East Germany (German Democratic Republic) - Countries - Office of the Historian
economic systems, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the West and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in thb East. By the same token, the Whilst such relations were vital to East Germany's international acceptance as a FRG ensured that many countries did not formally recognize the GDR during. cords to issues such as the status of Berlin and relations with the. FRG. These are two issue areas that directly affect the domestic stability of the GDR ; they.
The term generally refers to the events mostly in Eastern Europe that led up to the actual reunification; in its usual context, this term loosely translates to "the turning point", without any further meaning. When referring to the events surrounding reunification, however, it carries the cultural connotation of the time and the events in the GDR that brought about this "turnaround" in German history.
Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. September Further information: The capital city of Berlin was similarly divided into four sectors.
Between andthe three zones of the western allies were merged, forming the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlinaligned with capitalist Europe which later developed into the European Community.
Germans lived under such imposed divisions throughout the ensuing Cold War. Into the s, the Soviet Union experienced a period of economic and political stagnationand correspondingly decreased intervention in Eastern Bloc politics.
The wall had stood as an icon for the political and economic division between East and West, a division that Churchill had referred to as the " Iron Curtain ". In earlyunder a new era of Soviet policies of glasnost opennessperestroika economic restructuring and taken to even more progressive levels by Gorbachev, the Solidarity movement took hold in Poland. Further inspired by other images of brave defiancea wave of revolutions swept throughout the Eastern Bloc that year.
In MayHungary removed their border fence and thousands of East Germans escaped to the West — although even then, very many people inside and outside Germany still believed that a real reunification would never happen in the foreseeable future. Process of reunification[ edit ] Police officers of the East German Volkspolizei wait for the official opening of the Brandenburg Gate on 22 December Cooperation[ edit ] Berlin Wall, OctoberSaying "Thank You, Gorbi " On 28 November —two weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall —West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced a point program calling for the two Germanies to expand their cooperation with a view toward eventual reunification.
However, events rapidly came to a head in early Second, East Germany's economy and infrastructure underwent a swift and near-total collapse. While East Germany was long reckoned as having the most robust economy in the Soviet bloc, the removal of Communist hegemony revealed the ramshackle foundations of that system.
The East German mark had been almost worthless outside East Germany for some time before the events of —90, and the collapse of the East German economy further magnified the problem.
Economic merger[ edit ] Discussions immediately began on an emergency merger of the German economies. On 18 Maythe two German states signed a treaty agreeing on monetary, economic and social union. The Deutsche Mark had a very high reputation among the East Germans and was considered stable. This created a suitable framework for a political union by diminishing the huge gap between the two existing political, social, and economic systems.
In the wake of that resolution of accession, the "German reunification treaty",    commonly known in German as " Einigungsvertrag " Unification Treaty or " Wiedervereinigungsvertrag " Reunification Treatythat had been negotiated between the two German states since 2 Julywas signed by representatives of the two Governments on 31 August The amendments to the Federal Republic's Basic Law that were foreseen in the Unification Treaty or necessary for its implementation were adopted by the Federal Statute of 23 Septemberthat enacted the incorporation of the Treaty as part of the Law of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The said Federal Statute, containing the whole text of the Treaty and its Protocols as an annex, was published in the Bundesgesetzblatt the official journal for the publication of the laws of the Federal Republic on 28 September Under article 45 of the Treaty,  it entered into force according to international law on 29 Septemberupon the exchange of notices regarding the completion of the respective internal constitutional requirements for the adoption of the treaty in both East Germany and West Germany.
With that last step, and in accordance with article 1 of the Treaty, and in conformity with East Germany's Declaration of Accession presented to the Federal Republic, Germany was officially reunited at These states were the five original states of East Germany, but were abolished in in favour of a centralised system. As part of the 18 May treaty, the five East German states were reconstituted on 23 August. At the same time, East and West Berlin reunited into one city, which became a city-state along the lines of the existing city-states of Bremen and Hamburg.
