Germany and its “ultimate problem”

What do you think of when you mention Germany? Football, beer, car, philosophy, classical music, world war…

So what about the Germans? Punctual, rigorous, serious, boring…

These words are inadvertently come to the fore, we never thought about how they are rooted in the mind, and too lazy to find evidence to support these ideas.

Germany is probably the most troubled country in the world. This prejudice not only comes from China, which is full of enthusiasm for industrial countries, but also spreads among European neighbors in Germany. In Europe, romantic French, high-profile Italians, and elegant British people are hot choices. When the Germans are mentioned, people’s mouths are down. In China, on the contrary, German rigor and industrial super high achievement are fascinating, and German manufacturing is synonymous with quality as a myth.

The Germans are painfully and happily accustomed to these labels, but we may wish to temporarily tear them off, from the perspective of the Germans, and talk about their two “ultimate questions” – “what is Germany” and “who is the German.”

Split or unification
The poison tongue writer Mark Twain tried to learn German, but in the end desperately wrote a small article about the German language, saying that German was a group of people suffering from toothache and forced to sit at the table and invented.

All the friends who have studied German understand the feeling of “toothache”. According to ten people, each noun has the “gender” of one of the yin, yang, and middle. Each word has four unpredictable positions according to its position.

But compared to the Chinese, Arabic, and Greek, which are equally difficult to learn in the world, German is really just a “grinding little goblin”, a very young language. The standard German language currently popular in Germany was born in the 16th century AD, only 500 years old. There was no “German” at the time, and now the German region has a cool name – the Holy Roman Empire.

The common language is the cradle of national and national unity, and the young German reflects the difficult road of unification in Germany. The concept of a modern nation-state was born in Europe, but Germany has been particularly slow on the road to forming a nation-state.

It was not until the early 19th century that when the British had established a empire that spanned the globe, France expanded in Africa, and Spain and Portugal ate South America, “Germany” was still in a fog. The Holy Roman Empire is still composed of about 300 states and uses more than 1,000 currencies. Today, less than two hours’ drive in Germany, it may cover more than 10 states, and it is necessary to apply for 10 customs clearance procedures and exchange 10 currencies.

Martin Luther’s German language is indeed a cultural support for reunification. Two other names have to be mentioned. They have promoted the rebirth of the Holy Roman Empire to Germany from economic and political. The economist Liszt traveled to various states and lobbied to establish the German Customs Union. As an economist, he realized that redundant tariffs are a huge obstacle to regional economic development. Only by eliminating such tariff barriers can it be possible to transition from economic unity to political unity. In 1834, with his all efforts, Prussia, the strongest state at that time, accepted this proposal, and it has drawn 38 states and took the lead in establishing the “German Customs Union.”

The blueprint for culture and economy has been painted, but the real birth of “Germany” is inseparable from the means of “iron and blood.” Bismarck, the prime minister of Prussia, a politician who used diplomacy in his artistic sense, united the sacred Roman Empire, which was torn apart. In 1871, the German Empire was established.

Although the unification was completed, the German Empire inherits the sacred Roman Empire and is composed of 25 states with autonomy. This “federal” tradition runs through the blood of Germany. Whether it is the Weimar Republic or today’s Federal Republic of Germany, Germany has always adopted a “federal system” to form a country. The “federal” traits not only enable Germans in different regions to have relatively independent identities, but also enable them to fully respect and understand differences in their interaction and decision-making.

Generally speaking, the story of national unity will be finished once, but Germany has “became twice” in the matter of “unification.” After the end of World War II, most countries in the world are breaking colonial oppression and moving toward independence and unity. They can wait for Germany, but they are once again divided. As a defeated country, Germany has become a victim of the Cold War in a sense, and it has been torn apart by the occupying Power into East Germany and West Germany.

The Soviet-occupied East Germany accounted for about one-third of Germany’s area and established the German Democratic Republic. The West German occupation of the United States, Britain and France accounted for about two-thirds and the Federal Republic of Germany was established. Germany, which has a long way to go, has just left the wolf claws of totalitarian rule, and has fallen into two tiger holes with ideological tears. Under the two social forms of capitalism and socialism, the Germans who originally lived on the same land could never “nothing to ask about the West.”

It has been 28 years since the reunification of Germany and Germany in 1990. Today’s Germans still cannot erase the shadow of the word “things”. In the centre of Berlin, there is a small East German museum on the banks of the River Spree. There is an almost singular way to let the current Germans relish or understand the life of East Germany. There was a short video of the time in the pavilion: on the West side, blondes dressed in bikinis and sunbathing; on the East German side, the tightly wrapped people held telescopes and peered at the opposite scene.

From the perspective of economic development, even in 2016, the per capita GNP of the eastern federal states is only about 73% of the western region, and the unemployment rate is 3% to 4% higher than that of the west. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spent her early life in East Germany, will be referred to as a “spy” by political opponents because she is familiar with Russian and youth when she participated in the Communist Youth League.

“The current situation is the same as in 1990, and the people in the East and West Germany are still completely different.” Klin Holz, director of the Berlin Institute of Population and Development, said after completing the East-West census.

Splitting and unification are a sensitive but everyday topic for the Germans. The federal tradition familiarizes them with and respects regional differences, but the tariff barriers that once divided the country and the high walls that are entangled with barbed wire make them instinctively hostile to all divisions. This license is to explain why today’s Germany promotes “diversity” in the EU and strives to enhance integration in the economic field.

