West Germany – West Deutschland – Bonn Republic – 1949–1990

West Germany was the informal name for the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland, in the period between its formation on 23 May 1949 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. During this Cold War period, the western portion of Germany was part of the Western bloc. The Federal Republic was created during the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Its (provisional) capital was the city of Bonn. The Cold War-era West Germany is unofficially historically designated the Bonn Republic.

  • Government – Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Republic.
  • Capital –  Bonn.
  • Nick Name – Bonn Republic.
  • Chancellor –
    • Konrad Adenauer – 1949–1963,
    • Ludwig Erhard – 1963–1966.
    • Kurt Georg Kiesinger – 1966–1969.
    • Willy Brandt – 1969–1974.
    • Helmut Schmidt – 1974–1982.
    • Helmut Kohl – 1982–1990.
  • President –
    • Theodor Heuss – 1949–1959.
    • Heinrich Lübke – 1959–1969.
    • Gustav Heinemann – 1969–1974.
    • Walter Scheel – 1974–1979.
    • Karl Carstens – 1979–1984.
    • Richard von Weizsäckerb – 1984–1990.
  • Legislature – Bundestag.
  • Historical Era – Cold War.
    • Formation – 23 May 1949.
    • Accession of Saar Protectorate – 1 January 1957.
    • Admitted to the United Nations – 18 September 1973.
    • Reunification – 3 October 1990.
  • Area – 1990 248,577 km2 -95,976 sq mi.
  • Population-
    • 1950 – 50,958,000.
    • 1970 – 61,001,000.
    • 1990 – 63,254,000.
  • GDP (PPP) 1990 Estimate – $946 billion – 4th in the World.
  • Currency – Deutsche Marke (DM).
  • Motto – Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit – Unity and Justice and Freedom.
  • Anthems – 
    • Ich hab’ mich ergeben and Hymne an Deutschland – 1949–1952.
    • Das Lied der Deutschen – 1952–1990.

At the onset of the Cold War, Europe was divided among the Western and Eastern blocs. Germany was de facto divided into two countries and two special territories, the Saarland and a divided Berlin. Initially, the Federal Republic of Germany claimed an exclusive mandate for all of Germany, considering itself to be the sole democratically reorganized continuation of the 1871–1945 German Reich. It took the line that the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was an illegally constituted puppet state. Though the GDR did hold regular elections, these were neither free nor fair. From the West German perspective, the GDR was therefore illegitimate. Three southwestern states of West Germany merged to form Baden-Württemberg in 1952, and the Saarland joined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1957. In addition to the resulting ten states, West Berlin was considered an unofficial de facto eleventh state. While legally not part of the Federal Republic of Germany, as Berlin was under the control of the Allied Control Council, West Berlin politically aligned itself with West Germany and was represented in its federal institutions.

The territory of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from the accession of the Saar on 1 January 1957 to German reunification on 3 October 1990.

The foundation for the influential position held by Germany today was laid during the Wirtschaftswunder (Economic Miracle) of the 1950s when West Germany rose from the enormous destruction wrought by World War II to become the world’s third-largest economy. The first chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who remained in office until 1963, had worked for a full alignment with NATO rather than neutrality. He not only secured a membership in NATO but was also a proponent of agreements which developed into the present-day European Union. When the G6 was established in 1975, there was no question as to whether the Federal Republic of Germany would become a member.

Flag.
Coat of Arms.

Following the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989, symbolized by the opening of the Berlin Wall, there was a rapid move towards German reunification. East Germany voted to dissolve itself and accede to the Federal Republic in 1990. Its five post-war states (Länder) were reconstituted along with the reunited Berlin, which ended its special status and formed an additional Land. They formally joined the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990, raising the number of states from ten to sixteen, ending the division of Germany. The reunion did not result in a new country; instead, the process was essentially a voluntary act of accession, whereby West Germany was enlarged to include the additional states of East Germany, which had ceased to exist. The expanded Federal Republic retained West Germany’s political culture and continued its existing memberships in international organizations, as well as its Western foreign policy alignment and affiliation to Western alliances like UN, NATO, OECD, and the European Union.

Just Click on Any Picture Below to Make it Large for Viewing!!

