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1949-2009: The Federal Republic of Germany Turns 60 - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The year 2009 is a big one for Germany. This weekend marks 60 years since the postwar founding of German democracy. SPIEGEL ONLINE has collected a series of photos documenting Germany's rise out of the ashes of war, and some of the hurdles along the way.

Germany has no shortage of events to celebrate in 2009. This fall, it will be exactly two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the landmark event which led to the reunification of Germany.

 And on Saturday, the country will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the democratic Federal Republic of Germany. Indeed, the latter is just as astounding as the collapse of communist East Germany. After Germany was thoroughly devastated in World War II, an economic phoenix rose from the ashes.

The new constitution was signed on May 23, 1949 in Bonn, which would be West Germany's capital until it ceded to post-reunification Berlin in 1999. At the time, the country was in worse shape than it had ever been. World War II and the Holocaust had transformed Germany into a pariah among nations. What had once been the home of poets and thinkers, admired across the world, was now denounced as the refuge of inveterate warmongers, murderers and barbarians. Wherever they traveled, Germans were looked upon as criminals. Their country was divided among the war's victors, and it barely escaped being completely broken up and transformed into an agrarian state with no industry.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:54:10 PM EST
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