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The Fall of Rome – an author dialogue

Today we present a dialogue between Bryan Ward-Perkins and Peter Heather. Ward-Perkins and Heather are colleagues at Oxford University and the authors of The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization and The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians, respectively. Both books were published this fall and offer new explanations for the fall of the Roman Empire. Here is part one of their dialogue, part two is available here.

Recent scholarship has argued that the Western Roman Empire did not “decline” or “fall,” but was “transformed” by accommodating new barbarian populations within the Empire’s political and economic structure. You both seem to oppose this argument and view it as a more cataclysmic affair. How would you characterise what happened in Western Europe between 376 and 476 AD?

Heather: I am entirely convinced by all the evidence that shows that the late Empire was not being torn apart by irrevocable processes of decline by the fourth century. Where I do part company with some revisionist scholarship, however, is over the argument that, because some Roman institutions ideologies and elites survived beyond 476, therefore the fall of the western Empire was not a revolutionary moment in European history. The most influential statement of this, perhaps, is Walter Goffart’s brilliant aphorism that the fall of the Western Empire was just ‘an imaginative experiment that got a little out of hand’. Goffart means that changes in Roman policy towards the barbarians led to the emergence of the successor states, dependant on barbarian military power and incorporating Roman institutions, and that the process which brought this out was not a particularly violent one.

To my mind, this view of the end of the Western Empire is deeply mistaken. Surely, there were plenty of Roman elements in the successor states, but one key institution was missing: the central authority structure of the Western Roman Empire itself. This had unified much of Western Europe for 500 years, but by 500 AD, had entirely ceased to exist.

Image Credit: “Pompeii Statue” – Photo by InteractMs, CC0 Public Domain, via pixabay.
Image Credit: “Pompeii Statue” – Photo by InteractMs, CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay.

Despite some assertions to the contrary, the central empire did not give up land voluntarily to the immigrant groups around whom the successor states formed. Every act of immigration except the first, in 376, was opposed to the best of the Empire’s strength, and even that was an attempt to make the best of an impossible situation. Likewise, every subsequent attempt by the immigrants to expand their position was resisted with determination, and for very good reason. Every loss of territory to an outside group represented a loss of vital, agricultural, tax base, and therefore of the Empire’s capacity to maintain its armies.

What emerges from all this is that the central Empire did not pass away quietly but was fought to extinction over a 70 year period of intense struggle. As the power of the imperial centre collapsed, local Romans had no choice but to make their peace with the new immigrant powers in the land, and their survival made it possible for some (but not all) of the successor states to use some Roman governmental mechanisms. But this kind of post de facto negotiation process absolutely does not mean that the Empire went peacefully. As all the recent evidence for fourth-century economic, cultural, and political vigour might lead us to suspect, the fifth-century Empire fought a long and determined, if ultimately unavailing, struggle for survival.

Ward-Perkins: Disappointingly (perhaps) I basically agree with Peter here – neither of us have much time for the theory that the empire was quietly ‘transformed’, by the peaceful ‘accommodation’ into it of some Germanic barbarians. We both believe in invasions that were violent and unpleasant, rather than what I have termed the ‘tea party at the Roman vicarage’ theory of settlement by invitation. I probably share Peter’s views, because I have heard him lecture on the subject many times, always with great conviction! Anyway, the idea that the fifth century was more peaceful than violent, just doesn’t fit the facts. Some degree of accommodation between invaders and invaded was possible, particularly over time. But I argue that the horrors of invasion are undeniable, and were often protracted, and that adjusting to rule under Germanic masters was painful and difficult for the Romans, used as they were to lording it over the known world.

Why was the Western Empire unable to fight off the fifth-century military challenge?

Vibia Sabina
Image Credit: “A statue of Vibia Sabina (c. 86-136/7) – Photo by lessi, CC by 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Heather: The old view was essentially that internal decline had destroyed its capacity to resist: moral decadence, depopulation, lead poisoning, the debilitating effects of its recent conversion to Christianity, or another internal cause of your choice. It is important to remember that the Empire had always had important limitations. The inherent limits of its largely agricultural economy meant that output could not be increased dramatically should new revenues and manpower be required to face new threats (the Romans failed, in other words, to invent either the tractor or chemical fertilizers). It had bureaucratic limits which affected its capacity to mobilise resources, and, perhaps above all, political limits. Its sheer size, especially after the rise of Persia to superpower status from the third century (see below), meant that power needed to be shared for administrative reasons, but political stability was immensely difficult to achieve. Any period of unity was always likely to be succeeded by another of internal rivalry or even civil war. But all of this had always been true, and won’t explain the catastrophic collapse of the fifth century. In my view, the roots of collapse have to be sought in the outside world, among the barbarians. I should say that I use ‘barbarian’ here only in the sense of ‘outsider’ (one of its Roman connotations).