Color Photos

Information

Off Color Photos

Black and White Photos

Occupation zone borders in Germany, 1947. The territories east of the Oder-Neisse line, under Polish and Soviet administration/annexation, are shown in cream, as is the detached Saar protectorate. Bremen was an American enclave within the British zone. Berlin was a four-power area within the Soviet zone.

History

On 4–11 February 1945, leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union held the Yalta Conference where future arrangements regarding post-war Europe and Allied strategy against Japan in the Pacific were negotiated. Throughout the 1930s, Nazi Germany had followed a policy of reclaiming German lands lost in the Versailles Treaty, and of reuniting other territories occupied by German peoples within the German Reich, so the Allies agreed that the boundaries of Germany as at 31 December 1937 would be chosen as demarcating German national territory from German-occupied territory; all German annexations after 1937 were automatically null. Subsequently, and into the 1970s, the West German state was to maintain that these 1937 boundaries continued to be valid in international law; although the Allies had already agreed amongst themselves that East Prussia and Silesia must be transferred to Poland and the Soviet Union in any Peace agreement. The conference agreed that post-war Germany, minus these transfers, would be divided into four occupation zones: a French Zone in the far west; a British Zone in the northwest; an American Zone in the south; and a Soviet Zone in the East. Berlin was separately divided into four zones. These divisions were not intended to dismember Germany, only to designate zones of administration.

By the subsequent Potsdam Agreement, the four Allied Powers asserted joint sovereignty over Germany as a whole, defined as the totality of the territory within the occupation zones. Former German areas east of the rivers Oder and Neisse and outside of Germany as a whole were separated from German sovereignty in July 1945 and transferred from Soviet military occupation to Polish and Russian civil administration, their Polish and Russian status to be confirmed at a final Peace Treaty. Following wartime commitments by the Allies to the governments-in-exile of Czechoslovakia and Poland, the Potsdam Protocols also agreed to the orderly and humane transfer back to Germany as a whole of the ethnic German populations in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. Eight million German expellees and refugees eventually settled in West Germany. Between 1946 and 1949, three of the occupation zones began to merge. First, the British and American zones were combined into the quasi-state of Bizonia. Soon afterward, the French zone was included in Trizonia. Conversely, the Russian zone became East Germany. At the same time, new federal states (Länder) were formed in the Allied zones; replacing the geography of pre-Nazi German states such as the Free State of Prussia and the Republic of Baden, which had derived ultimately from former independent German kingdoms and principalities.

In the dominant post-war narrative of West Germany, the Nazi regime was characterized as having been a criminal state, illegal and illegitimate from the outset; while the Weimar Republic was characterized as having been a failed state, whose inherent institutional and constitutional flaws had been exploited by Hitler in his illegal seizure of dictatorial powers. Consequently, following the death of Hitler in 1945 and the subsequent capitulation of the German Armed Forces, the national political, judicial, administrative, and constitutional instruments of both Nazi Germany and the Weimar Republic were understood as entirely defunct, such that a new West Germany could be established in a condition of constitutional nullity. Nevertheless, although the new West Germany rejected any continuity with both Nazi Germany and the Weimar Republic, it asserted its fundamental continuity with the overall German state that was held to have embodied the unified German people since the Frankfurt Parliament of 1848, and which from 1871 had been represented within the German Reich; albeit that this overall state had become effectively dormant long before 8 May 1945.

In 1949 with the continuation and aggravation of the Cold War, the two German states that were originated in the Western Allied and the Soviet Zones became known internationally as West Germany and East Germany. Commonly known in English as East Germany, the former Soviet Occupation Zone, eventually became the German Democratic Republic or GDR. In 1990, West Germany and East Germany jointly signed the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany; by which transitional status of Germany following World War II was definitively ended, the Four Allied powers relinquished their joint residual sovereign authority for Germany as a whole, the two parts of Germany confirmed their post-war external boundaries as final and irreversible including the 1945 transfer of former German lands east of the Oder-Neisse line, and the Allied Powers confirmed their consent to German Reunification. From 3 October 1990, after the reformation of the GDR’s Länder, the East German states joined the Federal Republic.

The Volkswagen Beetle – for many years the most successful car in the world – on the assembly line in Wolfsburg factory, 1973.

West German Economic Miracle – Wirtschaftswunder

The West German Wirtschaftswunder was due to the economic aid provided by the United States and the Marshall Plan. This improvement was sustained by the currency reform of 1948 which replaced the Reichsmark with the Deutsche Mark and halted rampant inflation. The Allied dismantling of the West German coal and steel industry finally ended in 1950.