Germany in Europe or Europe in Germany
To ridicule the Germans on time, saying 5:27 will never arrive at 5:30. The logic behind this is actually Germany’s extremely accurate and efficient public transportation system. Whether it is a bus or a train, the arrival time will be accurate to the minute. It is normal for the Germans to commute by train. If you click on the platform, you will not miss the car.

The popularity of the railway in Germany is staggering. According to 2014 data, Germany ranks first in Europe and sixth in the world with a railway mileage of 43,468 kilometers. However, if the length of the railway is calculated by the country’s area, Germany will surpass the United States, China, and Russia, with an average of 1 kilometer of railway per 8 square kilometers of land.

The German railway mileage was only 549 kilometers in 1845, and it jumped to more than 30,000 kilometers in 1880. After the reunification in 1871, Germany showed the “German speed” of European fear and achieved leapfrog growth in the industrial sector. By 1910, Germany’s industrial total had surpassed all European countries.

“Where should Germany go?” This not only plagues the Germans but also the European neighbors. The increasingly powerful Germany, as well as the dwarf traditional powers France and Italy, together constitute the “German problem” that hangs over Europe.

This “German issue” has become an evergreen tree in European international relations. Since the debate on whether Germany should be reunified in the 18th century, once Germany takes the lead, countries worry that Germany will sweep across Europe, and they will rush to suppress Germany; but if they encounter debt crisis and refugee crisis, countries hope that Germany will assume the responsibility of “superior students”. Pick up the half of the sky.

When I was young, I felt strange when I was studying history. There were two world wars in the world, and there were German figures in the source country. How uneasy is this country, and more “evil” can be used to stir the world into a charcoal. Looking back, it is not the bitter fruit of European countries being plagued by the “German problem.”

As mentioned earlier, Germany, as a rising star, developed rapidly after 1871 and jumped to the first in Europe in 1910. Not only at the economic level, Germany’s total population is also the first in Europe. But under the prestigious name, Germany is huddled in Europe. Looking at the country where the economic level is not as good as its own, it has played the banner of “Don’t fall” and is rampant on the world map. The Germans seem to have missed the hot money retail of the bull market, and they can’t go through this hurdle.

The arrogant Wilhelm II was succeeded to the throne. When he stepped on the stage, he dismissed Bismarck, who had always been prudent and “hidden to keep a low profile,” eager to venture into the “land under the sun.” It is true that Germany has demonstrated strong industrial strength in the war, but the results are well known. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Turkish Empire, as defeated countries, fell apart; although Germany is not like its two allies, it has also suffered humiliation. I was fighting for a broader overseas colony, but I would have expected a handful of seas after the defeat.

The outer colonies were hunted by the winners of the country. Not only the colony, Germany even lost 1/8 of the land plate and about 1/10 of the population, the industrial lifeline of the Saar coal mine was handed over to France, and it needed to pay hundreds of billions of marks (in 1921, the amount of compensation confirmed was 4.99 billion pounds) Gold to the Allies. The military restrictions are even more radical. Germany is banned from possessing naval and air forces. The army is limited to less than 100,000 people and is not allowed to import or export weapons.

Germany finally completed the full compensation for the First World War in 2010, but the compliance with other terms is not in place. The infantry Hitler, who had been on the battlefield of the First World War, joined the “German Workers’ Party” of extreme nationalism and nationalism. He used the various crises added to Germany by the Treaty of Versailles to intensify the mood of the people and embarked on the road of expanding the army and preparing for war. Germany once again became the “bad boy” of “bad rules” and stood on the opposite side of Europe and even the whole world.

The two attempts to use “German Europe” to answer the “German issue” have all declared a fiasco. Germany finally realized that it could not be mistaken three times on the same issue. After the Second World War, Germany actively joined and promoted the European integration project, and was willing to put itself in the “European Germany” answer.

But this problem is not answered by willingness alone. Today’s Germany ranks first in the number of countries and the gross national product of the 28 member states of the European Union (the United Kingdom has not yet withdrawn from the EU), and holds about 1/10 of the seats in the European Parliament. It can be said that Germany has a substantive veto in the EU’s complex and democratic decision-making process. Any legislation that cannot be promoted or supported by Germany cannot be passed.

Since 2009, the growing sovereign debt crisis and refugee crisis have pushed Germany into the role of “leader”. In 2015, Merkel repeatedly screened the cover of The Economist magazine, was named the “free world leader”, and even occupied the absolute C position in the 2016 annual cover. Germany has already thought of “German in Europe”, but Europe under the crisis has doubts about this answer.

It is even harder to be a big country in the dark forests where big countries are built. This is the situation in Germany. From fragmentation to unity, and once again experienced the struggle of division. Two challenges to the “European Order” set off an uproar and finally learned to be a “good student” in Europe. Therefore, Germany may be more entangled and more versatile than we think, longing for unity and respecting differences, and an uneasy heart is domesticated by order.

Germany has contributed wonderful football, pure beer, comfortable cars, philosophical, romantic and romantic classical music. We should not only interpret it in a strict, pragmatic, serious and boring stereotype. The Germans, like everyone you meet, have the troubles and unclear “problems” that grow up like this.

If it is you, in the face of Germany’s “ultimate problem”, what kind of person would you become? This is also the answer to “what is Germany” or “what is the German?”, because of the tension between history and the future, it has become a complex and difficult to understand individual.

The next time I talk to people about Germany, or talk to a German, instead of discussing the old labels, it’s better to talk to them about the delay and strike late, complaining that accepting refugees threatens the safety of the community, planning Christmas to travel to Southern Europe. …or a little simpler, just open a bottle of beer.