First, in the third century, a new dynasty, the Sassanians, united what is now largely Iran and Iraq with the overt aim of overthrowing Roman hegemony in the Near East. Rome, for the first time, faced a rival superpower, which quickly inflicted three huge defeats on the Empire’s existing military establishment. New and bigger armies needed to be raised, therefore, as well as the funds to pay for them, and one Emperor was now required more or less permanently on the Persian front. The result was the so-called Third Century Crisis, which saw the Roman Empire go through 50 years of painful adjustment until, by c.300 AD, this new Persian threat was parried. Parried, though, not defeated, and this is a key point. After 300 AD, Persia remained a superpower and about a third of the Empire’s forces had always to be stationed on the eastern front. This directly affected its capacity to deal with further crises elsewhere, as did the fact that most of the available fiscal slack in its generally rigid agricultural economy had already been used up to fund the larger military establishment raised to face down the Persians.

This further ‘barbarian’ crisis duly unfolded towards the end of the fourth century on the Empire’s European frontiers brought on by the intersection of two separate phenomena. First, the Germanic world had been through a social, political, and economic revolution since the first century. Germanic socio-political units were now larger and more powerful than they ever had been before. Second, the Huns – the latest of what were clearly, in the ancient through to the later medieval period, periodic intrusions into central Europe of originally steppe nomadic groups – convulsed this hinterland in the generation after 375, especially in two particular moments of crisis, 376-80 and 405-8. By 410, enough barbarians were inside the western Empire to push it into a vicious circle of decline as its military assets were burned up in battle and its agricultural tax base eroded by warfare and forced grants of territory made to different barbarian groups.

Once inside the Empire, the barbarian immigrant groups continued to unify, producing still larger and yet more powerful entities that the Empire could not hope to dismantle. The result was a reversal of the strategic power advantage that had brought the Empire into being, so that these new, and more powerful, barbarian groups were able to carve out kingdoms for themselves from the Empire’s living body politic. This was no peaceful process, even if, in its aftermath, some local Roman elites came to terms with the new powers in the land, and hence made it possible for these kingdoms to show some Roman features.

Image Credit: “Fresco of a statue of Mars in the House of Venus, Pompeii” – Photo by Carole Raddato, CC by 2.0, via Flickr.

The existence of odd Roman elements must not, however, mislead us into thinking that we are looking at anything other than a revolution. The new states that emerged were not mini-Roman Empires. Key institutional differences – the absence of professional armies funded by large-scale taxation amongst others – as well as entirely different cultural patterns in areas such as elite literacy – the Classics – mark them out as entirely different kinds of entity from the Empire which preceded them. This was a highly violent process which both marked the culmination of long-term patterns of development in the periphery of the Empire and set European history off on a new course.

Ward-Perkins: When it comes to explaining the fall of the Western Roman Empire, we both believe that a series of unfortunate events was central to the story. Events (such as the arrival of the Huns), and chance play bigger parts in both our accounts, than deep structural weaknesses. I even argue that the eastern Roman Empire, which survived until Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, was saved, not because it was structurally stronger than the West, but mainly because it happened to have been dealt a favourable geographical hand. A thin band of sea separated and protected the heartlands of eastern prosperity (in Asia Minor and the Near East) from the barbarian-infested Balkans.

It is interesting that both of us should prioritize events and chance over structural change, because this seems to be the way that historians are moving right across the spectrum of historical thought. When I was a student, in the early seventies, we were all into profound structural changes, that swept people along inexorably; and we viewed events as banal and superficial. Nowadays (and probably it is just another fashion), individuals and concatenations of events, all of which might have gone differently, are seen as central to human history. In theory at least, according to modern thinking, I might be writing this sentence, not in England, but in a still-extant province of Britannia – if a few things had only gone better in the fifth century.

