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The Sound of German Unity

05 Dec 2013

The National Broadcasting Company is engaged in an epic round of trolling tonight, with half the population of Twitter joining in, which requires some additional trolling about German unification and Anschluss:

It’s well established today that nations should, when the residents wish, be formed based on linguistic criteria. Germany and Austria are both German countries; it’s only 150 years ago that they allied to defeat my own country in the cause of German unity.

There are, of course, historical reasons for a degree of skepticism about German unity. The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany reminds us that the “confirmation of the definitive nature of the borders of the united Germany is an essential element of the peaceful order in Europe.” That’s well and good, but the borders of both the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria are as definitive as they could be, and it’s hard to see how one more round of unification hurts that peaceful order.

There are two impediments to German unification: the Treaty on the Final Settlement precludes Germany from expanding its borders, and the Austrian State Treaty, which ended the military occupation of Austria, specifically prohibits “political or economic union between Austria and Germany”, restricts Austria to its pre-1938 borders, and mandates Austrian neutrality.

Austria joined the EU in 1995 and adopted the euro, so there is already a precedent for violating the treaty. Here is my suggested compromise: Germany and Austria can reunite, but Germany–Austria has to leave the euro zone.