The Fading Miracle


Were the Germans really so hard-working after losing the war, as we have been led to believe? And was the proverbial German industriousness the cause of the economic miracle, which became the founding myth for a whole generation? The answers to these questions are pursued in the investigative historical documentary “The Fading Miracle”.

Every nation has a founding myth, which gives its people a certain identity. For Germany it is the economic miracle. It sounds like a fairy tale: after the lost war the country was reduced to smoke and ashes, and its people were living in ruins. But then the Germans pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps with nothing but their bare hands and sheer hard work. But was this really the case?

More recent research sheds new light on the German postwar economic expansion. It wasn’t sheer German perseverance that caused the boom, but the fact that after 1945 Germany had unique resources and opportunities at its disposal. Most of them are rooted in the war economy. As paradoxical as it sounds: the German economic boom was made possible because of the war, not in spite of it. An uncomfortable truth for the Germans, and a bitter pill to swallow.

TV Broadcast: 15th July 2013 at 11:50pm on WDR