As demand for consumer goods increased after World War II, the resulting shortage helped overcome lingering resistance to the purchase of German products. At the time, Germany had a large pool of skilled and cheap labor, partly as a result of the flight and expulsion of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe, which affected up to 16.5 million Germans. This helped Germany to more than double the value of its exports during the war. Apart from these factors, hard work and long hours at full capacity among the population and in the late 1950s and 1960s, extra labor supplied by thousands of Gastarbeiter (guest workers) provided a vital base for the economic upturn. This would have implications later on for successive German governments as they tried to assimilate this group of workers.

From the late 1950s onwards, West Germany had one of the strongest economies in the world, almost as strong as before the Second World War. The East German economy showed a certain growth, but not as much as in West Germany, partly because of continued reparations to the USSR in terms of resources.

In 1952, West Germany became part of the European Coal and Steel Community, which would later evolve into the European Union. On 5 May 1955, West Germany was declared to have the authority of a sovereign state. The British, French and U.S. militaries remained in the country, just as the Soviet Army remained in East Germany. Four days after obtaining the authority of a sovereign state in 1955, West Germany joined NATO. The UK and the USA retained an especially strong presence in West Germany, acting as a deterrent in case of a Soviet invasion. In 1976, West Germany became one of the founding nations of the Group of Six (G6). In 1973, West Germany home to roughly 1.26% of the world’s population featured the world’s fourth-largest GDP of 944 billion (5.9% of the world total). In 1987, the FRG held a 7.4% share of total world production.

West Germany (blue) and West Berlin (yellow) after the accession of the Saarland in 1957 and before the five Länder from the GDR and East Berlin joined in 1990.

NATO Membership

With territories and frontiers that coincided largely with the ones of old Medieval East Francia and the 19th-century Napoleonic Confederation of the Rhine, the Federal Republic of Germany, founded on 23 May 1949, under the terms of the Bonn–Paris conventions it obtained the full authority of a sovereign state on 5 May 1955 although full sovereignty was not obtained until the Two Plus Four Agreement in 1990. The former occupying Western troops remained on the ground, now as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which West Germany joined on 9 May 1955, promising to rearm itself soon.

West Germany became a focus of the Cold War with its juxtaposition to East Germany, a member of the subsequently founded Warsaw Pact. The former capital, Berlin, had been divided into four sectors, with the Western Allies joining their sectors to form West Berlin, while the Soviets held East Berlin. West Berlin was completely surrounded by East German territory and had suffered a Soviet blockade in 1948–49, which was overcome by the Berlin airlift.

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 led to U.S. calls to rearm West Germany to help defend Western Europe from the perceived Soviet threat. Germany’s partners in the Coal and Steel Community proposed to establish a European Defence Community (EDC), with an integrated army, navy and air force, composed of the armed forces of its member states. The West German military would be subject to complete EDC control, but the other EDC member states Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands would cooperate in the EDC while maintaining independent control of their own armed forces.

Though the EDC treaty was signed in May 1952, it never entered into force. France’s Gaullists rejected it on the grounds that it threatened national sovereignty, and when the French National Assembly refused to ratify it in August 1954, the treaty died. The French Gaullists and communists had killed the French government’s proposal. Then other means had to be found to allow West German rearmament. In response, at the London and Paris Conferences, the Brussels Treaty was modified to include West Germany and to form the Western European Union (WEU). West Germany was to be permitted to rearm being an idea many Germans rejected, and have full sovereign control of its military, called the Bundeswehr. The WEU, however, would regulate the size of the armed forces permitted to each of its member states. Also, the German constitution prohibited any military action, except in the case of an external attack against Germany or its allies (Bündnisfall). Also, Germans could reject military service on grounds of conscience, and serve for civil purposes instead.

The three Western Allies retained occupation powers in Berlin and certain responsibilities for Germany as a whole. Under the new arrangements, the Allies stationed troops within West Germany for NATO defense, pursuant to stationing and status-of-forces agreements. With the exception of 55,000 French troops, Allied forces were under NATO’s joint defense command. France withdrew from the collective military command structure of NATO in 1966.

Konrad Adenauer in parliament, 1955.

