The Changing Face of Germany

Tracing the militaristic history of this rising European powerhouse

Looking back over the 17 years since the momentous evening of Nov. 9, 1989, the political progress Germany has made as a united nation is quite amazing.

On that heady autumn night, when the citizens of Germany took to the Berlin Wall with sledgehammers, picks and crowbars, and East Germans poured through Checkpoint Charlie onto the pavements of affluent West Berlin, the mood was one of jubilation. The Germany that was divided up among the victorious Allies following World War ii was once again united.

And as history shows, a united Germany is a real force to be reckoned with!

Yet, really, who has a mind to think on history in the light of this rapidly changing world order of today?

To view the political rhetoric, gossip, scandal and pseudo-news that fill our airwaves nightly, the mind of the public is being led to dwell on anything but connecting the repetitive history of the major nations with that which is developing today. Yet the very best of geopolitical strategists—Winston Churchill being a prime example—constantly had the history of a nation in mind when deciding foreign policy. One of the most brilliant of 20th century thinkers in the foreign-policy arena was Hans Morgenthau. He stated, “What was important 2,000 years ago is still important today.” Yet, tell that to our shallow journalists of the 21st century and they would laugh in your face!

Following recent American elections, the key issues of discussion were, inevitably, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Palestinians, China, North Korea and the forthcoming 2008 U.S. presidential election—anything but Europe, anything but Germany! Apart from the media briefly noting the signs of Europe’s jubilation at the Bush administration’s humiliation in the congressional elections, the subject of what is developing on the European continent did not even enter the political debates that swept the newswires, the radio and tv talk shows, the Web commentaries and blogs, as elect congressional leaders began considering changes to America’s foreign policy.

Meanwhile, tremendous tensions are building below the surface of global geopolitics—tensions that track right back to that seminal event of the fall of the Berlin Wall—events that have their real genesis in a history that falls right within the span of time that Morgenthau maintained we should take into consideration today when considering foreign policy. For that which is developing in Europe’s heartland today really does have a 2,000-year history behind it!

It’s as though the English-speaking nations breeze along, spoiled by generations of abundance, oblivious to the reality that something peculiarly significant to them is about to break—something akin to World Wars i and ii, only far bigger. Bigger by far than the continuing military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the skirmishes in Israel and northern Pakistan—far, far bigger than the perceived threat from an upstart leader of a third-rate nation testing nuclear devices and popping missiles across the bows of Japan.

In fact, what is increasingly looming on the geopolitical horizon, what went underground at the close of World War ii, will be larger by far in its total effect on the nations than any of the plethora of skirmishes, famines, catastrophes and plagues increasingly rampant on this long-suffering globe. And when it breaks—which will be soon, very soon—it will shake all nations with the most powerful geopolitical earthquake in history!

It will flow primarily from the European continent, and will revolve around one nation in particular—Germany!

Seeds of a Nation

The seeds of this great future world event were sown long ago with a group of mixed tribes that established themselves over 4,000 years ago as a nation having as their capital, at the height of the Assyrian empire, the city of Nineveh. In the process of their history, they earned a reputation for war. A certain type of war—blitzkrieg! As the poet Byron wrote in reference to those progenitors of the German nation, the ancient Assyrians, at the time of the siege of Jerusalem in 701 b.c. by their King Sennacherib, “The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold.”

Following the destruction of the Assyrian army as recorded in ii Kings 19, a mixed multitude of Assyrians and kindred tribes emerged, over time, from the great migrations northward of Mesopotamia, to settle initially at the Black and Caspian seas. Then, trekking west, they followed Europe’s great river systems to eventually settle between the Oder and the Rhine rivers, their southern border being the Alps, and to their north, the Baltic and North seas. They became virtual mercenaries in the employ of the Roman Empire, helping to secure the imperial borders as the empire stretched Rome’s resources beyond its capability to provide Roman military forces for that purpose. This was to prove Rome’s nemesis. The Germans took over the Roman Empire! In the process, they adopted Rome’s religion as well. (Request our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire for a fuller explanation of this remarkable piece of history.)

Having settled in central Europe, the Germanic tribes ultimately evolved into numerous petty statelets, each posing no real threat to the world at the time, yet which together within the 17th century were responsible for 30 years of bloody and horrendous warfare—religious war—among themselves and other nations in Europe. This Thirty Years’ War finally terminated with treaties of exhaustion famously known as the Peace of Westphalia, concluded in 1648 between the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand iii, the numerous German princes, France and Sweden, and between Spain and the Netherlands.

