the four Western Allies in the areas of Germany allocated to it in the immediate aftermath of the war. This widening gap was most evident in the German capital of Berlin. For this city, despite being wholly within the Russian zone of Occupation, was itself divided into four zones; in effect two (West Berlin and East Berlin).

The longed for peace in Europe never fully materialised because the continent slipped into a new war - The Cold War. Described by Winston Churchill, in a memorable lecture at Fulton, Missouri in 1946, as an Iron Curtain falling between Western and Eastern Europe. By 1961 this had taken real form with East Germany - The GDR, German Democratic Republic - building a wall right through the middle of Berlin sealing themselves off, quite literally, from West Berlin (part of the German Federal Republic).

Bismarck's dream of a unified Germany lay in the rubble of The Second World War, and for many of my generation it seemed as though this division would last, if not forever, then certainly for a very long time indeed. But, as we now know, this was not to be the case.

However, with President Putin's views about restoring Russia (a Tsarist and Soviet Russia), who would dare to say that we have reached the end of this story of European realignment begun so long ago by Bismarck. The analogy is not that of a jigsaw with all the pieces neatly fitting into a co-ordinated pattern but rather of a kaleidoscope which any number of countries can give a shake to and alter the existing patterns.

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