HEATHER: Here, there’s maybe a bit of difference between us because I do believe in the importance of structural change outside the Empire. It’s the argument I start to develop in the last chapter of my book, but much more elsewhere, namely that having to co-exist with a large and aggressive Empire pushes neighbouring populations into processes of socio-economic and political change, the end result of which is to generate societies more capable of parrying the Empire that started everything off. There is, in other words, a kind of Newton’s Third Law: to every Empire there is an opposite and equal reaction which undermines the preponderance of power in one locality on which the original Empire was based. This, in my view, is what happens in spades in the Near East with the Sassanians, and is already happening in important ways in non-Roman Europe, when the Huns come along to generate a precocious unity among the Germani. But, given enough time, the Germani might have got there anyway!

Click here to read the rest of the dialogue.

Featured Image Credit: “Colosseum, Rome, Italy”, Photo by Unsplash, CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay.

Recent Comments

  1. John Kelley

    I have just completed Peter Heather’s book on the fall of the Roman Empire and I thoroughly enjoyed it for several reasons that I need not go into now. I am going to read shortly The Fall of Rome and The End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkins. I have, however, a question to ask both authors. Why is it so important to use the date of 476 as the end of Rome. Why didn’t you both take the story of Rome to 554 AD at the end of the Gothic Wars? My reason for asking this question is that there appeared to be a rebirth of Roman culture under Theodoric the Ostrogoth. It appeared the the political, economic, and social structure of Italy continued to be intact until the Gothic wars. And that the Eastern Roman Empire was largely responsible for initiating the incredible destruction of civilization in Italy.

  2. Bryan Ward-Perkins

    I agree with you, I wouldn’t for a moment see 476 as particularly significant – it is just the date that the last western emperor resident in the West was formally deposed. He had already lost almost all effective power long before, and another claimant (resident in Dalmatia) remained for some time. I also agree that, if the Goths had been left in peace, things might have started to get better again – a Gothic king might have decided to become emperor, centuries before Charlemagne made this daring move in 800. The Gothic Wars (and the subsequent Lombard Wars) were indeed BAD NEWS for Italy!

  3. John Kelley

    To: Bryan Ward-Perkins
    Thank you for your quick response to my question about the dates of 476 and 554. I just returned from purchasing your book, The Fall of Rome And The End of Civilization at Borders Book Store, Poughkeepsie, NY. I am looking forward to reading it. A quick scan on chapter titles notably “The Disappearance of Comfort” has really perked my interest.
    John Kelley

  4. John Kelley

    To: Bryan Ward-Perkings. I purchased your book on Friday and finished reading it Saturday morning. I am particularly happy that you covered aspects of the Gothic Wars. Secondly, your summation at the end evokes a phrase I remember from Graduate School “History is but a bag of tricks we play on the dead.” We all see some aspects of history as the basis for a usable past and living in the United States as an American allows me to use Roman civilization as a model for analyzing what is happening here. I am not in any way suggesting history repeating itself, but there patterns to give pause to current conditions. It is interesting how you have referred to the beginnings of Late Antiquity with respect to Peter Brown’s study. Forgive my arrogance of stating how I came to study this period of time. About 23 years ago, I watched a docudrama called Threads on PBS(Public Broadcasting Service) which dealt with the impact of a limited nuclear excange and its effect on England. This program came out at the same time, the American program The Day After was televised. The effects of a nuclear winter on England were powerful to say the least especially as they described England falling back into pre Doomsday book levels of population. After I saw this program, I read everything I could on the period known as Late Antiquity and into the Early Middle Ages. When I was in England I was able to buy Gildas and I found his descriptions powerful in describing a Tsunami barbarian wave rolling over the English landscape. I also have Peter Salway’s Roman Britain and I was taken by archeological finds that support a rather large population in England during the Roman period. In addition, on the internet, I saw either aerial views, or maps describing a rather populous country side. I understand there is a controversy on what was the population of the Empire. I have no way of gauging population based on my own studies, but I would suspect that the population may have been above the 70 million figure. In the 150 years, or so I can see a significant and rather quick decline in population. War at any time in history is shattering. Let me just allude to the burning of Atlanta, Georgia. The destruction of Atlanta, Georgia was conducted by the Union(North)Corps of Engineers with the emotional support of the hatred of Union soldiers for the munition factories of this city. In 4 days, the city was methodically destroyed. Atlanta by 1864 had 20,000 people with several thousand dwellings. Journalists who came to Atlanta after the was spoke about finding the skeletons of people not all soldiers in the woods surrounding the city as well as the destruction of the city and towns in the country side. Many deaths caused by starvation, since the entire infra structure collapse. If an army of 60,000 Union soldiers can do this to an American city, it is quite clear to me that the invasions across the Rhine in 406 and the invasions of England later were horrific. Having married an English lady from Tunbridge Wells in 1964 has given me the opportunity to visit a number of Romano-Briton sites as well as putting together a fairly good library on Rome and Roman Britain. This interest was far from my studies in college and graduate school were: Victor Chernov and the Social Revolutionaries/Russian Revolution in College and American Foreign Policy/the administration of JFK in Graduate School. Since 1978, my studies are in Antebellum urban history and the Civil War period in America, but I love Late Antiquity history. I agree with you that Roman civilization sustained a tremendous injury if not a death blow in some areas. I also believe that the core of Roman civilization in Italy weathered the initial blows only to have as its destroyer the Eastern Roman Empire under Justinian.This tragic end to Italy by Justinian may not have happened had this Emperor been more worldly as former Emperors, or more cultured, or had been such a strong intolerant Christian. If Justinian had been more of a secularist this may have been different. What was unique about Theodoric was his tolerance. He was a better man than Justinian and I shake my head for the positive views expressed in high school and college texts of Justinian. It would have been an incredible turn of events had Belisarius taken the Ostrogoths offer to rule!

