West and East Germany, 1949 and 1991

West and East Germany, 1949 and 1991

The Formation of West and East Germany (1949)

Division of Germany

  • Post-WWII, Germany was divided by the victorious Allies into four zones. Britain, France, USA, and USSR each occupied a zone.
  • Berlin was split into East and West, despite being positioned within the Soviet zone.
  • In 1949, Britain, France, and USA merged their zones to form West Germany or the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • Similarly, USSR transformed its zone into East Germany or the German Democratic Republic.

Political Systems

  • West Germany was formed as a federal parliamentary republic with a capitalistic economy, following the Bonn Constitution or Basic Law.
  • East Germany was established as a socialist republic, with an economy run by the state.
  • Both parts of Germany were allowed to have their own separate political and economic systems.

Life in Both Parts

  • West Germany saw economic boom or Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle), leading to improved living standards.
  • East Germany, controlled by USSR, experienced economic inefficiency and oppression, spurring mass emigration to West.

Reunification of Germany (1990-1991)

Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)

  • The pro-democracy movement led to the opening of the Berlin Wall: a significant event symbolising the end of the Cold War.
  • This pivotal moment marked the beginning of German reunification.

Collapse of East Germany’s economy

  • Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany’s economy collapsed leading to mass demonstrations against the Communist Party.
  • The Volkskammer (East German Parliament) voted for reunification.

Reunification Process

  • On 3rd October 1990, East Germany formally joined West Germany, thereby unifying the whole country.
  • The reunification of Germany transformed the political landscape of Europe, ending the division of East and West.

Understanding this period of German history requires comprehension of the political, societal, and economic impacts stemming from the division and reunification of the country. Ensure you cover these aspects during your revision.