Some professors have been waiting 45 years for this week. For the faculty members who were born in Germany or those who have spent their entire careers researching Germany, this week's reunification of East and West Germany represents the beginning of a new era in their research. And while the German unity is just a day old, some have already used the startling events as basis for studying, celebrating and re-assessing the world. "I think that it's a new world," said History professor Thomas Childers. "The second World War is finally over." Childers, who teaches the popular "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" class, said that since both his father and uncle fought in World War II, he has devoted much of his research to the evolution of Nazism in the early part of the 20th century. Childers said he expects the new Germany to be very different from the one that existed in the first half of this century. He said that the fact that most Germans today were born after World War II is an assurance that this united Germany would learn from its past mistakes. But Childers is not alone in his optimism for the future. "What has happened since January internationally is more or less a stunning execution of the impression that they belong together," German Professor Frank Trommler said this week. But professors added that there must be several economic and political changes before the reunification can be declared a total success. Economics and Finance professor Lawrence Klein has spent the last year studying the dramatic changes in Germany as part of Project Link, an international group which attempts to predict the world economy. Klein, a Nobel Laureate in economics, said that the former West Germany will need to "bail out" the financially troubled East Germany, adding that there will probably be a need to rebuild the infrastructure and modernize work habits in the former Communist country. Still, he also predicted that the merger will be successful. "On the whole, people believe that this will be a production juggernaut -- that it will be a very powerful economic state," Klein said. "I think anyone who has been through the second World War is thinking back to the contrast in emotions in 1945 and today, wondering whether there will be a new Germany or not," added Klein. Assistant Political Science Professor Michaela Richter, who was raised in West Germany, said she never expected anything but the status quo for her native country. She also said she is still awed by the speed of reunification. "One [will have] to rediscover the identity in being German," she said. But the reunification of the Germany has affected more than just the personal opinions of the professors. Trommler and Richter, for example, have both visited Germany in the past year to do first-hand research of the remarkable changes. Trommler visited Germany in May to study the new economic plans, while Richter spent the summer in East Berlin and Bonn meeting with German political leaders. And Richter added that she believes after talking with German leaders this summer, that the new goverment will be able to handle any short-term problems caused by reunification. "The first thing one can say is that it's approached in a much more sober fashion," she said. "The enthusiasm of last December has, well, not evaporated, but changed into a sober energy to transform this Germany." "Although there are some differences about what the costs are and who will pay for it, for the first time there is a consensus," she added.Comments powered by Disqus
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