  5. Bryan Ward-Perkins

    Thanks for a very interesting reply – I am about to start ‘The March’, so Sherman is very much on my mind as well (incidentally, was the choice of ‘Sherman’ as the name for the WWII tanks odd, given southern sensibilities? Would a tank be named after him today?). I don’t think the Germanic wars were quite as bad as this – nor as bad as the effects of a nuclear holocaust (which, as you say, would be very sudden and dreadful). But I do think the evidence is clear that their cumulative effect was very damaging in terms of economic dislocation and consequent population decline. I learned my history in the 60s, when ‘events’ like wars weren’t seen as significant – but I’ve changed my mind!

  6. Peter Heather

    I didn’t take the story past 476 partly because 376 to 476, the main block of my narrative, is too good a framing to lose! More seriously, there has been a tendency in recent years to pretend that 476 didn’t matter, that nothing really changed. There’s something in that, but 468-76 saw the final unravelling of any attempt to maintain an overarching Roman imperial structure in any substantial part of its former dominions. And for that reason, it really is an important date, even if there are Roman people, some Roman institutions, and some Roman ideologies still around in parts of the old western Empire afterwards. Theoderic’s propaganda pretended that he was the western Roman Empire continued, but that was a pose; he was as much a successor state king as Clovis of the Franks.

  7. John Kelley

    To Bryan Ward-Perkins.
    Since 1978, I have specialized in Civil War Photographic History. I’m a member of The Center for Civil War Photography. My key quest is to show photographs are primary sources. With respect to the city of Atlanta, I have reconstructed the city based upon George Barnard’s photographs. Recently, the Library of Congress has digitized 7,000 Civil War photographs in tiff format which are extraordinary. You can look at these in jpeg format as will, but the tiff format runs fro 10 to 25 megs per photo. Robert Fenton’s photographs of the Crimean War are also incredible. They are 50 – 55 megs per photo and when blown up you can view the seige of Sebastopol(sp).
    And they were taken in 1855. The photographs of Atlanta though reveal a very vibrant city that before 1837 did not exist. The lands had just been taken from the Creek and Cherokee indians about 1829 – 1830. George Barnard’s photographs published by Dover Press have two photographs of Atlanta that were taken about the Spring, or early Summer of 1866 ~ a year and a half after the organized destruction of Atlanta by Sherman. These two photographs have helped to mislead many many about the total extent of destruction, because they do not represent Atlanta as it was during the Civil War. The Library of Congress has all of the known Barnard photographs of Atlanta that he took between September – November 11th, 1864 and you will literally see a different city ~ Barnard took the 1866 views from basically the same place.
    I do want to read The March. At the moment I’m reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals and I’m very much impressed with her writing style as well as her use of source materials. She has a very human quality to her writing. My wife who is from Tunbridge Wells also has her own copy of the book. She travels with me to Civil War battlefields as well as every Roman site we can get in Englnd – so I’m a very lucky guy.
    If there is any help you need on the photographs, or any source materials please let me know.

  8. John Kelley

    To Bryan Ward-Perkins
    Post Script
    Prior to the introduction of the Sherman Tank, there was the Stuart and Grant/Lee tanks so that there was an effort to demonstrate a sense of unity in the USA. By 1941, the Sherman tank had not received a bad press in the South. In the 1870s, Sherman had visited Atlanta and was welcomed. This was a time that the South looked to a new South economically and were will to break bread with the North. I think Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind probably rekindled old hatreds more than the Sherman tanks. In 1943, when I was 5 years old, we moved to Atlanta because my dad was in the Governmant and stationed at an Air Force base. My mother was pregnant with my sister and they could not find nice housing. We had a room, bath, and a small kitchen in a post bellum former mansion. Yankees were not too welcomed in the South.