Reforms During the 1960s

Konrad Adenauer was 73 years old when he became chancellor, and for this reason, he was initially reckoned as a caretaker. However, he stayed in power for 14 years. The grand old man of German postwar politics had to be dragged almost literally out of office in 1963. In 1959 it was time to elect a new President and Adenauer decided that he would nominate Erhard, the architect of the economic miracle. Erhard was not enthusiastic, and to everybody’s surprise, Adenauer decided at the age of 83 that he would take on the position. He apparently believed that this would allow him to dominate the scene for up to ten more years in spite of the growing mood for change. However, when his advisers informed him that the powers of the president were almost entirely ceremonial, he quickly lost interest. An alternative candidate was needed and eventually the Minister of Agriculture, Heinrich Lübke took on the task and was duly elected.

In October 1962 the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel published an analysis of the West German military defense. The conclusion was that there were several weaknesses in the system. Ten days after publication, the offices of Der Spiegel in Hamburg were raided by the police and quantities of documents were seized. Chancellor Adenauer proclaimed in the Bundestag that the article was tantamount to high treason and that the authors would be prosecuted. The editor/owner of the magazine, Rudolf Augstein spent some time in jail before the public outcry over the breaking of laws on freedom of the press became too loud to be ignored. The FDP members of Adenauer’s cabinet resigned from the government, demanding the resignation of Franz Josef Strauss, Defence Minister, who had decidedly overstepped his competence during the crisis. Adenauer was still wounded by his brief run for president, and this episode damaged his reputation even further. He announced that he would step down in the fall of 1963. His successor was to be Ludwig Erhard.

In the early 1960s, the rate of economic growth slowed down significantly. In 1962, the growth rate was 4.7% and the following year, 2.0%. After a brief recovery, the growth rate slowed again into a recession, with no growth in 1967.

A new coalition was formed to deal with this problem. Erhard stepped down in 1966 and was succeeded by Kurt Georg Kiesinger. He led a grand coalition between West Germany’s two largest parties, the CDU/CSU and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). This was important for the introduction of new emergency acts: the grand coalition gave the ruling parties the two-thirds majority of votes required for their ratification. These controversial acts allowed basic constitutional rights such as freedom of movement to be limited in case of a state of emergency.

Rudi Dutschke, a student leader.

During the time leading up to the passing of the laws, there was fierce opposition to them, above all by the Free Democratic Party, the rising German student movement, a group calling itself Notstand der Demokratie (Democracy in Crisis), and members of the Campaign against Nuclear Armament. A key event in the development of open democratic debate occurred in 1967, when the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, visited West Berlin. Several thousand demonstrators gathered outside the Opera House where he was to attend a special performance. Supporters of the Shah later known as Jubelperser, armed with staves and bricks attacked the protesters while the police stood by and watched. A demonstration in the center was being forcibly dispersed when a bystander named Benno Ohnesorg was shot in the head and killed by a plainclothes policeman. It has now been established that the policeman, Kurras, was a paid spy of the East German security forces. Protest demonstrations continued, and calls for more active opposition by some groups of students were made, which was declared by the press, especially the tabloid Bild-Zeitung newspaper, as a massive disruption to life in Berlin, in a massive campaign against the protesters. Protests against the US intervention in Vietnam, mingled with anger over the vigor with which demonstrations were repressed led to mounting militance among the students at the universities in Berlin. One of the most prominent campaigners was a young man from East Germany called Rudi Dutschke who also criticized the forms of capitalism that were to be seen in West Berlin. Just before Easter 1968, a young man tried to kill Dutschke as he bicycled to the student union, seriously injuring him. All over West Germany, thousands demonstrated against the Springer newspapers which were seen as the prime cause of the violence against students. Trucks carrying newspapers were set on fire and windows in office buildings broken.

In the wakes of these demonstrations, in which the question of America’s role in Vietnam began to play a bigger role, came a desire among the students to find out more about the role of the parent-generation in the Nazi era. The proceedings of the War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg had been widely publicized in Germany but until a new generation of teachers, educated with the findings of historical studies, could begin to reveal the truth about the war and the crimes committed in the name of the German people. One courageous attorney, Fritz Bauer patiently gathered evidence on the guards of the Auschwitz concentration camp and about twenty were put on trial in Frankfurt in 1963. Daily newspaper reports and visits by school classes to the proceedings revealed to the German public the nature of the concentration camp system and it became evident that the Shoah was of vastly greater dimensions than the German population had believed. The term Holocaust for the systematic mass-murder of Jews first came into use in 1979, when a 1978 American mini-series with that name was shown on West German television. The processes set in motion by the Auschwitz trial reverberated decades later.

