Wednesday 30 May 2012

The Day It All Began To Go Wrong

The web still amazes, information that might never have accessed or would have taken months to discover and beg or borrow a copy can just pop up or there is someone that knows.

The date is Thursday 5th May 1955 when in Europe the Federal Republic of Germany, the West, formed in 1949 under Allied tutelage became a sovereign state, member of NATO and was admitted, more or less, to the family of nations, although with strictly limited military capacity.

In July 1945 units from the 7th Armoured Division, shoulder flash the Desert Rat had paraded in Berlin as the representatives of the British Army before the Allied leaders, Churchill personally commended them.  In May 1955 because of Berlin’s different status surrounded by the Soviet controlled Eastern Zone there was no parading.

In fact the ending of the British Army of Occupation and the others was all quite low key and officially little was made of it.  The 7th Armoured Division General Staff had other ideas and paraded at their own headquarters in Verden with detachments from the various units if the Division.

This was not quite as low key as it seems, not only was The Royal Dragoons, now part of the Blues and Royals Household Cavalry there but also the Fourth Hussars, whose Colonel in Chief was Sir Winston Churchill who had been Prime Minister until 7th April 1955.

Just after 1945 there had been some debate about what was to be done about Germany.  One extreme idea from some in the USA was that it should be “pastoralised”, meaning that it more or less should be all farmland.

Another was that it should revert to the pre 1871 collection of separate small states and forbidden to reunite.  Each of these states would have a foreign supervisor to control it.

These ideas were scuppered by the Cold War, the Iron Curtain and the hostility between the West and the Soviet Union and its client states.  Something of a united Germany was necessary as a bulwark although dependent on NATO forces. 

But from 5th May 1955 day Western Germany was free to purse its own economic policies and was not involved to any great extent in all the world affairs that demanded that the UK and others commit huge efforts and military involvement, all at a cost.

After all, it was politics and power around the world that matters, not economics.  So by nearly twenty years later the UK was scrambling to be admitted to the newly developed European Common Market on almost any terms because of the disastrous state of its economy and its consequential inability to govern.

As the Common Market developed with France and Germany at the centre, despite all our claims and posturing to be at “the heart of Europe” the growth and capability of the newly founded German economy, largely free of the international burdens and any of the fall out from Empire endured by France and the UK.

This led to the foundation of the European Monetary System (EMS) in 1979 and as far as money matters were concerned the Germans were very much at the centre and if not in control could not be controlled.

The politicians wanted to drive on to a Federal Europe.  After the reuniting of East and West Germany stresses developed, notably because Italy in particular and others had not been minding their monetary affairs wisely, the EMS blew fuses in 1992.  One effect was to cause long term damage to the credibility of the UK Conservative party.

The upshot of this was the political decision to create a single money system.  So the Euro came into being on 1st January 1999 with German and the European Central Bank very much at the helm.  Whilst the Goldilocks economy, pumped up by vast credit expansion, lasted, all was well. 

Germany only needed to have a light hand on the tiller and the EU could go on with the charade of ever increasing spending and commitments and mutual back scratching because the money always flowed according to the whims of the governments.

Now there is another breakdown and all is uncertain.  But if any state in Europe is to have the final say and assume control of the economies of the Euro Zone then it will be Germany.  Possibly the first Target For Tonight will be the financial sector notably the problems perceived by the failures of control and laxity of the City of London.

Meanwhile the remnants of the British Army will soon be repatriated from Germany.  Amongst them will be the 7th Armoured Brigade who retained the right to use of the Desert Rat after the disbandment of the Division in the late 1950’s. 

Will they parade when they leave or will they just skulk off to the ferries?  Will they then be disbanded because there is nowhere for them to go in the UK?

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