These warring factions in central Europe consisted largely of the Teutons, the Deutschevolk, that grand mix of Germanic tribes that longed for identity, for unity as a people, for a national soul. Recovery from their exhausting religious warring of the first half of the 17th century took the whole century and a half that followed. It was a significant setback for the German peoples. Yet, as has happened periodically throughout their history, finally a singularly strong leader emerged from the state of Prussia, an aristocrat intent on reviving German hopes for unity. The people were finally welded into a single nation courtesy of that great statesman Count Otto von Bismarck, master of the art of treaty making. In fact, not only did he deliver the German peoples a national identity, they also got an empire to boot!

From National Unity, to Empire, to War!

In 1867, Bismarck became chancellor of the North German Confederation. His striving for German unification, together with the German lust for Lebensraum (an expansion of territory giving more “room to live”), was to set a pattern to be repeated in the future.

By 1871, this confederation of Germanic states had quickly expanded into the German Empire following Bismarck’s successful challenge to France’s supremacy in Europe via the Franco-Prussian War. In that year, Bismarck became the first chancellor—the “Iron Chancellor”—of the German Empire. This empire grew intercontinentally in the remaining decade of the 19th century to include regions of Africa, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands.

By 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm had led Germany into the greatest war this world had ever witnessed. Though figures vary, well over 8 million souls were slaughtered in that Great War. It was billed at its end as “the war to end all wars.”

It didn’t.

Barely 20 years after the guns fell silent on the Western Front, Germany was enmeshed yet again in conflict, but one that would end with far greater loss of life, far greater trauma and destruction of property than was possible through the weapons of destruction employed in that first world war. The term holocaust took on a newly horrific meaning.

What began with Hitler rolling into Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, ended with Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945. The German nation, less than 75 years on from its creation under Bismarck, lay in ashes.

To ensure that a unified Germany, with a cadre of top military brass at its helm, would not pose a threat to world peace again, the three world leaders of the victorious Allied nations met at Potsdam in the summer of 1945. They carved Germany up among them, eliminated the German High Command, and declared that never again would Germany be permitted to rise as a military threat to the peace of the world.

It did not last long.

Vanquished and Revived

Barely 10 years from Germany’s surrender following World War ii, on May 6, 1955, the Federal Republic of Germany joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Western Allies felt that without a strong continental army on Germany’s eastern flank, all Europe lay exposed to Communist domination. Naively thinking that West Germany was on the road to becoming a genuine and willing democratic nation, Britain and America allowed, encouraged and cajoled the Federal Republic of Germany, amid great debate, to rearm! The result was the creation of the German Bundeswehr only months after Germany entered nato.

There followed 35 years of German involvement under the nato umbrella as part of the great Cold War standoff, during which Germany and the Soviet Union stared at each other across the divide that split Berlin between East and West.

Governing the evolution of the German nation from that of a divided, disarmed, vanquished “enemy of the world” in 1945, to the growing status it has today of an active peacekeeper, has been a series of three government “white papers” issued over a period of 50 years. A white paper (the name comes from the color of the cover) is an official government document informing the public of government policy.

In 1969, the government of West Germany produced its first white paper review of the nation’s defense forces. The goal of rearming as a member of a Western, anti-Soviet security community had, in part, been fulfilled. But the prime goal of post-war German administrations—the reunification of Germany—remained elusive.

This white paper publicized a watershed transition of German defense and security policy: from one solely supportive of the Western Alliance to one that, while remaining under the nato umbrella, reflected uniquely German goals. This policy prepared Germany for that which the nation believed was inevitable: the reunification of the German nation.

Then came Nov. 9, 1989. The Berlin Wall tumbled. Within a year, Germany was officially united once again as a single nation.

By the end of 1991, the united Germany’s first foreign policy move, recognizing Slovenia and Croatia as nation states independent of greater Yugoslavia, fueled civil war in the Balkan Peninsula.

The Balkan wars are now history, as is the fact that they were used to legitimize the use of the German Air Force, and later ground forces, in combat zones outside of their home borders for the first time since Germany was vanquished, never again “able to disturb the peace of the world,” over 60 years ago. A German politician is now high commissioner to the EU for Bosnia-Herzegovina. The European Union is well advanced in its plans to swallow up the whole of the strategic Balkan Peninsula through its highly undemocratic, gaping maw!

From the Balkans to Beirut

After the newly united Germany’s success in sparking the Balkan wars, another white paper followed in 1994. This reflected Germany’s desire to be involved in a wider security and defense role and to secure territorial gains in the crucial Balkan Peninsula for the EU.

This white paper carried the evolutionary process of German rearmament from the prior-stated intention of being solely for self-protection within its own national borders, to beyond, into foreign theaters. The result was a federal vote that removed constitutional objections to German military personnel being deployed in peacekeeping missions outside the country.

The upshot?

