Infographic titled east and west Germany in 1968.
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Early on, the United States rushed aid to West Germany in order to strengthen it against the communist tide sweeping Eastern Europe. From 1949 to 1963, a strong-minded chancellor, Konrad Adenauer (AD eh now er), led West Germans as they rebuilt cities, factories, and trade.

Despite high taxes to pay for the recovery, West Germany created a booming industrial economy. This “economic miracle” raised European fears of a German revival. But West German leaders worked closely with France and the United States in NATO and other international organizations.

While West Germany remained a capitalist country, some later chancellors belonged to the Socialist party. They expanded the welfare state. Under this political system, a government keeps most features of a capitalist economy but takes much responsibility for the social and economic needs of its people. In the welfare state, a government provides national health care, unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, and support for qualified students to attend college.

Germany Reunites

The postwar decades brought no economic miracle to East Germany. Under communist rule, its economy stagnated. The Soviet Union exploited East German workers and industry for its own benefit. Still, unemployment was low, and East German workers had some basic benefits such as health care and free education.

By 1989, communism was declining in the Soviet Union. Without Soviet power to back them, East Germany's communist leaders were forced out of office. The Berlin Wall was torn down, and in 1990, Germany was reunited.

While Germans welcomed unity, the change brought new challenges. Prosperous West Germans had to pay higher taxes to finance the rebuilding of the east. At the same time, East Germans faced a difficult transition to a market economy.

Britain Recovers

World War II left Britain physically battered and economically drained. After the war, Britain could no longer afford its overseas colonies, which demanded independence. Britain gave up global leadership to its close ally, the United States.

The war also impacted the British political system. After the war, British voters elected a Labour Party government, which began building a welfare state. The government nationalized industries and expanded social welfare benefits. It built housing for the poor and opened new state-funded universities. A national health service extended free or low-cost medical care to all citizens. To pay for these benefits, taxes rose tremendously.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments