countryaah, the criticism grew at the beginning of the year
against President Christian Wulff after it was discovered
that he had borrowed money privately from a business
acquaintance when he was prime minister in Lower Saxony,
denied that it happened, and then threatened a newspaper
about the published information about it. When the state
prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation, Wulff
resigned. In March, the Federal Assembly - the members of
the Federation Day and as many representatives of the states
- elected Joachim Gauck as new president. Gauck, a former
priest and civil rights fighter without a party name, won
with a satisfactory majority over the Nazi hunter Beate
Klarsfeld, who was the candidate of the Left. Gauck became
Germany's third president in just under two years; Wulff's
representative Horst Köhler also resigned prematurely.
Three state elections were held in the spring. The
Christian Democratic CDU remained the largest in Saarland,
but had to form a "big coalition" with the Social Democratic
SPD since the previous coalition partners backed. In North
Rhine-Westphalia, the SPD strengthened its already dominant
position and formed a new government with the Greens. In
Schleswig-Holstein, the bourgeois coalition fell, and an
SPD-led government was formed with the Greens and the
Danish-Frisian party SSW. In all three elections, the Pirate
Party entered the state parliament. The party was previously
only represented in Berlin.
A regional court in Cologne found that circumcision of
boys for religious reasons violates the child's rights and
causes bodily harm. The rally did not directly imply a ban,
but drew sharp criticism among Muslim and Jewish
representatives who called it religious discrimination.
The crisis in the euro zone took a big place on the
political agenda. When it came to the crunch, Chancellor
Angela Merkel and her CDU received support from most of the
opposition. In June, more than two thirds of the federation
approved the EU financial pact and the permanent new crisis
fund, ESM (European Stability Mechanism). Germany would
become the main financier of the fund. A strong opinion
opposed the ESM, and the Left and other critics requested
that the Constitutional Court review the decision. The
statement came in September: ESM was not found to be in
violation of the Constitution. However, the Constitutional
Court made certain reservations. Germany got contribute up
to a maximum of EUR 190 billion, in addition a new decision
was required on the Bundestag.
There were harsh criticisms from many parts of Europe
against Germany's emphasis on austerity, which many feared
slowed growth and contributed to the euro zone falling into
a new recession during the year. Many slogans were shouted
against Merkel in demonstration trains in the crisis-hit
countries of southern Europe. Germany itself seemed to be
heading towards negative growth at the end of the year.
In September, the SPD appointed Peer Steinbrück as its
chancellor candidate ahead of the 2013 election day.
Steinbrück, who had no challenger within the party, was
finance minister in the large coalition with the CDU, which
the SPD entered into until 2009 but did not want to sit in a
new government. with Merkel as Chancellor.
A fire in a workshop where the disabled worked in
November claimed the lives of 14 people in Titisee-Neustadt
in southwestern Germany.
Crisis and Nazis
The German economy grew until the crash of the Wall
Street stock exchange in 1929. The country was now plunged
into crisis due to the lack of external credits. In 1930,
Hindenburg dissolved the parliament and in the subsequent
elections both communists and national socialists (Nazis)
went strong. The Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler became the
second most significant political force after the Social
Democracy. The Nazis' pledges to create a Great Germany, to
cope with the post-World War I humiliation, and the
implementation of a campaign responsible for the economic
crisis on Communists and Jews, were steadily gaining support
in the middle classes and the impoverished masses. The
Communists and Social Democrats had been enemies since 1918.
Therefore, they did not join Hitler when they actually had a
majority, and realized only too late what danger he posed.
At the same time, with violent clashes with the
Communists, the Nazi party doubled its vote in the 1932
election, gaining 37%. The president who had banned the Nazi
public meetings now offered Hitler participation in a
government led by the conservative Franz von Papen. Yet
Hitler's claim to become government leader was rejected.
