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In the classroom

In the classroom
Source: Wilhelm Sanke

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Political heavy-weights

We're practising democracy! In 1950 the people can bulletvote again in NRW. Two issues dominate the election campaign: church schools and workers' rights in heavy industry. The CDU retains power but still needs a coalition partner to govern the state.

After the election, nine Christian Democrat ministers sit in the cabinet alongside two members of Zentrum, the Catholic-oriented Centre Party.

The SPD is in opposition. It has fought on a ticket to abolish the existing distinction between Catholic and Protestant schools in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Social Democrats banner reads "Karl Siemsen - for Christian but non-denominational schools".

Actually, that's the personal preference of the CDU state premier, Ministerpräsident bulletKarl Arnold, too. However, he must bow to pressure from the national party and support church-linked schools.

After Arnold's victory, the NRW CDU wouldn't mind governing in a broad alliance with the SPD, but bulletKonrad Adenauer puts his foot down. Adenauer can't prevent Arnold from becoming state premier of NRW - though he'd dearly like to! - but, now in office since 1949, the Federal Chancellor is strong enough to block an alliance with the SPD.

Arnold defers, but returns fire on another issue. With the trade unions on his side, he defeats Adenauer on the question of "bulletcodetermination" for workers - or at least those in the coal and steel industry. They get a voice in their companies and North Rhine-Westphalia gets a reputation as the "social conscience of the Federal Republic"!

As for the FDP, the liberal Free Democrats have fought the campaign in a nationalistic mood, celebrating the nation despite the wreckage of a lost war: "Believe in Germany - Work for Germany - Vote for Germany - FDP!" This gets them votes, but they are not yet considered suitable for sharing power.

Dirk Bitzer

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Rolling fifties

The new currency kicks in, and the economy takes off. Food rationing stops on 22 January 1950. You can even buy as much petrol as you can afford. At this point very few Germans are motorised, but that will change ...  bullet go on