Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why was Germany allowed to exist after WW2?

  1. Aug 20, 2011 #1

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    So my father and I were talking a few weeks ago and he brought up a question that he didn't understand. My father seems to know ridiculous amounts of stuff about history, but this seemed to stump him. Germany caused the 2 deadliest wars in history that lead to the destruction of an entire continent twice, yet when all the dust had settled, Germany was allowed to stay a nation. Sure they were banned from having a standing army, but why were they allowed to even exist after world war 2?

    Even today, if for example North Korea invaded South Korea, and the North were to be destroyed (as one at this point would expect), I don't think anyone would feel the North would be allowed to exist as a sovereign nation once the dust settled. So what was the deal with Germany? I would think they would have just parceled out the land to neighboring countries.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 20, 2011 #2

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    It was to some extent. The Germany of 1871 was considerably larger than is the Germany of today. Huge chunks of pre-war Germany were ceded to Poland and the Soviet Union. There was quite a bit of spoils of war business after WW II. 12 million Germans were forcibly expelled from those ceded lands. About half a million died during the process.

    Even the parts of Germany that supposedly remained Germany was not a country. Germany was split into parts administered by the Soviet Union, the US, Britain, and France. Remember East Germany? That was just a puppet of the Soviet Union.
     
  4. Aug 20, 2011 #3

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Sure, but I don't understand why they basically didn't strike the nation of Germany from the history books at that point. It was an occupied country, for sure, but why were they really allowed to exist? After WWI, they had all the sanctions and such and they still came back to wreak havoc on Europe. If I were the leaders in '45, I would be thinking "you know what, them being a sovereign nation doesn't seem safe".

    The question may be a bit silly, I know. I'm just wondering why they did what they did back in the day.
     
  5. Aug 20, 2011 #4

    cmb

    User Avatar

    What's even more wierd is that people still claim that England and America won the war!!

    The first war in history where the winners ended up with less than the 'losers'. Wierd, huh!?

    The UK did not seem to recognise it was getting itself tangled up in a war between Germany and Russia. (Well, the Russian plants in the UK Government did, of course!) What we did was help the Russians win. Actually, Germany kinda did that to itself by declaring war on America, for no apparent reason, or, rather, one mad guy did that to Germany as it must've been Hitler's decision to do that.
     
  6. Aug 20, 2011 #5
    Perhaps because we like to think we are not so barbaric as they were in ancient times,

    Both the Ancient Greeks and the Romans employed

    "the final solution" many times. For instance after the trojan and punic wars.

    How many did Atilla or Ghengis slaughter?

    Why was the catholic church allowed to continue after the inquisition?

    Unfortunately history contains more barbarism than sweetness and light.
     
  7. Aug 20, 2011 #6

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    What alternative would one propose?

    After WWII, there was much greater fear of an ascending USSR (Soviet Union). Germany was occupied, and basically partitioned.

    Germany did not cause the Great War or WWI, although they did enter the war on the side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which went to war against Serbia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I

    It's worthwhile to read Margaret MacMillan's Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World and David Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

    One has to look at the prevailing attitudes at the time toward war, and reflect on the contemporary history and past 2000 years.
     
  8. Aug 20, 2011 #7
    "Germany did not cause the Great War or WWI, although they did enter the war on the side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which went to war against Serbia."

    Yes but, if Germany hadn't set off to invade France via Belgium, both France and Great Britain would have remained out of the war and it would have been confined to a few small countries in central Europe, Germany might not have started the war but they ramped it up one hell of a lot.
     
  9. Aug 20, 2011 #8
    The system of alliances led to a cascade of war declarations: Austria-Hungary on Serbia, Russia (allied to Serbia) on Austria-Hungary, Germany (allied to Austria-Hungary) on Russia, France (allied to Russia) on Germany. The UK waited until German troops entered Belgium to declare war. The UK had a long standing policy of keeping any of the major powers out of Belgium. Germany considered control of Belgium to be necessary to quickly defeat France in time to move troops east to counter the Russians (who the Germans calculated would take 6 to 8 weeks to fully mobilize).
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  10. Aug 20, 2011 #9

    I like Serena

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    There are plenty of threads about why WW2 broke out.
    But: "Why was Germany allowed to exist after WW2?"
     
