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date: 25 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

When World War II ended in Europe, many assumed that the sheer level of destruction, hatred, and fear unleashed by the conflict would produce a Europe even worse than the one they recalled from the 1930s. Only in Germany was the moment captured linguistically, in the concept of Stunde Null, hour zero, for the German population almost certainly expected the worst from the catastrophic defeat of Adolf Hitler's Reich. The Cold War and racial realities of Europe between 1945 and 1949 contributed to the idea that the two German states created in 1949, the Federal Republic in the West and the Democratic Republic in the East, were new experiments in democratic politics quite distinct from the legacy of a united Germany since 1871. Much of the historical literature on European economic recovery has focused on West German revival. The gulf between the years of recession, poor trade, state restrictions, and planning for war in the 1930s, and the booming consumer and construction sectors in the 1950s, made it evident that something changed dramatically in 1945.

Keywords: World War II, hour zero, Germany, 1945, Europe, Cold War, politics, economic recovery

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