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 Geschichte Bayerns > Review > Reconstruction

After the end of World War II, on September 19, 1945, the US military government issued its "Proclamation No. 2", reconstituting the land of Bavaria with its pre-1933 borders and depriving it of the Rhenish Palatinate and the municipality of Lindau. Proximity to the Soviet occupation zone and the "Iron Curtain" placed Bavaria in a strategically weak position until 1989, with disadvantages for its economy and transportation.

The wartime bombing destroyed 33 percent of Munich, 51 percent of Nuremberg, and 24 percent of Augsburg. The city of Würzburg lost 74 percent of its buildings. Nevertheless, the losses incurred by Bavaria accounted for only around 5 percent of those in the rest of Germany. Dismantling of the arms industry also had very little effect on Bavaria, with the result that by the end of 1948, industrial production was already at 76 percent of its pre-war level.

Homelessness, unemployment and famine, despair about the dead or missing, depression about the hopelessness of the political situation, and confrontation with the crimes of the Nazi regime dominated postwar life. The US military government introduced de-Nazification programmes, and "reeducated" the people in democracy. All media were subject to supervision by American censorship, and newspapers and publishing houses could only be operated with a special licence from the government.

The broken traffic connections had to be rebuilt - they included 745 road bridges alone. Far earlier than the other occupying powers, the Americans allowed industrial enterprises to begin work again. The firm of Siemens moved from the ruins of Berlin to Munich.

In 1945 and 1946, Bavaria took in almost 2 million refugees; integrating them into society was a huge challenge for the population and the state. This turned out to be a great opportunity for a new economic start, however. In the medium term there was a gradual structural change, resulting in growing urbanisation, an over-proportional expansion of the service sector, and increased economic activity and industrialisation.