One of my pet theories developed over the years about why the German economy has failed to utterly dominate Europe is that the end of the Cold War was the worst outcome for the Germans. Rather than the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the DDR as a sovereign entity being of great importance to the German people, reunification increased the population of the country by 20-25% but the investment needed to bring the country up to the approximate standards of the West has been a massive drain on the country’s resources – it’s little wonder unemployment stands at 5million when compared with the UK, it should be no more than 4.

But what really hit the German economy for six was the withdrawal of the British, American and French armed forces from Germany from 1991 after the successful conclusion of the First Gulf War and the collapse of the USSR. I’m no economist but my calculations have indicated that (at today’s prices), approximately £3 trillion was pumped into the German economy since 1945 by the three powers maintaining sizable military presences and with all the auxiliary staff needed + the families in West Germany, it’s little wonder how the West German miracle occurred.

Some families went native much more quickly than others. Whilst some soldiers/families maintained a vehement anti-German line, most of us service families began to wander beyond the confines of the English speaking communities and into the heart of the town where we were living. We went to German shops, we drank in German Taverns and we ate in German restaurants. With scant detail provided to service facilities like the Naafi, there was little wonder why. One running joke amongst us kids was that the Naafi in Oxford Barracks was known as the “Naff All” whilst the Naafi in York Barracks was known as the “Naff Off”.

And as we looked more to the German model for inspiration, we drove German cars (Volkswagens and Opels for enlisted personnel, BMWs and Mercedes for the officers), we bought German styled furniture, we marked German holidays in the calendar and to some extent began to integrate with locals. Rather than save up for the annual or semi-annual trip to the UK, more money was invested into the German economy so that the UK’s economy sagged and the German economy soared.

And then Gorbachev came to power in 1985 and within six years the USSR was signed out of existence at the stroke of a pen, its insistence of putting guns before butter signing its doom. With cuts needed to a bloated military budget, soldiers were demobbed as fast as they could sign their redundancy agreements. Troops began to come home with rapid pace in the early 1990s and the German people themselves knew this was the beginning of the end of the good times. With a massive sinkhole in the east sucking up cash but contributing little in return (at least at the moment), they had come to depend on the extra infusion from the Brits, the Americans and the French.

I can’t remember whether I’ve posted this on my blog before but I might have slotted it into a hand-written book somewhere. And I’ve definitely posted about it on as the single most important factor in determining why Germany (as so many “experts” predicted) failed to become a dominant world power as some of the most…wild fantasists conceived. Ditto Japan but that was more the Americans stationed over there ensuring that the Japanese never went communist with the USSR, Red China and North Korea on their doorstep – not that it’d have happened, it’s too traditionalist but that’s pretty much the same reason why they didn’t dominate the world as the setting of Blade Runner and Robocop 3 hinted at.