During remarks at the Bundeswehr Commanders’ Conference, Dec. 1, 1999, at Hamburg, U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen pointed out, “[I]n recent years, Germany has proven that the past need not bind a people and their leaders in perpetuity. Germany, the Bundeswehr, has embraced missions the world over, from Cambodia to Somalia and today even in East Timor. When ethnic animosities were stoked until they ignited in all of Bosnia, Germany responded; supporting airlifts to the Bosnian people, sending your soldiers to keep the peace” (emphasis mine throughout). The secretary failed to point out that it was Germany that stoked those ethnic animosities by unilaterally recognizing Slovenia and Croatia as sovereign nations separate from greater Yugoslavia!

Since then, the Bundeswehr has deployed to Africa, the Mediterranean, the Caucasus, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Its most recent deployment is off the coast of Israel, engaged in the peacekeeping force in Lebanon, right on the doorstep of Jerusalem!

But, there is a third white paper—this one produced just a few months ago.

In October, following a decade of publicly decrying any prospect of increase in its military forces, and highly publicizing budget “cuts” to military expenditure, Germany set about revolutionizing its army in order to boost its global presence. The former chairman of the National Institute for Public Policy explained, “[T]he fact that Berlin is about to approve a reorganization of the German Army is going to heighten that country’s role in international peacekeeping and thus world politics. The Bundeswehr, with a total of 250,000 personnel (the regular U.S. Army now has about 490,000 soldiers), will be reorganized primarily into a combat-capable intervention and security force, as opposed to its original mission of assisting in defending its borders. This mission change will require not only a near complete alteration of [its] current training and doctrine, but it also will demand a reordering of its equipment and supply structure. … The objective of the reorganization is to provide the Bundeswehr with the ability to assign a total of 14,000 troops to five international missions simultaneously” (American Spectator, Oct. 31, 2006; emphasis mine throughout).

The German government has laid out its strategy for developing a military force capable of intervening in any theater deemed vital to German interests anywhere on the globe! This “White Paper 2006 on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr” outlines a strategy for Germany fast-tracking the nation’s military machine into one of world-class status.

Under the headline “Germany in Radical Shake-up of Military,” the Financial Times of London reported, “Germany will on Wednesday adopt the most radical restructuring of its military since 1945, turning the Bundeswehr into an international intervention force, according to an internal cabinet strategy paper …. The 133-page strategy paper argues that the capacity of the Bundeswehr must be expanded to allow for the deployment of a total of 14,000 troops to five international missions simultaneously. … The paper confirms conscription will be retained” (Oct. 24, 2006).

Regarding this latest review of German security and defense policy, Associated Press concluded, “It amounts to another step away from the caution and isolation born of Germany’s World War ii legacy” (Oct. 25, 2006).

To those who followed the broadcasts and writings of Herbert W. Armstrong throughout his long ministry—and who still remember—those words ring as an electrifying endorsement of the power of biblical revelation.

He Was Right

One can only imagine—61 years ago, while Germany lay as a beaten hulk in its own ashes—the faith required for a man to declare that Germany would arise one more time to wreak havoc on this world, in a gigantic sign of the imminence of the return of Jesus Christ!

Herbert Armstrong was one who believed Morgenthau’s dictum that “what was important 2,000 years ago is still important today.” More than that, he had the “more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19) that allowed him to match history with current events and determine their ultimate outcome. With boldness and complete faith in the inerrancy of Scripture, Herbert Armstrong declared that that old nation of Assyria, in its modern Germanic form, would be the instigator of the most horrific of “wars to end all wars”! He repeatedly broadcast and wrote that a united Europe, led by Germany, is destined to lead a world-ruling empire of stupendous power, economically, militarily, even religiously. He powerfully underscored that though its rule is prophesied to be brief—less than a few years—the havoc it will wreak during that time will leave other nations reeling in awe at the swiftness of its deployment and the destructiveness of its power over its enemies, chief of which will be those that, in their supreme ignorance of history, rearmed it after the last great global conflict!

To those who still have ears to hear, this most recent action by the German government to upgrade and expand its military machine illustrates the powerful foresight of a mind willingly led, influenced and guided by God in its analysis of world events through the revelation of Bible prophecy.

The world may gloat, but Herbert Armstrong WAS right! Just how right is daily becoming apparent as we teeter on the brink of huge global events leading to the greatest geopolitical intervention of all time, the return of Jesus Christ to this war-torn, war-weary Earth!

If you understand this clear message of currently unfolding world events even now building to a great climax at the close of one age of man and mankind’s introduction to a new, unbelievably peaceful, glorious age of abundant, unheard-of blessings, then it’s time to really pray, “Thykingdom come”!

Request your own copy, gratis, of Mr. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages. It will give you the true sense of this rapidly developing global crisis, and will give you great hope for the future that lies beyond it!