UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Oct 3

3 October 1990

Reunification of Germany


What happened?

On 3 October 1990, West Germany and East Germany reunited to form a united Germany since the country was split after its defeat in the Second World War.

Background

  • Nazi Germany was defeated in the Second World War in 1945.
  • After the defeat, Germany’s territorial gains in the war were taken away and the country was divided into four military occupation zones (by the Four Powers). The country was occupied by France in the southwest, USA in the south, the Soviet Union in the east and Britain in the northwest.
  • During this time, the Cold War between the superpowers USA and the Soviet Union ensured that Germans had no say in the government and the country was divided into eastern and western blocs with the Soviets controlling the east and the Allies controlling the west.
  • In 1949, two states emerged out of this: West Germany, officially called the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
  • FRG was a parliamentary democracy with a capitalist economy while GDR was a communist republic with a socialist economy.
  • West Germany’s capital was declared Bonn. East Germany had Berlin as its capital. Although Berlin was geographically within East Germany, the city itself was divided into West and East Berlin. West Berlin had a government that was allied with West Germany although it was 176 km inside East Germany territory.
  • In 1952, the borders to West Germany were sealed by East German authorities. But still, people were continuously fleeing East Berlin to its western side. To counter its people from moving to West Berlin, East Germany started building a wall on 13 August 1961. This wall cut right through the heart of Berlin and came to be called the Berlin Wall.
  • West Germany progressed rapidly through the decades but East Germany lagged in its development, primarily because its economy functioned to meet the needs of the Soviet Union. Both states joined the UN in September 1973.
  • Relations between the two German states gradually improved in the 70s.
  • Although plans was a German unification were made early after the establishment of the two states, nothing came out of it.
  • In 1989, changes in East Germany led to the reunification of the country. People were suppressed under the communist regime in the East and they were steady migrations to the western side. Many East Germans immigrated to West Germany via Hungary after the Hungarian government decided not to stop the people by force.
  • There were also allegations of a local election being rigged in East Germany in 1989.
  • The mass exodus of people into the west led to growing demands of political change in the East. There were many demonstrations as well by hundreds of thousands of people in many cities.
  • On 4 November 1989, there was a demonstration in East Berlin in which almost 1 million East Germans participated. Five days later, the Berlin Wall opened and people began to travel freely into West Berlin. On 12 November, East Germany started dismantling the Berlin Wall.
  • The government in the East resigned and there was an emergence of numerous political parties there which led to the end of the communist regime. Free elections were decided to be held and a plan was drafted to rewrite the East German constitution.
  • On 18 March, 1990, East Germany saw its first free elections. On 1 July, the two German states united economically and monetarily.
  • The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany was signed on 12 September between the two German States, the Soviet Union, USA, France and Great Britain. As per this agreement, the Four Powers renounced all rights they had held in Germany since the War and allowed for a united Germany to be completely sovereign.
  • East Germany acceded to West Germany and the two states were politically united on 3 October 1990. This new country had the same political and legal systems as the old West Germany.
  • All-German elections were conducted in December 1990, in which Helmut Kohl was elected Chancellor. Kohl played a huge role in the reunification of Germany.

 

Also on This Day 

1932: Iraq obtained its independence from the United Kingdom. 1957: The Republican Party of India was established. 1978: World’s second and India’s first test tube baby Durga Agrawal was born. 1992: Geet Sethi became the first Indian to win the World Professional Billiards Championship.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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