  9. John Kelley

    To: Peter Heather
    With respect to the 100 years ~ 376 to 476, I agree it was important to bring an end to the coverage with a formal termination of a Western Roman Emperor. Your study demonstrated the Roman army had a resilency to 468. After 476, were there Roman army units that existed between 468 – 476 (non-barbarian units) which continued to exist as military units within the Odovacar army in Italy after 476? Or was the Roman army so pervasively barbarian by this time that there were not a significant number of troops, or officers that were Roman.
    I understand the point you are making about Theodoric. In spite of his view that he was an extension of the Empire, the people in Rome and in Italy seem to be flourishing under his rule as a king. I noted reading about his entrance into Rome ca. 500 AD that had the impression of a triuumph. He was paying for restoration of public buildings within Rome and attempting to show his respect for Roman civilization.
    During the Gothic Wars, I’ll never forget reading about the destruction of Milan. This was the second largest city in Italy and it was destroyed? Is that a fair understanding of what the Franks did, or has archealogy prove that did not happen. This was part of my reading Bury two volumes on the Late Roman Empire. One thought that just struck me. We see the model of Rome many times as it is laid out. If Milan was the 2nd largest city in Italy, has any effort been placed to do the same for Milan?
    Thank you for responding to my emails. I deeply appreciate it!
    John Kelley

  10. Thomas Riepe


    I wonder if the demographic development in Germany allows to think about similarities to Rome’s decline? What do you think?

    Below some links + robot-translated articles. (sorry for the bad english, but I lack time to correct it)

    Best wishes,
    Thomas Riepe



    demographic data:

    Abandoned country, lost country

    by Jochen Boelsche

    Scientists speak of a social time bomb. By decline in the birthrate, unemployment and mass exodus the rural area threatens itself to transform a development, which tabuisiert a trust of the parties into a “ocean of poverty and dementia” -.

    For months Wolfgang Bue on moving shoes roamed across the corners and ends close to the border of the Federal Republic. Recently, in its best-seller “Germany, a journey”, balanced the price-crowned author, to it on the long march by the border regions became clear that its homeland covers “large spiritful parts”.

    Some God-abandoned area jottwedeh, wrote the traveler reporter, reminds of “forbidden wings of an extensive house, which will not enter may”.

    Darkly war’s at the Baltic Sea coast: Bue roamed across heruntergekommene stations, which quilt him to a “station in” reminded, and triste places with aermlichen shops, which were called “remainder ramp” or “Vietnamesi clothe market”. Then the moving man came into the abgewrackte industrial city Guben to the Neisse. There he found not only confirmed, of which he had been warned before tags: “that there was no pub in Guben”. Bue: “it was like that that there were not Guben.”

    “Provinzialisierung of the province”

    Similarly as Bue reacts traveler, who looks out in the West German province, disturbs far off the racing courses and the centers of dense development. If the author of Baden-Wuerttemberg Ruediger Baessler returns to the village world, whose tightness he escaped once as a young man, then “compassion in place of weariness” strikes it in view of all the “weathering station buildings, pflanzenbewucherten sidewalks, playground devices disintegrating, empty, dust-blind shop windows” – for it sad symptoms of a rapidly progressing “Provinzialisierung of the province”.

    More and more characteristics of creeping purge also the former agrarian minister Renate Kuenast west with her official travel in rural Germany, east as, noticed. “you can go through villages, in those actually give it to nothing more”, tell them. “where a mast enterprise was, collapses today the stable. The village tavern lies in the Sleeping Beauty slumber. The boys left the area.”

    The Green Kuenast ranks within the political class among the exception features. Most of their colleagues in the capitals of federation and countries rather displace that the grassierende decline in the birthrate and unemployment, which Vergreisung and the drift left in many places a lost country by no means only in the area of the former GDR – dark Germany of goes west.

    “off into the forests – wolves step to the place of humans”

    Foreign observers seem to dedicate more attention to the phenomenon than some a German Grossstaedter, for which the broad bacon belts approximately adjust the view of the galloping fall at the edges of the country by the metropolises and deeply in its inside.