Berlin was still formally under Allied occupation that would only be terminated later, as a result of the provisions of the Two Plus Four Treatybut the city's administrative merger and inclusion in the Federal Republic of Germany, effective on 3 Octoberhad been greenlighted by the Allies, and were formally approved in a meeting of the Allied Control Council on 2 October In an emotional ceremony, at the stroke of midnight on 3 Octoberthe black-red-gold flag of West Germany —now the flag of a reunited Germany—was raised above the Brandenburg Gate marking the moment of German reunification.The Berlin Wall (1961-1989)
Constitutional merger[ edit ] Fireworks at Brandenburg Gate after the reunification. The process chosen was one of two options implemented in the West German constitution Basic Law of to facilitate eventual reunification. The Basic Law stated that it was only intended for temporary use until a permanent constitution could be adopted by the German people as a whole. The initial eleven joining states of constituted the Trizone. West Berlin had been proposed as the 12th state, but was legally inhibited by Allied objections since Berlin as a whole was legally a quadripartite occupied area.
Despite this, West Berlin's political affiliation was with West Germany, and in many fields, it functioned de facto as if it were a component state of West Germany. The other option was Articlewhich provided a mechanism for a permanent constitution for a reunified Germany.
This route would have entailed a formal union between two German states that then would have had to, amongst other things, create a new constitution for the newly established country. However, by the spring ofit was apparent that drafting a new constitution would require protracted negotiations that would open up numerous issues in West Germany.
Even without this to consider, by the start of East Germany was in a state of utter collapse. In contrast, reunification under Article 23 could be implemented in as little as six months.
Ultimately, when the treaty on monetary, economic and social union was signed, it was decided to use the quicker process of Article By this process, East Germany voted to dissolve itself and to join West Germany as five new states, and the area in which the Basic Law was in force simply extended to include them. The five new states held their first elections on 14 October Nevertheless, although the Volkskammer's declaration of accession to the Federal Republic had initiated the process of reunification, the act of reunification itself with its many specific terms, conditions, and qualifications, some of which required amendments to the Basic Law itself was achieved constitutionally by the subsequent Unification Treaty of 31 August ; that is through a binding agreement between the former GDR and the Federal Republic now recognising each another as separate sovereign states in international law.
Hence, although the GDR declared its accession to the Federal Republic under Article 23 of the Basic Law, this did not imply its acceptance of the Basic Law as it then stood, but rather, of the Basic Law as subsequently amended in line with the Unification Treaty.
The reunification was not a merger that created a third state out of the two. Rather, West Germany effectively absorbed East Germany. Under this model, the Federal Republic of Germany, now enlarged to include the five states of the former German Democratic Republic plus the reunified Berlin, continued legally to exist under the same legal personality that was founded in May While the Basic Law was modified, rather than replaced by a constitution as such, it still permits the adoption of a formal constitution by the German people at some time in the future.
It also continued to be a party to all the treaties the old West Germany signed prior to the moment of reunification. The Basic Law and statutory laws that were in force in the Federal Republic, as amended in accordance with the Unification Treaty, continued automatically in force, but now applied to the expanded territory. Also, the same President, Chancellor Prime Minister and Government of the Federal Republic remained in office, but their jurisdiction now included the newly acquired territory of the former East Germany.
To facilitate this process and to reassure other countries, fundamental changes were made to the "Basic Law" constitution. The Preamble and Article were amended, and Article 23 was replaced, but the deleted former Article 23 was applied as the constitutional model to be used for the reunification.
But the GDR leadership was thwarted by the speed of negotiations, by the increasing weakness of the Soviet Union, and by the decision of the West Germans themselves to bypass the GDR, and deal directly with the Soviet Union. Wolfram Hanrieder has talked of the FRG as a penetrated state. This was even more true of the GDR.
Neither in its ideology, nor in its diplomacy, had the state any room for manoeuvre. It depended ultimately upon its ideological underpinnings, and its geo-strategic relationship with the Soviet Union. Change to the status quo was a threat, for the East Germans had virtually no cards to play to prevent change or to influence the fast moving developments in Soviet policy. Maier's account also implies that, in the end, it was, the policies of Gorbachev that destroyed East Germany.
