Although the definite article is used in a very similar way, I have noticed that it is often used in German in a way that an English speaker would find to be very counter-intuitive or unnecessary. I am not sure if there is a grammar principle at work that I am not aware of, or if it is simply a matter of pure convention. The following sentence, culled from a german-english dictionary, illuminates a bit of what I am talking about:
Nach einer langen Phase der Besatzung erklärte der Staat seine Unabhängigkeit.
The country declared independence after a long period of occupation.
From an English perspective, using the definite article here would be confusing and quite awkward (i.e. after a long period of the occupation ), namely because we have an indefinite article and definite article as part of the same phrase. But that is precisely what we have in the German, and as far as I can tell, such a mixing of definite and indefinite articles does not seem to be an issue.
My question is: Shouldn't von be used here instead? are von and genitive der interchangeable in this context? How can I be sure when to use one over the other?