Defeat and unconditional surrender: these were the foundations on which post-war Germany was built. The overall impact, however, was not apathy, but a mentality which was down to earth, pragmatic, and forward-looking. Democracy, economic liberalism, and European integration were the signposts to the future. Even though the old ruling elite with their power base in the agrarian East had been swept away by the end of the war, the social and industrial fabric of Germany society did not crumble altogether. Crucial structures survived and contributed to West Germany's phenomenal recovery, while the East was forced to submit to a ruthless Soviet leadership. Now, however, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the aftermath of German reunification will be long and painful, for never have two economies and societies been fused together which had grown as far apart as West and East Germany.
Lothar Kettenacker's book offers a fascinating survey of the fortunes and features of East and West Germany - how the two states drifted apart; the differences between their economies, politics, and cultures; and the problems and events surrounding their unification.