Germany, East and West Germany

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Summary

Germany (; ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany (, ), is a federal parliamentary republic in western-central Europe consisting of 16 constituent states, which retain limited sovereignty. Its capital city and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With 80.6 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state in the European Union. Germany is a major economic and political power of the European continent and a historic leader in many cultural, theoretical and technical fields.

Details

After the surrender of Germany, the remaining German territory and Berlin were partitioned by the Allies into four military occupation zones. Together, these zones accepted more than 6.5 million of the ethnic Germans expelled from eastern areas. The western sectors, controlled by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, were merged on 23 May 1949 to form the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland); on 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone became the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR). They were informally known as "West Germany" and "East Germany". East Germany selected East Berlin as its capital, while West Germany chose Bonn as a provisional capital, to emphasise its stance that the two-state solution was an artificial and temporary status quo. The Federal Republic of Germany became a major recipient of reconstruction aid under the Marshall Plan.

West Germany, established as a federal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy", was allied with the United States, the UK and France. Konrad Adenauer was elected the first Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler) of Germany in 1949 and remained in office until 1963. Under his and Ludwig Erhard's leadership, the country enjoyed prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950s, that became famous as the "economic miracle" (). West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957.

East Germany was an Eastern Bloc state under political and military control by the USSR via the latter's occupation forces and the Warsaw Pact. Though East Germany claimed to be a democracy, political power was exercised solely by leading members (Politbüro) of the communist-controlled Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), supported by the Stasi, an immense secret service, and a variety of sub-organisations controlling every aspect of society. A Soviet-style command economy was set up; the GDR later became a Comecon state.

While East German propaganda was based on the benefits of the GDR's social programmes and the alleged constant threat of a West German invasion, many of its citizens looked to the West for freedom and prosperity. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War, hence its fall in 1989, following democratic reforms in Poland and Hungary, became a symbol of the Fall of Communism, German Reunification and Die Wende.

Tensions between East and West Germany were reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor Willy Brandt's . In summer 1989, Hungary decided to dismantle the Iron Curtain and open the borders, causing the emigration of tho

008000

usands of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary. This had devastating effects on the GDR, where regular mass demonstrations received increasing support. The East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West; originally intended to help retain East Germany as a state, the opening of the border actually led to an acceleration of the Wende reform process. This culminated in the Two Plus Four Treaty a year later on 12 September 1990, under which the four occupying powers renounced their rights under the Instrument of Surrender, and Germany regained full sovereignty. This permitted German reunification on 3 October 1990, with the accession of the five re-established states of the former GDR (new states or "neue Länder").

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External Links

  • WikipediaGermany profilewww.deutschland.deDeutsche WelleGermanyFacts about GermanyDestatis.de

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