    “off into the forests” – like that previous year a title history of the news magazine “Newsweek” was overwritten, which lit up the European-wide depopulation of the rural area sharply: Also in Germany whole regions fell “back into the urzeitlichen condition, wolves step to the place of humans”. And the “new inhabitants of zurich newspaper” already the migration from the land above all younger, better formed German reported leads inevitably to the “depopulation” and “verb RST dung” of far parts of the Federal Republic on reminders.

    Scientists, who follow to the trend since longer in their studying rooms and on symposiums, are itself over the fatal consequences of the development far away united: In east such as West Germany the population shrinks due to the low birth rate – hardly noticeably for the time being still in some densely populated areas, racing fast however in those provinziellen zones, which cannot profit from influx and zuwanderung, but, in the opposite, under massive migration from the land into economically stronger regions suffer, particularly into the rich south of the republic.

    “only no children to witness and then not die want”

    “born for decades in Germany of fewer humans than dying. Meanwhile even zuwanderungen cannot stop the natural decrease any longer – the country has to shrink begun. Regionally already now enormous distortions do the result of its recent study, which is published tomorrow on “, commentate Berlin-Institut for population and development. The experts the perspectives analyze city for city, circle for circle – from Berlin (“Marode capital, flourishing surrounding countryside, sieche periphery” over Saxonia-Anhalt (“country of the emptiness”) up to the Saarland (“where the west today already shrinks”).

    “that the Germans only no children do not want to witness and then die”, as the historian Michael stuermer describes the malicious combination of sinking geburtenzahl and rising life expectancy make already today whole regions loser regions with more shrinking and at the same time obsolete population.

    The “demographic change” takes place “everywhere in Germany”, doziert the citizen of Berlin economist Ulrich shrubs, in the east however it already to the “demographic disaster” attained full growth itself. Shrubs: “large cities as resounds, Magdeburg, Frankfurt (or), Cottbus, new Brandenburg, Gera and Dessau loses within fewer decades up to the half of its inhabitants.” The economist knows that it is “hardly conceivable” for outstanding ones, “which it for a city with in former times more than 300,000 inhabitants as resounds or means Magdeburg within two generations to 150.000 to descend”.

    While the large cities shrink, the villages already die. “whole regions such as north Thuringia, Ostprignitz, Altmark, Uckermark, Vorpommern and the Lausitz are abandoned the depopulation,” state shrubs. In Vorpommern for example, which has only 65 per cent of the population of 1970 with scarcely 500,000 inhabitants, Wuestungen, thus observed given up settlement places, gradually to the “surface phenomenon”, Greifswalder demographer Helmut Klueter.

    Immigrants do not pull into the shrinking zones

    There and elsewhere, off the prosperierenden cities and their surrounding countryside, so-called “cumulative contraction processes” carry out themselves, rotate malicious vicious circles. Economic problems – drift – increased economic problems – drift increased and so on and so on: A downward spiral without end leads after the judgement of the experts to the fact that Germany in east and west will just as profoundly change as last in the Middle Ages.

    The development, noticed by some straight only, seems hardly still avoidable. Because with only 1.36 children per woman Germany has meanwhile one of the lowest birth rates in the European Union. So that the population remains stable, the cut would have to be however with 2,1 children. So however each new child generation will be smaller around a third than those of their parents – a saekularer trend, which works far inside into the future, because all the Ungeborenen from today and tomorrow fails as parents from tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

    Also a still so strong influx of immigrants alone could, against wide-spread erring faith, who do not stop “Unterjuengung” and “Entdichtung” in the loser zones. “the problem lies in it”, says the national planner refuge Carpenter, “that the immigrants not into the same places will move, which suffer at present from decrease in population”. Because immigrants do not pull to unemployment in all rule of the work afterwards and evenly – and already not at all into raue regions, which are of ill repute because of their stranger hostileness.

    Cigarette automat as last piece of infrastructure

    Above all politicians were it, the long time the eyes locked before that oppressive future, which already began also in the west. There are it already everywhere: the veroedeten places, from which the intelligent heads moved away; the province nests without post office and without police, without ministers and without physician, without tavern and without shop – villages, whose economic infrastructure consists often straight times of a cigarette automat, if necessary still from a bus little house or a gas station, and where coma drinking is the most popular pastime for skinheads and other Halbwuechsige.

    For many years, the hannoversche academy for space research and regional planning judges, extent and effects of the depopulation “a political taboo” was. Who brings up for discussion polarized society shrinking in one mentally on growth, the citizen of Berlin regional sociologist professor Hartmut Haeussermann can win “no flower pot” with the voter evenly, believes: “shrinking to flat is not an attractive task, is not sexy.”