The calling in question of the actions and policies of the government led to a new climate of debate. The issues of emancipation, colonialism, environmentalism, and grassroots democracy were discussed at all levels of society. In 1979, the environmental party, the Greens, reached the 5% limit required to obtain parliamentary seats in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen provincial election. Also of great significance was the steady growth of a feminist movement in which women demonstrated for equal rights. Until 1977, a married woman had to have the permission of her husband if she wanted to take on a job or open a bank account. Further reforms in 1979 to parental rights law gave equal legal rights to the mother and the father, abolishing the legal authority of the father. Parallel to this, a gay movement began to grow in the larger cities, especially in West Berlin, where homosexuality had been widely accepted during the twenties in the Weimar Republic.

Logo of the Red Army Faction.

Anger over the treatment of demonstrators following the death of Benno Ohnesorg and the attack on Rudi Dutschke, coupled with growing frustration over the lack of success in achieving their aims led to growing militance among students and their supporters. In May 1968, three young people set fire to two department stores in Frankfurt, they were brought to trial and made very clear to the court that they regarded their action as a legitimate act in what they described as the struggle against imperialism. The student movement began to split into different factions, ranging from the unattached liberals to the Maoists and supporters of direct action in every form such as anarchists. Several groups set as their objective the aim of radicalizing the industrial workers and taking an example from activities in Italy of the Red Brigades (Brigade Rosse), many students went to work in the factories, but with little or no success. The most notorious of the underground groups was the Red Army Faction which began by making bank raids to finance their activities and eventually went underground having killed a number of policemen, several bystanders and eventually two prominent West Germans, whom they had taken captive in order to force the release of prisoners sympathetic to their ideas. In the 1990s, attacks were still being committed under the name RAF. The last action took place in 1993 and the group announced it was giving up its activities in 1998. Evidence that the groups had been infiltrated by German Intelligence undercover agents has since emerged, partly through the insistence of the son of one of their prominent victims, the State Counsel Buback.

Willy Brandt and Willi Stoph in Erfurt, 1970, the first time a Chancellor met a GDR prime minister.

Political Developments 1969–1973

In the 1969 election, the SPD headed by Willy Brandt gained enough votes to form a coalition government with the FDP. Although Chancellor for only just over four years, Willy Brandt was one of the most popular politicians in the whole period. Brandt was a gifted speaker and the growth of the Social Democrats from there on was in no small part due to his personality.

Brandt began a policy of rapprochement with West Germany’s eastern neighbors, a policy opposed by the CDU. The issue of improving relations with Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany made for an increasingly aggressive tone in public debates but it was a huge step forward when Willy Brandt and the Foreign Minister, Walther Scheel (FDP) negotiated agreements with all three countries being the Moscow Agreement, August 1970, Warsaw Agreement, December 1970, Four Power Agreement over the status of West Berlin in 1971, and an agreement on relations between West and East Germany, signed in December 1972. These agreements were the basis for a rapid improvement in the relations between east and west and led, in the long-term to the dismantlement of the Warsaw Treaty and the Soviet Union’s control over Eastern Europe. Chancellor Brandt was forced to resign in May 1974, after Günter Guillaume, a senior member of his staff, was uncovered as a spy for the East German intelligence service, the Stasi. Brandt’s contributions to world peace led to his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.

Position Towards East Germany

The official position of West Germany concerning East Germany at the outset was that the West German government was the only democratically elected, and therefore the only legitimate, representative of the German people. According to the Hallstein Doctrine, any country with the exception of the USSR that recognized the authorities of the German Democratic Republic would not have diplomatic relations with West Germany.

In the early 1970s, Willy Brandt’s policy of Neue Ostpolitik led to a form of mutual recognition between East and West Germany. This helped to normalize relations between East and West Germany and led to both German states joining the United Nations. The Hallstein Doctrine was relinquished, and West Germany ceased to claim an exclusive mandate for Germany as a whole.