Yet Gorbachev was himself a victim of the general disarray that had overtaken the Communist system. However, Dissolution is more than a diplomatic history from the perspective of the GDR.
Maier has been motivated by two themes which weave their way through the book. The first, in the language of the political scientist, is the agency-structure debate, in which Maier highlights the role of agency.
Or, to put it another way, he is fascinated by the way in which the people can shape their own history. He asserts that, 'the East Germans, when they came to act collectively, had a decisive impact on their own history' xiiibut that this was short-lived. He charts the extraordinary events of the escape from the GDR of an alienated people - by the time the Wall was opened, over had left ; the sieges of the embassies of neighbouring countries; the candlelit processions and prayer meetings; the growing divisions between those who wanted to change the GDR, those who wanted unification with the FRG, and those who simply wanted out.
Meanwhile, the political authorities tried, but failed, to ride the tiger. Maier writes movingly about the sense of 'peaceful compassion', of the bravery of the citizens who did not know how the authorities would react, the demand for an alternative public sphere, of mobilisation, of the debate about civil society.
But he concludes that this was all essentially oppositional - the force of the people n including the Communists - was quickly dissipated as organised parties recaptured the political arena from civic movements.
What was left after for the German people were the deeply perturbing civic consequences of unification, and the need to comes to terms with their past and to put the old regime on trial. Not only did Germans have to explore the legitimacy of what had happened in the East over the previous forty years, but had to do so amidst passionate discussion about the Third Reich. Maier, writing, as he says, as a comparative historian, argues that this comparison is not valid, and that it obscures the radically different regimes, and, indeed, that the comparisons with the Third Reich were sometimes used as a strategy for 'normalising' the Nazi regime.
This makes gripping reading, not only because he says that, whilst the universities were being cleansed of those tainted by contacts with the Stasi, or with a reputation for dismissing dissenting students, even those who were not politically tarnished but who 'did not seem worth retaining' were removed.
The Academy of Science, which had no West German equivalent, was decimated. It was a day of judgment for the politically compromised, the intellectually lazy, for the Mittelbau.
As Maier remarks, the changes to the university and research system were became a way of slashing expensive white-collar labour. This section is essential reading for those in open societies who nevertheless hope that academic endeavour will of itself sanctify donations from dubious sources; for those whose 'academic' work may involve contracted-out research that could compromise their independent academic judgement.
The speed at which these changes happened in the former GDR was terrifying, and this section is a reminder that, while the Stasi-culture was of course particular to the GDR, moral choices cannot simply be put to one side by academics in the quest for funds and research output. The second theme that runs through this book is an analysis of the economic environment of the GDR, of why the economics of the Eastern bloc had gone so badly wrong byand of the subsequent attempts at economic reconstruction.
Writing now as a comparative economic historian, he dates the beginning of the end to the s. What is particularly interesting here is that he does not deal with the GDR alone, but sets the GDR into the wider changes in the global economy, arguing that 'the Communist collapse came about as a reaction to forces for transformation that gripped West and East alike, but which Western Europeans and North Americans had responded to earlier and with less cataclysmic an upheaval.
In their divergent responses to the seismic pressures of the s lay the subsequent history of the s. Orthodoxy and conservatism, and continued concentration in the Eastern bloc upon what Maier calls the 'archaeology of coal and steel' 97prevented the modernisation that the Western world undertook in the aftermath of the economic crisis of the early s. The dissolution of the GDR thus followed on from the disabling difficulties that overtook the Communist planned system. Maier's assessment here is measured, but stark: The harsh pressures of relative backwardness brought down the Soviet system in the s and helped to liquidate the East German State that incorporated Russia's claim to have shared post leadership with the West.
The pressures encroaching on the capitalist world from the s to the s led to the end of full employment, an acceptance of increasing inequality, and increasing dissension over economic integration.
German reunification - Wikipedia
Through this prism, it would seem that the East Germans themselves were victims, first of the global economic pressures of the s, and then of the very economic orthodoxy that underpinned it. We should hear more from Maier on this theme. In the sections on economic collapse, he takes forward the debates about the role of large-scale economic change upon politics, and uses his expertise as an economic and comparative historian to best advantage.