Here Today, Bonn Tomorrow The Bonn Republic ruled Germany for half a century. After unification, many sought to bring the capital of the Federal Republic back to its previous home of Berlin. Before the vote to decide was cast, numerous debates erupted throughout Germany.

The pro-Bonn members argued that Berlin has a disreputable history from being the capital of the Nazi Empire, a history that the Federal Republic had avoided for most of its existence.

“Some have expressed apprehension and fear about this shift. And for good reasons. After all, the last time Berlin was the capital of a united Germany, it was the capital of the most evil and murderous political regime in European history. Following National Socialism, the eastern part of the city became the capital of an ugly, repressive and intrusive regime, which, though incomparably less murderous and genocidal than National Socialism, still embodied and represented that other great evil of 20th century political rule: Stalinism.”
Pro-Berliners argued that a return to Berlin would be an outspoken statement for declaring Germany’s unity. In addition, the Berlin legislature would be inside the former east, where former East Germans might feel much closer to the government if they had stayed in the western Bonn. In a close vote, the Reichstag decided to pack its bags and move back to Berlin. Historians declared that the decision ushered a new era for Germany, known as the Berlin Republic. However, will the new Republic be any different from the Bonn Republic? If it is any different, will the new Republic be a welcome change?

There are three sides in the debate about the difference between the Berlin and Bonn Republics. On one side, some believe that no change will occur at all, and that the Berlin government will simply be the Bonn government in a new location. Others believe that the move from Bonn to Berlin is going to be a boon for the Federal Republic. The third group argues that the move from Berlin to Bonn will be a detriment to Germany.

The easiest explanation of what the Berlin Republic will be like is a continuation of the Bonn Republic. Proponents of this idea could easily argue, “Why would the government change just because of an address adjustment?” A Berlin seated government would have no greater power in the law, nor would it be elected in a different fashion than any member of the Bonn government was elected. In addition, it is argued that the German market is likely to remain prosperous, which will help ensure democracy and protect Germany from a nationalist authoritarian movement.

The imagery of the atrocities committed in Germany’s past haunt those who would rather have left the capital in Bonn.

“After reunification in 1990 many politicians argued that the capital should remain in Bonn as a constant municipal reminder of the qualities of self-effacing modesty that served Germany so well in its recovery from World War II. Certainly, a Germany led from Berlin will be far different than one led from Bonn.”
Others argue that militant democracy could run rampant in the Berlin Republic. Noting Germany’s history of squelching anything politically “right” of the CDU, this is not as far-fetched as it might sound. Quite often since the foundations of the Federal Republic, Germans have lost the right to express certain ideas, which would be a violation of the citizens “rights” in American democracy. There is also some doubt concerning the future economic success of the Berlin Republic. In disagreement with the first group, some argue that economic difficulties arriving after the boom of the late 90s computer market will be exasperated by lingering effects of unification.
“One point of consensus that does emerge from these contributions, however, is that unification is not the primary source of Germany’s economic difficulties, although it has exacerbated the problems and certainly made them more visible. The incorporation of eastern Germany provided added strain to an economy that was already experiencing difficulties, although in 1990 they had not yet become terribly salient.”
(Brady, Crawford, Williarty, 509)
Finally, many argue that the new Republic in Berlin will affect positive reforms on the government. Instead of surrounding itself in its terrible past, many argue that Germany would, in effect, be coming to terms with his terrible past instead of running from it. Others predict that the new Berlin government will be much less of a pocketbook diplomat; instead Germany will get involved in the issues and form itself to be a leader. Since Germany is the driving force behind the European Union at this point, I would argue that it could benefit greatly from making itself appear to be more of a leader. Nobody desires to follow the meek and timid. Additionally, a Berlin government has a much greater ability to appease eastern voters. The need for this can be seen with the emergence of the PDS, once believed to be an almost entirely illegitimate leadership party for the East Germans.
“As part of this antiparty trend in German politics, the PDS, emerging from the 1994 elections as the third-largest party in the five new Lander, has become the party of choice for those East Germans unhappy with the unification policies of the Bonn government.”
(Brady, Crawford, Williarty, 506)
Upon reading as many arguments as I could find, I concluded that the Berlin Republic will be a positive change for Germany. It is clear to me that the new government seated in Berlin will be more likely to wield its power to seek its national interests.
“With reunification, Germany became the largest country of Western Europe in size and population and was reconfirmed as the world's third-largest economy, behind the U.S. and Japan. Germany's GDP now stands at $2 trillion, and the country is the greatest trading nation of all, with exports valued at $500 billion, compared to $400 billion in 1991. With that much bulk, it is inescapably an economic superpower.”
My personal belief is that every single country in the world should be allowed to seek its national interests as far as its economic and political achievements and power will allow it to. Americans who argue that Japan or Germany should have reduced power on the national political scale due to their involvement in World War II are clearly acting out of concern for the great rivalry that these two countries possess to America economically, not out of concerns that either would ever return to authoritarianism regimes. Additionally, I agree that a return to Berlin will foster less reliance on the existing political scheme. The CDU and SPD will play increasingly smaller roles as third, fourth, and even fifth opinions are voiced from the minority. The old politics of coalition will no longer be nearly as important, as the Greens and PDS creep their way into the spotlight. Although the Nazi party was allowed to rise with such movements, I believe that Germany’s Federal Constitution provides enough safeguards to prevent extremists from attaining a large amount of power. In my opinion, the inclusion of more parties only guarantees a greater amount of democracy. I cannot possibly imagine the Berlin Republic behaving as the Bonn Republic did. Reunification’s effects in politics have yet to be felt, as East German membership in the two largest parties is meager. This tells me that Germany as a whole has yet to voice its unified opinion. During the Berlin Republic, Germany, not East Germany or West Germany, will govern from Berlin and assert its economic strength, as it ought.

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