  11. Aug 20, 2011 #10
    Easy.

    Germany's technical and scientific expertise were needed to rebuild a devastated Europe after the war.

    Germany sits in the heart of Europe, and many of the industrial raw materials she can't supply herself can be imported from her European neighbors.

    Germany was allowed to exist after WW2 because the victors couldn't consolidate their gains without her.
     
  12. Aug 20, 2011 #11
    US President Harry S Truman wanted to "deindustrialize" Germany after WWII and assure it would never be able to wage war again. However, the Cold War realities caused him to change his mind, and by 1949 he welcomed the creation of the BRD (The Federal Republic of Germany or "West Germany")

    http://www.paperlessarchives.com/wwii_conferences.html

    see Octagon Meeting Sept 1944.
     
  13. Aug 20, 2011 #12
    That's basically what I said.

    Thanks for supplying the documentation.

    I'll never get over the wanton destruction of human life that war brings to the world, and especially the blatant genocide practiced by Nazi Germany.

    Still, as a member of an honest, God-fearing German-American family, I find what I'm able to discern from this thread with regard to its original intent (with due regard for the fact that my judgement in this respect may well be in error) disturbing in the extreme.

    I just hope I'm wrong.
     
  14. Aug 20, 2011 #13
    You're perfectly justified in your loathing of the Nazi regime. But the deindustrialization idea was never thought through IMO. Even after the losses and destruction Germany experienced in WWII, it was far too heavily populated to be made into an agrarian country. For example, Berlin, a city of over 4 million prewar, was in ruins in the summer of 1945. Berlin sits on a sandy plain covered with pine trees (not unlike the pine barrens of New Jersey). You can't settle millions of people on that land and expect them to support themselves as farmers. The Ruhr region had more than twice the population of Berlin. The best agricultural areas of Germany had effectively been transferred to Poland by Stalin who kept the eastern part of that country, acquired under the agreement with Hitler in 1939, for the USSR.

    The only way Germany could have been made into a viable agricultural country would have been through a drastic reduction in its population, presumably by some kind of relocation program. Except for the rocket scientists, I wonder how many countries would have offered a home for millions of Germans.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  15. Aug 21, 2011 #14
    Maybe there was no other option.

    If Germany was not allowed to continue as a nation, then its land would have to be partitioned and absorbed by other nations. But the German population was a big part of the total European population. So wouldn't that cause big minority problems in the states that absorbed the German lands? These people or their children would still be able to vote after some years and pass their politics. They would still have their language. If they retained their feelings for a nationality, they would still try to be independent and create their nation anew.

    This would create a highly unstable situation in Europe for all its countries. I don't think anyone would benefit from that. A partitioned, satellite state for the powers of the time seems a better idea.
     
  16. Aug 21, 2011 #15
    And you do what with the millions of native Germans?

    If the world decided one day to delete the United States by name. So the land was now either classed as Canada or Mexico. It's easy to redraw a map. One would guess that a few hundred million people would be a bit upset about it, and make at least some effort to thwart the idea.

    Also it's not a wise idea to sweepingly equate Nazi's with Germans as a single entity.

    The fact that reperations were a long term cause of the second world war. Kicking a broken country caused them to turn to Hitler and the Nazis.

    Europe learnt from it's mistake and worked with Germany to rebuild, rather than against it. Not only that it served as as political and geographical buffer to the USSR.
     
  17. Aug 21, 2011 #16

    cmb

    User Avatar

    The term 'victors' has a certain hollow irony to it.

    I'm sure it was some consolation to the British to feel that they were WW2 'victors' as they queued with their ration books in 1954, 9 years after their 'victory'.

    And for sure they must've been glad to have been the 'victors' in 2006 as they finally paid off the war debt to the US, who, presumably, somehow kindly regarded us as being beneficiaries of the war. 60 years. Phew, such an early repayment, eh!?

    When did Germany finish paying off its war debts!?