Following the Ostpolitik the West German view was that East Germany was a de facto government within a single German nation and a de jure state organisation of parts of Germany outside the Federal Republic. The Federal Republic continued to maintain that it could not within its own structures recognize the GDR de jure as a sovereign state under international law; while at the same time acknowledging that, within the structures of international law, the GDR was an independent sovereign state. By distinction, West Germany then viewed itself as being within its own boundaries, not only the de facto and de jure government, but also the sole de jure legitimate representative of a dormant Germany as a whole. The two Germanys relinquished any claim to represent the other internationally; which they acknowledged as necessarily implying a mutual recognition of each other as both capable of representing their own populations de jure in participating in international bodies and agreements, such as the United Nations and the Helsinki Final Act.

This assessment of the Basic Treaty was confirmed in a decision of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1973:

… the German Democratic Republic is in the international-law sense a State and as such a subject of international law. This finding is independent of recognition in international law of the German Democratic Republic by the Federal Republic of Germany. Such recognition has not only never been formally pronounced by the Federal Republic of Germany but on the contrary repeatedly explicitly rejected. If the conduct of the Federal Republic of Germany towards the German Democratic Republic is assessed in the light of its détente policy, in particular, the conclusion of the Treaty as de facto recognition, then it can only be understood as de facto recognition of a special kind. The special feature of this Treaty is that while it is a bilateral Treaty between two States, to which the rules of international law apply and which like any other international treaty possesses validity, it is between two States that are parts of a still existing, albeit incapable of action as not being reorganized, comprehensive State of the Whole of Germany with a single body politic.

The West German Constitution (Grundgesetz – Basic Law) provided two articles for the unification with other parts of Germany:

  • Article 23 provided the possibility for other parts of Germany to join the Federal Republic under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • Article 146 provided the possibility for the unification of all parts of Germany under a new constitution.

1974-1991

Finance Minister Helmut Schmidt (SPD) formed a coalition and he served as Chancellor from 1974 to 1982. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, a leading FDP official, became Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister. Schmidt, a strong supporter of the European Community (EC) and the Atlantic alliance, emphasized his commitment to the political unification of Europe in partnership with the USA.

In October 1982, the SPD–FDP coalition fell apart when the FDP joined forces with the CDU/CSU to elect CDU Chairman Helmut Kohl as Chancellor in a constructive vote of no confidence. Following national elections in March 1983, Kohl emerged in firm control of both the government and the CDU. The CDU/CSU fell just short of an absolute majority, due to the entry into the Bundestag of the Greens, who received 5.6% of the vote.

In January 1987, the Kohl–Genscher government was returned to office, but the FDP and the Greens gained at the expense of the larger parties. Kohl’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, slipped from 48.8% of the vote in 1983 to 44.3%. The SPD fell to 37%; long-time SPD Chairman Brandt subsequently resigned in April 1987 and was succeeded by Hans-Jochen Vogel. The FDP’s share rose from 7% to 9.1%, its best showing since 1980. The Greens’ share rose to 8.3% from their 1983 share of 5.6%.

Reunification

With the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989, symbolized by the opening of the Berlin Wall, there was a rapid move towards German reunification; and a final settlement of the post-war special status of Germany. Following democratic elections, East Germany declared its accession to the Federal Republic subject to the terms of the Unification Treaty between the two states; and then both West Germany and East Germany radically amended their respective constitutions in accordance with that Treaty’s provisions. East Germany then dissolved itself, and its five post-war states (Länder) were reconstituted, along with the reunited Berlin which ended its special status and formed an additional Land. The two German states entered into a currency and customs union in July 1990.

They formally joined the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990, raising the number of states from 10 to 16, ending the division of Germany. The expanded Federal Republic retained West Germany’s political culture and continued its existing memberships in international organizations, as well as its Western foreign policy alignment and affiliation to Western alliances like NATO and the European Union.

The official German reunification ceremony on 3 October 1990 was held at the Reichstag building, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, President Richard von Weizsäcker, former Chancellor Willy Brandt and many others. One day later, the parliament of united Germany would assemble in an act of symbolism in the Reichstag building.

However, at that time, the role of Berlin had not yet been decided upon. Only after a fierce debate, considered by many as one of the most memorable sessions of parliament, the Bundestag concluded on 20 June 1991, with quite a slim majority, that both government and parliament should move to Berlin from Bonn.

0Shares

Leave a Reply

HSOGMH – Largest Collection of Photos and Images of German History in the World with a focus on World War II.