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INDP 372: Bavarian Highlights

Travel Seminar, Spring 2007: Syllabus | Agenda | Homework | Lectures | Maps | Personal Budget

Sessions on Economics, Geography, History, Politics and Society

General questions and themes for lectures by Dr. Lewis

Instructors: Professors Frau Karen Hyman, Jeremy Lewis, Jackie Trimble.  Travel Director: Ms. Jane Williams .
by Jeremy Lewis, revised 2 May 2007, with brief talking points for the questions.
Geography | Society | Economics | Political Institutions | Political History
Images: Statesmen | Modern politics | Holy Roman Empire Maps |

Note that, owing to the large number of students in the class, midterm test and final exam questions will comprise multiple choice questions closely based on the lecture notes.
I have appended talking points in the form of bulleted answers, to the thematic questions
Lecture and Discussion Questions on German Geography
  • How is Bavaria different from other regions of Germany?
  • more Catholic, more conservative and traditional, mountainous, "Folkish" society, different dialect
  • sort of "Deep South" of Germany
  • How does German geography influence German society?
  • north German plain invasion routes
  • German cookoo in the nest of Europe principle
  • rivers for heavy trade
  • temperate climate and natural resources (except imported oil) for development
  • mountainous south more isolated except for Danube river trade
  • How is Germany hemmed in by neighboring countries -- and how does she access the sea?
  • expansion of Germany implies invasion of neighbors
  • maritime access is vulnerable via narrow Skaggerak and North Sea
  • navy is historically choked by British navy from entering Atlantic
  • How has Germany's quest for lebensraum (living space) historically brought her into conflict?
  • in 1940, invasions to S, NW, East and NE led to declarations of war by UK and France
  • subsequent invasion E to Russia and SE to Ukraine led to eastern front
  • Holy Roman Empire, though, had covered much of west and central Europe for 1,000 years
  • Lecture and Discussion Questions on German Society
  • How does the current German consensus affect the welfare state?
  • Germany's welfare state is strong, and supported by conservateives as well as social democrats
  • How does the role of women differ from that in the US?
  • although their workforce participation is not as high, they are more likely to live in single parent families
  • they are perhaps better supported as mothers, but less so as workers
  • abortion rights were strong in the east under communism, but less so in west because of partial catholic and conservative influence
  • How different are the environmental, youth and anti-immigrant movements in Germany?
  • all of these are much stronger in Germany
  • the enviros or Greens are a party represented in the Bundestag and in policy
  • 70% of all goods sold in Germany are repackaged for environmentally aware consumers
  • 70% of each car is recycled, with the costs paid up front
  • How do German political parties, elections and social movements differ from those in the US?
  • The social democrats are much stronger, along with trade unions
  • in elections you have two votes (for candidate and for party)
  • the president is elected, but to a merely ceremonial postion
  • the Chancellor is a prime minister, with authority from the largest group of members of the Bundestag
  • the youth movement and anarchist protesters are much stronger
  • Lutheran and catholic churches are both established and tax-supported, although Germans have much lower religiosity than Americans
  • the environmental movements are much stronger
  • demonstrations and protests were more common in the US in the 1950s-early 1960s
  • Germany saw more demonstrations and protests in the 1970s- 1990s
  • How different is the German educational system?
  • there are three tracks, the academic track being a rigorous pre-university system
  • the vocational training track produces strong engineers
  • the less academic track gives more general practical education
  • Germany has much longer school years than the US, and used to be highly respected as a well educated nation
  • Germans are far more conversive than Americans with foreign languages
  • recently the international test, PISA, has alarmed Germans by showing their science and math scores lower than many other countries.  Very likely they need to boost these subjects in the lower-level schools.
  • Why does German age structure resemble a Christmas tree?
  • there are two shortages of people in the age ranges affected by lack of births during the two world wars
  • there is a war bulge like the US baby boom
  • unlike the US, there are few children per mother in the generation following the arrival of the birth control pill in 1962.
  • German population is slowly declining, unlike the US which has booming immigration
  • Links:
  • German History in Documents and Images
  • organized collection of woodcuts and cartoons of social, political and cultural history
  • Germany in Wikipedia
  • Germany in CIA World Factbook
  • Lecture and Discussion Questions on German Economics
  • What has been the role of Germany in the European Union?
  • Germany has the largest economy in Europe