In 1932-33, international negotiations were conducted in
which Germany sought to be released for war damage
compensation and regain the right to re-armament. The
domestic crisis deepened and the number of unemployed
reached 6 million. In January, at the invitation of the
Citizenship, the President handed over the government power
to Hitler, who in February dissolved parliament and printed
elections in which the NSDAP gained absolute majority. In
March 1933, the Parliament in Potsdam assigned Hitler the
right to enact laws over the period of four years with the
Constitution and without the prior approval of Parliament or
the President. He was entitled to sovereignly draft the
Finance Act, take out government loans, enter into
agreements with other countries, transform the government
and senior army leadership, and declare state of emergency.
In July 1933, Hitler disbanded the federal system in Germany
and introduced absolute central power, dissolved all
political parties except his own, and banned unions and
strikes. At international level, Hitler withdrew from the
Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations.
The regime set up the first concentration camps where
thousands of opposition, gypsies and gays were deployed. At
the same time, a program for the physical annihilation of
people with disabilities was initiated. Only protests from
the church whose support was still important to the regime
were temporarily put an end to this program. With the
"Nuremberg Laws" of 1935, the regime legally reaffirmed its
racist ideology, thus laying the foundations for its later
extermination policy towards ethnic and religious
From Hindenburg's death in August 1934, ministers were
forced to give personal allegiance to the Chancellor. In
1935, Hitler began the German rearmament in open violation
of the Treaty of Versailles. The European countries
protested, but did not pose serious obstacles. In October
1936, Germany and Italy signed a cooperation agreement which
implied support for General Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
In November, Germany and Japan signed an agreement on
military cooperation. The following year, the three Axis
powers, Germany, Italy and Japan, entered into the
Anti-Communist Covenant in Rome.
Berlin - industry and infrastructure
Many different industries are represented in Berlin, which is Germany's
largest industrial city. The electronics industry plays a special role, but also
the iron and metal industry, the machinery industry, the clothing and food
industry as well as the chemical and graphic industry are richly represented.
In addition to AEG and Siemens, which have built an entire district,
Siemensstadt, for the company and its employees in the Spandau district, there
is the pharmaceutical company Schering, which as the only large company retained
its headquarters in Berlin during the years Germany was divided.
Large industrial areas dominate both east and west, and special centers of
gravity for industry are located by the Spree and by the major canals and
railways. Berlin is an important trade fair city (see Messe Berlin); In
connection with the old exhibition grounds (Messegelände) around Funkturm in the
district Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, an extensive international congress center
(ICC Berlin) was built in the 1980's, which was to help secure Berlin's
position as an international trade fair city.
In Berlin, there is a well-functioning public transport network with buses,
trams, metro lines, S-Bahn and U-Bahn. The S-Bahn (Stadt-Bahn) was started in
1871 to connect the railways that entered the city. The subway was opened in
1902 and is still under construction.
When the city was divided, the collective system was also divided. Now the
lines across the former sector border have been re-established and a single
company, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), has been created, which handles all
public transport with the exception of the S-Bahn, which is operated by Deutsche
Before 2006, Berlin had never had a central railway station, but instead nine
main railway stations. In the summer of 2006, Europe's largest transit station,
the Berliner Hauptbahnhof Lehrter Bahnhof, was inaugurated.
Ship traffic is also of great importance. In addition to its rivers, Berlin
has a dozen major canals and both an eastern and a western port with canal
connections to the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.
Air traffic has played an important role since World War II, especially for
West Berlin. The city has three airports: Tegel and Gatow (military airport
since 1994) in former West Berlin and Schönefeld just outside the city limits of
former East Berlin.
Until 1991, air services to West Berlin were only operated by the United
States (Pan Am), France (Air France) and the United Kingdom (British
Airways) as cabotage flights, while Schönefeld was used by the GDR state
airline, Interflug, which similarly had no rights to fly over or over Federal
In addition to a number of international routes and charter traffic from
Schönefeld, Interflug also maintained domestic routes to Barth (Stralsund),
Dresden, Erfurt, Leipzig and Karl-Marx-Stadt.
In 2006, an extension of Schönefeld as a major airport for Berlin-Brandenburg
was launched. This is expected to be taken into use in June 2012.
In this regard, the Tempelhof was closed in 2008, while Tegel is expected to
close in 2012.