Sunday, November 1, 2009
Question about Berlin as capital of Germany
A reader, Ken, sent in the following question by e-mail:
Hi, my friend is currently trying to do an assignment regarding Berlin and got a question asking what is the reason that Berlin has some serious rivals as the nation's primary city.
I have tried to search through the net but I can't really find 'reasons' other than assuming that other states have tourism sites and other specific aspects like Frankfurt as the city of banks. I hope that you can help in this matter. Thanks before hand.
I think there are two sets of historical factors at play here.
Firstly, Germany as a nation is quite recent (the first modern German nation state wasn't founded until 1870) and as such it consists of many regions with their own strong identities and political and economical traditions. For example, Frankfurt was always a centre of banking even in the middle ages. So following the establishment of Germany with Berlin as its capital, even though it was the nation's largest city it was still in some respects competing with other large cities such as Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Leipzig etc., something other European capitals such as Paris or London didn't face to the same extent.
Secondly, the division of Berlin after the Second World War effectively put an end to Berlin's status as the dominant economic and political city within Germany. While it remained nominally the capital of both East and West Germany, few western German businesses were willing to remain in West Berlin due to the uncertain political situation and the costs of getting goods and materials in and out, and many relocated to other areas of Germany. Siemens is one example which comes to mind. Meanwhile the economy of East Berlin was always a bit of a joke, though it was by far and away the "richest" city within the German Democratic Republic.
Following reunification, while government has returned to Berlin, few of the businesses once based there have moved back, so much of Germany's "strength" is spread about over its regions, rather than concentrated in the capital city.
I hope that helps to answer your question!
Posted at 4:18 AM in