Economic history of Germany

Until the early 19th century Germany, a federation of numerous states of varying size and development, retained its pre-industrial character, where trade centered around a number of free cities. After the extensive development of the railway network during the 1840s, rapid economic growth and modernisation sparked the process of industrialisation.[1] The largest economy in Europe by 1900, Germany had established a primary position in several key sectors, like the Chemical industry and steel production.[2][3][4] High production capacity, permanent competitiveness and subsequent protectionist policies fought out with the USA and Britain were essential characteristics.

By the end of World War II, the country's economic infrastructure was completely destroyed. West Germany embarked in its program of reconstruction with financial support provided by the Marshall Plan and, guided by the economic principles of the Minister of Economics Ludwig Erhard excelled in the economic miracle during the 1950s and 1960s. East Germany's last remaining economic facilities were dismantled by the Soviet occupation force as one of the first steps of the war reparations plan.[5] The country was embedded in the Eastern Bloc system of socialist planned economy. It fell far behind in terms of living standards, with very high industrial pollution until it was absorbed by West Germany in 1990 and rebuilt under capitalism.[citation needed]

Contemporary Germany employs a highly skilled work force in the largest national economy as the largest exporter of high quality goods in Europe, like cars, machinery, pharmaceutics, chemical and electrical products with a GDP of 3.67 trillion USD in 2017.[6][7][8][9][10]