1955 Allies end occupation of West Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) becomes a sovereign state when the United States, France, and Great Britain end their military occupation, which had begun in 1945. With this action, West Germany was given the right to rearm and become a full-fledged member of the western alliance against the Soviet Union.

In 1945, the United States, Great Britain, and France had assumed the occupation of the western portion of Germany (as well as the western half of Berlin, situated in eastern Germany). The Soviet Union occupied eastern Germany, as well as the eastern half of Berlin. As Cold War animosities began to harden between the western powers and Russia, it became increasingly obvious that Germany would not be reunified. By the late-1940s, the United States acted to formalize the split and establish western Germany as an independent republic, and in May 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was formally announced. In 1954, West Germany joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the mutual defense alliance between the United States and several European nations. All that remained was for the Americans, British, and French to end their nearly 10-year occupation. This was accomplished on May 5, 1955, when those nations issued a proclamation declaring an end to the military occupation of West Germany. Under the terms of an agreement reached earlier, West Germany would now be allowed to establish a military force of up to a half-million men and resume the manufacture of arms, though it was forbidden from producing any chemical or atomic weapons.

The end of the Allied occupation of West Germany meant a full recognition of the republic as a member of the western alliance against the Soviet Union. While the Russians were less than thrilled by the prospect of a rearmed West Germany, they were nonetheless pleased that German reunification had officially become a dead issue. Shortly after the May 5 proclamation was issued, the Soviet Union formally recognized the Federal Republic of Germany. The two Germany’s remained separated until 1990, when they were formally reunited and once again became a single democratic country.

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German military set to be rebuilt around national security: report

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen plans a fundamental reorganization of the Bundeswehr, a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper says. A policy paper calls for national security to be prioritized.

Ursula von der Leyen is planning to completely remake the Bundeswehr to strengthen its focus on national as well as international defense, daily newspaper the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday.

The paper cited a draft copy of a policy paper titled “Concepts for the Bundeswehr,” which recommends a fundamental reorganization of the German military to ensure it “makes its contribution to national security provision.”

For more than a decade, the Bundeswehr has focused mainly on overseas deployments, including peacekeeping duties in several conflict zones. But in future, national and international alliance defense should be put on an equal footing, the report said.

New security situation

The plans will entail the spending of billions of euros, according to the paper, which will be used to rebuild military structures, some of which have been completely lost.

The paper highlighted several security developments in Europe over the past five years, including the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s annexation of Crimea had also showed that more than 70 years of European peace could be endangered, it said.

Germany’s grand coalition has been arguing over plans to increase the federal defense budget. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have called for defense spending to rise to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2021, well above the 1.27 percent proposed for this year.

€49 billion to spend

That would allow spending of around €49 billion ($59 billion), which several reports have suggested is urgently needed to upgrade equipment and transportation, as well as enhance training for military personnel.

But the proposal would still leave Germany far short of a NATO target of 2 percent of GDP, which has been demanded by US President Donald Trump.

The center-left Social Democrats have so far rejected the spending plans, which must be decided by July 4, when the German Cabinet is due to consider longer-term expenditure.

As a legacy of World War II, Germany has restrictive guidelines for its military activity, leading some to question whether spending 2 percent of GDP would make sense, given the limitations on what kind of missions the Bundeswehr can participate in.

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