  • GErmany has provided the driving force for the common monetary system and later, the Euro
  • Germany is heavily concerned to avoid inflation of prices, because of its hyperinflation in 1927
  • How has the German economy developed since 1945?
  • the German economic miracle led Germany from ruins to affluence in only one generation
  • middle sized industrial companies have been the strongest sector, especially in engineering and technology
  • How is the German workplace (unions, hours, holidays, corporate governance) different from that in the US?
  • unions are much stronger and have secured limits on working hours and conditions
  • the work week is 32 hours, with five weeks of vacation
  • holidays are much longer and more family friendly than in the US
  • workers have democracy in the workplace, with workers' directors on the boards of companies
  • How rich are Germans -- and how many live in poverty?
  • they are very affluent with few poor
  • it is an egalitarian, consensual society
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the German economy?
  • low inflation, stability, security of employment, wealth
  • but high unemployment and slow growth in the recent 15 years
  • Which countries are Germany's major trading partners for imports and exports?
  • almost entirely trading with other developed countries, the US and Europe
  • How did US and British aid save East Berlin in 1948-49?
  • PBS, The Berlin Airlift
  • Lecture and Discussion Questions on German Political Institutions
  • What kind of constitution does Germany have?
  • a federal constitution with a layer of national government above the Laender (states)
  • somewhat like the US except for a weak presidency and powerful Chancellorship
  • Why did postwar Germany have a Basic Law rather than a constitution?
  • the Basic Law symbolized a temporary constitution until Germany could be reunited.
  • How has Chancellor Merkel's recent government coalition been created -- and performed?
  • the grand coalition of the two large parties (CDU and SPD) is unusual
  • intially it was greeted well, though its reform efforts seemingly petered out after a year
  • How do German parties differ from those in the US?
  • the Greens, communists, socialist and rightwing nationalist parties are beyond the wings of the US spectrum of parties
  • the CDU is somewhat like US Republicans and the SPD is somewhat similar to the Democrats, though with more belief in equality, community and the welfare state
  • parties are more ideological in the Europe than in the US
  • How do German elections compare with those in the US?
  •  you have two votes: for candidate and party
  • a party needs to achieve a "fraktion" to get into the Bundestag (the Greens already have achieved this)
  • Does Germany have judicial review of the American type?
  • courts have begun to review constitutionality of actions of the legislature and executive, though they are perhaps 200 years behind the US supreme court in developing power
  • Lecture and Discussion Questions on German Political History
  • How did religious conflict affect Germany during the reformation?
  • the Thirty Years' war tore apart the countries and (together with diseases such as the plague) devastated the population and economy by 1648
  • How did Germany become a nation in the nineteenth century?
  • Prussia, by force and skifull statecraft under Bismarck, allied with or defeated several states to its south
  • How did the Kaiser's regime lead Germany into the Great War?
  • during a system of rigid alliances and defense treaties
  • the assassination by a Serb of Austria's Grand Duke committed the Austrians to war against the Serbs
  • Russia was committed to defending the Serbs
  • Germany was committed to defending Austria
  • the French were committed to an understanding with the Russians
  • the British and Americans dithered, then joined the French
  • the Kaiser, like many many young men, was a strong believer in militarism and nationalism
  • the Kaiser was himself viewed as a badly brought up child, extremely rude, spoiled and aggressive
  • the Kaiser was forced into exile in favor of a social democracy based on the city of Weimar
  • How did the Versailles treaty affect Germany?
  • Germany was stripped of population, land and riches in the form of war reparations
  • Germany resented this as unjust, since she was not alone responsible for the war and had not surrendered
  • How and why did the Nazi party take power?
  • the Great depression left many angry, unemployed young men
  • Nazis destabilized the social democracy with street violence
  • they organized a mass party on the streets to rival the SPD
  • many middle class voters switched to the Nazis in hope of nationalism, socialism, racism, dissatisfaction, or simply vigorous new leadership
  • What have been the major turning points in German political history since 1945?
  • the first generation produced affluence, aided by the Marshall Plan
  • the Berlin Airlift showed the US would protect West Germany from the soviets
  • the 1957 Treaty of Rome ushered in the European Economic Community, bonding France and Germany together for peace
  • coalitions of the Free Democrats with one of the large parties rotated in power with a grand coalition of two large parties
  • in 1990 Germany reunited
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