    This topic, James Vaupel, will thus develop director of the institute for Max-Planck for demographic research, without doubt for the central question of the coming decades. Each in the area, the professor in the citizen of Berlin swore to realm day being astonished delegates, “the remainder of his political career will spend to master the consequences of the demographic change”.

    That the “demographic bomb”, of which recently also the Bertelsmann donation warned will leave a social no man’s land in many regions that the outline pear threatens whole boroughs – such insights nevertheless already reached many humans in a part of the country: in the east of Germany, where 1.3 million dwellings (with place for at least four million inhabitant) stand at present empty and where many surplus disk’s buildings were made flat long.

    While problem consciousness is “relatively well pronounced” in the East German population meanwhile, Philipp Oswalt, which worked on the future topic “shrinking cities” on behalf of the culture donation of the federation, in the old countries observed completely different reactions: “the majority of the West German ones does not realize certain problem situations.” Also SPD point man Matthias already warns place-hits a corner ignorant west comrades: “which today already happens, is approaching in the east also in the west with full force.”

    The fact that the danger did not penetrate in the old countries yet into general consciousness has a simple reason. The West German birth rate cannot of course adjust since beginning of the seventies the deaths any longer. But the occasional extremely strong zuwanderung mostly younger humans from East Germany and from the foreign country did not brake the consequences of the bearing and generation tiredness in the west first fully pierce to let and the contraction and Vergreisungsprozess temporarily.

    Golden atolls in an ocean of poverty and dementia

    The anti- Aging effect of the zuwanderung diminished clearly meanwhile. The Bevoelkerungsforscherin Juliane Roloff does not surprise that: “a foreign population in Land/einer region contributes on a long-term basis not to the taper ratio of the total population, there also her, simply expressed, ages.” Besides their bearing behavior in the run approaches the time in the influx country.

    To resist the negative trend for the time being many of the rampantly growing bacon belts at the green edge of the large cities could, where many recent families – itself a Gegentrend to the defiance, already drawing – often rather establish themselves than in the loud centers, which mostly likewise shrink. Among the migration profiteers therefore above all districts rank around cities such as Munich and Stuttgart, in addition, ring around Hamburg, Hanover, Duesseldorf or Frankfurt/Main as well as isolate areas in the east, in the neighbourhood of Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden.

    Between these golden atolls of growth the social researchers with the view to the future a “ocean of poverty and dementia” points itself, how the “South German newspaper” formulates drastic – a far zone without hope, whose inhabitant feels increasingly forgotten by the politicians in the metropolises, if does not betray.

    Promotion funds only for the “lighthouse regions”?

    Argwoehnisch hear it the words of Federal President Horst charcoal burner, who points out since longer that it always already gave “large differences in the living conditions” – “from north to south as from east to west” -, in order to add immediately: “who wants to graden it, cements the subsidy state.”

    Distrust wakes in the country outside of the bacon belts and the flowering zones in the south also the announcement of politician, which should not more scarcely becoming funds no more with the watering can are distributed. Eligible for promotion only selected development zones, which are called times “growth cores”, are times “dye centers”, times “lighthouse regions”.

    Such a strategy, them from economic view is so meaningful, would run outside on uncoupling of the half republic, on a two-class company of new style – here the beneficiaries of gehaetschelter work and presenting regions, there the population of remainder who can be neglected in the tacitly copied provinces, under it possibly more and more humans who flee themselves apathetically dahinvegetieren or in alcoholism and extremism.

    “the surface is vacated, the surface becomes polished”

    Openly and publicly political heads guess/advise like the Jenoptic Aufsichtsratsvorsitzende and Christian democrat Lothar Spaeth not to after-add “coals where the furnace out is”. To experts such as Joachim Ragnitz of Institut for economic research recommends the “passive reorganization” of the peripheral areas, the “trade paper” resounds demands from the State of “effective retreat strategies” – “up to the complete Entsiedelung and Renaturierung of some regions”.

    “one can call that brutally Sozialdarwinismus”, criticizes the citizen of Berlin “daily mirror” such prescriptions. Act it, so the sheet, however over accurately that principle, in accordance with which in truth long will tacitly proceed: “the policy did not only dare so far to make that public.” Specialists noticed the consequences long: “the surface is vacated, the surface becomes polished”, complains Wulf Haack, managing director of many years of the city and Districts organization of Lower Saxony.

