May 9th in German History: Germany Joins NATO and Friederich Schiller Dies

Today in History: West Germany Joins NATO (1955)
West Germany Joins NATO.

Yesterday I discussed Germany’s surrender in the Second World War. Today, I want to talk about how the nation allied. Following the Cold War, the United States created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to prevent its former allies, the Soviet Union, from spreading Communism through Europe. On May 9th of 1955, its former enemy, Germany, would join NATO.

West Germany, like every other democratic nation in Europe, was fearful of Communist invasion. The London and Paris Conferences allowed Germany to rebuild its military. Although France and the other nations of Western Europe still remembered the Second World War quite vividly, they chose to make a decision for the future rather than one based on past animosity. Securing the alliance of West Germany was critically important as it was quickly becoming the dominant economic power in Western Europe. Over the following decades, Germany would undergo a level of rearmament not equivalent to that which it had conducted in the 1930s but one which still made it a formidable military power. In response to West Germany joining NATO, The Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact in order to secure its control over Eastern Europe. The two sides of the Cold War in Europe had thus formed their alliances. Germany would be firmly allied with the West from then on and, as part of NATO, would win the Cold War. West Germany saw perhaps the greatest gain from the end of the Cold War, as it untied with the satellite state in East Germany. Although joining NATO perhaps put Germany at odds with the Soviet Union, the decision would help redeem Germany to the Western powers and rehabilitate the nation’s image.

Portrait of Schiller by Ludovike Simanowiz (1794)
Friederich Schiller. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Friederich Schiller died on May 9th, 1805. Schiller was a poet, philosopher, and play write who is most famous for his dramas and his discourse with Goethe. His discussions with Goethe led to a period of German culture called Wiemar Classicism. Schiller is considered the most important play write of his time and is most famous for the play William Tell. Schiller wrote letters on Aesthetics, most famously The Aesthetic Education of Man. Schiller moved around a great deal during his life, and was ennobled in 1802 for his work.

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