The division of Germany into two states in 1949 led to the existence of two distinct German educational systems for nearly half a century, which reflected two different political ideologies. In East Germany (GDR), the Soviet model was transformed into a polytechnically oriented 10-year unit school. In West Germany (BRD), a system was established in which the students with school start at the age of six after four consecutive years, Grundschule, were faced with the choice to either continue six years in the Hauptschule, or change to a 6-year school, Realschule, or go to the 9 -year-old and most advanced school, Gymnasium.
While the system in the East was strongly centralized, the BRD’s constitution made its states (Bundesländer) sovereign in school matters, and mainly in higher education, with their own education ministries. At the same time, efforts were made to establish collaboration and some uniformity through a so-called framework plan and a standing Education Ministerial Conference.
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The criticism that students must choose a school type as early as the age of 10 led to reform activities early in BRD. In the early 1970s, it became free for the states to establish one for every common compulsory school, Gesamtschule, as a rule from grades 5 to 10 (some with a further three high school years). In addition, grades 5 and 6 throughout the country were converted into Orientierungsstufe (Erprobungsstufe), which with preparation gives students two years to choose a school.
With the association of 1990 of the two German states, an adaptation of the eastern system to the west began. In this process, the new states of Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony – Anhalt took the opportunity to establish a school form with a joint Hauptschule and Realschule (“Regelschule”, “Mittelschule”, “Sekundarschule”).
Today, about one fifth of all school pupils go to Hauptschule, and after that most of them start an apprenticeship at companies with usually one day Berufsschule per week (the compulsory school in Germany ranges from 6 to 18 years). Approximately the same number goes to Realschule, whose degree gives access to a broader vocational education through eg. Fachoberschule and thereafter to services in individual and public sector at the intermediate level. While the percentage of Gesamtschule students is about 10% (1997), the Gymnasium students (about 45%) are increasing. The upper secondary school, which now usually has a course system for the last three years (and also available in special forms, eg Wirtschaftsgymnasium(economic high school) and Technisches Gymnasium), concludes with the graduation degree Abitur, which gives general eligibility for admission to universities and colleges.
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The German university in modern form has its role model at the University of Berlin, founded by Wilhelm von Humboldt in 1810 (see Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin). At Humboldt-embossed universities, purpose-free research and teaching would be integrated.
In the newly founded BRD, the number of traditional universities increased slowly due to developments in its industrial society, while new vocational colleges were established to a greater extent, for example. Technische Hochschulen, Pädagogische Hochschulen and in the 1970s and 80s, especially the Fachhochschulen. These offer a more internship-oriented education and conclude with a diploma. In the western part of T. there are (1997) more than 300 different colleges, of which over 60 are universities. In two states there are also a few Gesamthochschulen, which have programs from both traditional universities and the Fachhochschulen.
After the association, East German universities were expanded to today 17. Most colleges were merged and converted to 26 Fachhochschulen (the term was not in the GDR). In addition, there are 14 art and music colleges in the new states.
In 1960, only 8% of each year started higher studies, today about one third apply for a study site. More than 1.8 million students (of which 42% are women) are now in Germany, with only about half as many study places and far from as many teachers as would be needed. In June 1996, a special program (Hochschulesonderprogramm) was decided, which (with DM 3.6 billion) between 1996 and 2000 will promote structural improvements and the influx.
Parties and organizations
In 1945, with the permission of the occupying forces, four political parties were formed. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Communist Party (KPD) were the continuations of the traditional workers’ parties from the Weimar Republic. New was a Christian Democratic Party (CDU, in Bavaria: CSU), which was an association of politicians from the former Catholic Center Party, Protestant bourgeois groups in northern Germany, and peasants. An association among various liberal and national conservative groups led to the formation of the FDP as a liberal party.
Apart from the anti-socialist FDP, the parties initially advocated various variants of socialism. The SPD wanted a “third way” between capitalism and communism. The KPD agitated for a German path to socialism and avoided – in the sign of the national front – preferably socialist demands. The CDU acquainted itself with a non-capitalist economic system of society with strong elements of Christian socialism. This view kept the party at approx. 1947 (Ahlener Program). After the victory of the Adenauer wing, the party quickly developed in an ecclesiastical-conservative direction.
In the early 1950s, a number of new parties emerged, most on the right. They originated in regional features (Bayern Party), in the confessional divide (Zentrum) and in refugee special problems (BHE), but they also expressed that the right-wing forces began to rally again in neo-fascist parties (SRP and DRP). The ban on SRP and KPD in 1956 was justified by the experience of the Weimar Republic, where the enemies of democracy had been free to destroy democracy. In fact, the ban on the KPD was a typical manifestation of McCarthyism and traditional anti-communism in the German bourgeoisie.
From 1961, only three parties were represented in the Bundestag, namely SPD, CDU / CSU and FDP. The 5% limit on access to parliament and state party funding ensured that new parties could not have parliamentary influence. Only during the economic crisis of 1967-68 did the Neo-Nazi NPD almost succeed in exceeding the barrier. The party gained representation in most state parliaments, but was then shaken by an internal crisis and did not come in federal day.
Especially since 1959 (the Gotesberger Program), the SPD has tried to evolve from a class party to a people party that claims to represent the interests of the entire nation. Still, the majority of its voters still come from the working class. CDU / CSU is first and foremost the bourgeois party, but especially in Catholic regions of southern and southwest Germany, it also has support from the working class.
The largest workers’ organization is the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB), the German LO, with approx. 7 mill. members, of which approx. 20% women. While in the Weimar Republic there was a strong political and religious divide within the trade union movement, in October 1949 the DGB was founded as a unity trade union movement. This means that CDU members are also represented in the trade union’s governing bodies. DGB consists of 16 industrial unions – the metal workers union is 2.3 million. members the biggest – organizing all workers within an industry, ie workers, officials and government employees. The organization rate is 32.8% (1975) not nearly as high as in the Nordic countries.
The German trade union movement could achieve its social policy objectives as little as the demand for increased co-determination. Nor could the emergency laws be prevented. But the increase in real wages, working time reductions, longer vacations and social policy improvements have largely ensured mass loyalty. This turns out, among other things. knows that there have been few strikes in the history of the Federal Republic.
The evolution of the environmental movement is quite uneven. Its protest first focused on industrial pollution, urban devastation, the construction of new highways, etc. Later, it manifested itself primarily in the fight against nuclear power plants – Wyhl, Brokdorf, Kalkar and so on. Despite the ideological problems, “green lists” gained a lot of support, especially among younger voters in the cities. In 1979 and 1980, it succeeded in getting into several state parliaments. The establishment of the Environmental Party, the Greens, and especially the Program Congress in 1980 continued to show great contradictions between a reactionary-conservative wing and an anti-capitalist direction.