    Among the best connoisseurs of the problem the researchers of institute for Berlin for population and development rank. The scientists generated a map, which shows the Germany of the future with the help of their data collections – and those, one and a half decades after the reunification, a second division of the country documents.

    A rust belt pulls itself crosswise by the republic

    The new German domestic border separates no more east and west, but encloses a broad flight corridor of the depopulation exactly, where in former times once the heart of the country pounded: Concerned among other things the former industrial areas of Saxonia over Thuringia up to the Kohlenpott are – a kind rust belt crosswise by the republic.

    Descent candidate number one within this region is the Ruhr district. The statistic national office in Duesseldorf forecasts the ski one ski country a contraction around approximately ten per cent; most badly meet it the city Hagen, which will lose even 16.3 per cent of its inhabitants. The left already frotzelte “taz”: “Ruhr district becomes the east zone.”

    Broken roads, halfempty penalty, unused classrooms, unvermietbare dwellings – the same symptoms of the fall as in the ex GDR and in the ex-Kohlenpott are to be expected according to Berlin-Institut in addition, in a further poverty zone, which encloses like a horseshoe the old federal territory.

    “Germany empties in the center and at its edges”

    In addition some remote parts of Baden-Wuerttemberg count along the west border, where by the population decrease likewise “whole regions come to Wuestungen”, as Susanne Dahm of the Karlsruher Uni-Institut predicts for town construction and regional planning, and a zone of the Saarland over the Eifel up to Niederrheini. In the north the caring ring of the coast, which suffers from the shipyard and fishery crisis, in the east follows follows the former edge of zone and the Bavarian forest.

    “Germany empties in its center and at the edges”, summarizes Berlin-Institut its prognosis. “medium-term”, says the Planerin Dahm, “must be assumed that that the population of all Lands of the Federal Republic, will not sink also Baden-Wuerttemberg, and at least in the European surrounding field sufficient Zuwanderungspotenzial is available, around this development also only approximately to adjust.”

    According to Federal Office for building industry and area planning the shrinking regions will already cover 2020 three quarters of all circle-free cities and each second district in the year. There everywhere became, for example in the public education, which step consequences of the baby break increasingly dramatically to day. “in the year 2020”, Berlin-Institut writes, “it in the old Lands of the Federal Republic nearly 20 per cent of fewer children in the Vorschulalter will give than 1991.”

    In the long term more swing chairs than schaukelpferde

    Municipalities however, in which it gives more swing chairs as schaukelpferde and more wheelchairs than roller skates, must increasingly kindergartens and schools close or fold up, old and nursing homes open, to traffic lines and supply lines adapt – hardly solvable tasks for municipalities, which lose tax receipts due to the contraction processes continuously.

    Thus heavy times come to these municipalities and their citizens. “sinking demand for public services may make users happy first (small classes, empty indoor swimming pools), but the expenditures for pro head grows rapidly”, gives the citizen of Berlin Urbanistik professor Heinrich Maeding to consider. Already soon “training and bath locking, increasing catchment areas, far ways” threatened.

    As zynisch and ignorantly local experts in the regions concerned feel also comments like that of economics professor Thomas Straubhaar of Hamburgi Weltwirtschaftsinstitut. Swiss scientist holds slim the opinion, for few humans staying in the shrinking zones becomes nevertheless “everything better”. Straubhaar: “mad, finally place!”

    Scientists complain about “all party being silent trust”

    The Bielefelder population researcher Herwig save annoys the “indignantness” from economists to think about the social consequences of the change seriously. “I am even a political economist and know therefore my colleagues well”, say the professor: “Demografie does not fit into the close tunnel thinking of the economists of today’s coinage.”

    For what is approaching for Germany, the president of many years of the German society for Demografie, is not suited “even the dreissigjaehrige war judges as comparison”: “ended after three decades with a peace and everything went again upward.”

    In the drift regions against it “the switches are durably set to shrinking”. This circumstance explains also the “all party being silent trust against the existence-threatening demographic erroneous trend”. Because, then save: “one normally conceals a problem, which does not have a solution.”

    Read in the next consequence:
    No future for the cow guild – farmer villages without farmer, land municipalities without local council, without shop, without tavern, without physician – not even more the church remains in the village

  11. Calina Paun

    Can you please help me with my project?
    I am doing a project on the Colosseum and I cant find anywhere anything in regards with : Haw the Colosseum made Rome more powerful than other nations…?? and haw the Colosseum changed the world…??
    I appreciate your help, thank you or your time.

  12. MARiA

    THiS iS SO COOL!!!

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