    And Russia got nothing out of the whole deal either, did it!?! :uhh: I mean, it was paying off war debts for... urr... ok, collecting war debts from its acquired territories, perhaps, after help from the UK who were still paying for it?

    Victors?!? Pah!

    There is no more a victor of a war as there is a victor of an earthquake! Yet despite these enormous lessons learned in the 20thC, it seems to be a lesson instantly dropped with a new generation of know-nothing politicians who seem to think they know better.
     
  18. Aug 21, 2011 #17
    I get it, no-one is really interested in my thoughts, but such is the flawed history on this thread, I cannot but…

    Anyway. The First World War. A modern analysis usually recognises that neither side is really to blame, as such. Or maybe that all sides were equally to blame. In any case, a traditional balance of power that had seen Europe dominated by the colonial rivalry between Britain and France was changing. Actually two nations were threatening their dominance, first Germany and then the USA. But whether it was the geographical proximity and removal of those two nations, or whether it was something inherent in the ‘world view’ of those two nations, although the USA quickly over took Germany as the leading industrial nation, it was always Germany that was perceived as the military threat. Britain had been used, for some hundreds of years, to unchallenged supremacy on the seas. The rate at which Germany was building warships in the early twentieth century made it clear that that dominance was coming under serious question and it made Britain very uncomfortable. There are deep historical reasons why France made an alliance with Russia, and it was something of a departure for the relations between Britain and France that Britain joined that alliance. Against them were the axis powers of Germany, Austro-Hungary – itself an empire in an advanced state of decay – and Italy. As SW Vandecarr mentioned, it was something of a cascade of declarations and counter declarations of war that followed the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand that someone likened to a chain gang. As the lead guy moved his leg forward, with melancholy obligation, everyone else was forced to follow suit. It has often been said that no-one expected the war to last above a few months. It is just as certain that no-one imagined what the consequences of industrialised warfare would be – death on an industrial scale.

    The greatest contrast between the two World Wars, (or at least the European parts of them) is that whereas the causes of the First World War are many and complex, the causes of the Second World War can reasonably be traced to one very specific document: The Treaty of Versailles. Had the allies not shown the same kind of disregard for the German people demonstrated by those advocating on this thread that Germany should have been disbanded at the end of the Second World War, perhaps the First World War really would have been the war to end all wars. There is a strong case to be made that it was the Treaty of Versailles that created the conditions for the rise of Nazism in 1920s and 30s Germany.

    And since the point has been raised on this thread, it is worth mentioning this basic point that if one nation deserves more credit than any other for the defeat of Germany in the Second World War, then that one nation is Russia. That is in no way to diminish the contribution made by the USA, or Britain and the various former colonies that supported her. But there are some raw numbers that demonstrate the point. In the European theatre, Britain and the USA’s total war dead number in the hundreds of thousands; Germany’s war dead number around five million; Russia’s war dead number in excess of 20 million. Primarily, the Russians defeated the Germans by sheer weight of numbers.

    But the simple reason that Germany could not simply be disbanded at the end of the Second World War is that the Allies could not do to the ordinary German people what the Nazis tried to do to the Jews. And you should be clear about one thing. The vast majority of the ordinary German people were as blameless as any Briton or American. Steps were taken to ensure that they were done as a serious military force. But their people retained their right to their existence and to their identity. The birth of the European Common Market and its development into the modern European Community demonstrates that European politicians learned the lesson at the second time of asking, even if some contributors to this thread still haven’t.
     
  19. Aug 21, 2011 #18
    Flawed history indeed!

    Italy was on the side of Britain in WWI

    http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/italy_and_world_war_one.htm
     
  20. Aug 21, 2011 #19
    Before WWI Italy was part of the Triple Alliance of the Central Powers. However, it did not enter the war in 1914. In 1915 it entered the war on the side of the Entente, opening a new front in northern Italy.
     
  21. Aug 21, 2011 #20
    Indeed. And it was the geographical arrangement of those three nations that made them an axis - hence the name. Geography was always an extremely important aspect of this. The Schlieffen Plan was borne of the inherent difficulties of Germany's position between its enemies.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Why was Germany allowed to exist after WW2?
Loading...