The Growth Of the FRG

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Created by Foruvaak over 4 years ago


The economic and political development of West Germany in the 1950s.

Resource summary

The Growth Of the FRG
1 The CDU in office
1.1 In 1949, they were elected with 31% of the vote. By 1957, they had 50.2% of the vote - an overall majority
1.1.1 Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was respected by the people for not having an 'inferiority complex' towards the West. He promised a strong economy and good Western relations - but not reunification
1.1.2 There were 12 parties in the Bundestag after the first election. People were worried about political fragmentation, as happened to the Weimar Republic... So there was a rule that a party had to have at least 5% of the vote to have a seat in the Bundestag Anti-democratic parties such as the Socialist Reich party were banned
1.1.3 About 50% of Germans were Catholics, so the Christian CDU appealed to them. However, the party was kept ecumenical (not specifically one Christian denomination) to have a wider appeal This meant they appealed to refugees and former Nazi party voters.
1.2 Policies
1.2.1 Grants given to the Lander to rebuild after the bombing - 4 million new houses by 1957
1.2.2 Aid for refugees - Alliance of Expellees and Disenfranchised Persons
1.2.3 110.4 billion DM given to victims of Nazi atrocities and bombing campaigns
1.2.4 1957 pensions act - 75% pensions increase
1.2.5 Creation of the Bundeswehr - a standing army of 'civilians in uniform' Reviewed by Parliamentary Chief Commissioner to ensure that it couldn't become politically influential
1.2.6 Bonn Conventions signed 1957 made FRG a sovereign state
1.3 Why was Adenauer so successful?
1.3.1 Was in power during a successful period - seemed to be a safe choice Campaigned with the phrase, 'Keine experimente!' (No experiments)
1.3.2 People didn't mind that he'd been in power for so long - 60% said they would rather have a stable income than all democratic freedoms.
1.3.3 Weakness of opposition Left-wing parties were looked down of because of the Cold War - KPD had only 2.2% of the vote in 1953 SPD claimed that Adenauer would be a failure - when he wasn't, they had nothing to argue! Put reunification at the top of their agenda - unrealistic Hard to appeal to the working classes as the country became more affluent and middle class SPD had internal divisions over rearmament SPD leader Schumacher's successor, Ollenhauer, was 'colourless.'
1.3.4 Attitude towards former Nazis Allowed some eg Hans Globke into office to make use of their political talents 1951 reinstatement act gave former Nazi civil servants their jobs back In the 1950s, possibly as many as 80% of officials had a Nazi past But admitted Germany's guilt; gave 100 billion DM compensation to Israel
2 The Economic Miracle
2.1 Causes
2.1.1 The Social Market Economy Little state intervention to allow markets to operate freely Only as much regulation as necessary - some in food, transport, raw materials, housing State job-creation eg tax incentives to persuade private construction companies to make houses Created housing and employment Collective Bargaining In Industrial Relations Act - a policy of Co-Determination where workers were involved in decision-making By 1951 all coal and steel stock companies had worker representation at a managerial level
2.1.2 Currency Reform 1948 - led to more confidence in the economy's stability and investment
2.1.3 Korean War stimulated industry - mechanical engineering output doubled 1950-52 Until 1956, FRG had no army so didn't have to spend money on the military
2.1.4 Industrial infrastructure mostly unharmed by bombing Many natural resources
2.1.5 Skilled workers emigrated from GDR 'Guest workers' from Southern Europe formed 10% of workforce - cheap to employ with low welfare costs
2.2 Results
2.2.1 Full employment through 1950s
2.2.2 Low strike rate Trade unions made modest wage demands One union per industry rule created a feeling of 'social partnership'
2.2.3 Five-day week implemented
2.2.4 More spending on social welfare - living standards increased
2.2.5 Equalisation of Burdens Law levied taxes on the rich - funded settlement of 10 million refugees and pensions increases
2.2.6 Anti-Trust law of 1957 abolished monopolies
2.2.7 8% growth rate through 1950s Between 1950s-70s, average income of a household increased 400% More people could afford luxuries like cars, TVs, fridges
3 Problems
3.1 'Two thirds' society - higher gap between rich and poor
3.2 'Chancellor Democracy' - Adenauer's long term could be seen as undemocratic, almost like a dictatorship
3.3 Loopholes in the law allowed big businesses to flourish at the expense of smaller ones
3.4 Agriculture was subsidised
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