At about that time the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, and World War II's European nightmare eventually ended. Tens of millions were dead, Hitler committed suicide in Berlin, and Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies in 1945.
Germany was in total rubble, the Allies (Britain, France and the US) transformed the western region of Germany into the Federal Republic of Germany. Flooded by large amounts of US capital, rebuilding and recovery began. In the east the (Soviet Zone) became the Communist German Democratic Republic, or GDR.
Even worse, the Communists built a wall through the center of Berlin that separated the two; in the west Germany sprang back to life and grew into an affluent democracy, but in the east (thanks to Communism) the GDR withered on the vine and all but died.
Communism finally collapsed in eastern Europe with the decline of the USSR (communist Russia). That wall (the Berlin Wall) was breached and down it came, and the incorporation (or reunification) of East Germany into West Germany was the inevitable result.
Since then, united Germany has expended considerable funds to bring Eastern productivity and wages up to Western standards. In January 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced a common European exchange currency, the Euro.
Recently, Germany has taken a more active role in the European Union and NATO. Germany sent a forces to secure stability in the Balkans and sent a force of German troops to Afghanistan to provide security in that country. All military deployments are controversial since, after the war, Germany was bound by law only to deploy troops for defence roles.
In 2005, history was made in German politics when Angela Merkel was elected the first female Chancellor of Germany. Following her election, Merkel created the current coalition government replacing the Social Democratic Party with the Free Democratic Party (FDP).
As Europe's largest economy and second most populous nation, Germany remains a key player in the continent's economic and defense organizations, as well as being one its most popular tourist destinations.
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