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German reunification

German reunification

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German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic (GDR/East Germany) joined the Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 (FRG/West Germany), and when Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die Wende
Die Wende
marks the complete process of the change from socialism and planned economy to market economy and capitalism in East Germany around the years 1989 and 1990. It encompasses several processes and events which later have become synonymous with the overall process...

 (The Turning Point). The end of the unification process is officially referred to as German unity , celebrated on 3 October (German Unity Day
German Unity Day
The Day of German Unity is the national day of Germany, celebrated on 3 October as a public holiday. It commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990, when the goal of a unity of Germany that originated in the middle of the 19th century, was fulfilled. Therefore, the name addresses...

).

The East German regime started to falter in May 1989, when the removal of Hungary's border fence
Removal of Hungary's border fence
The removal of Hungary's border fence with Austria in May 1989 was a historic event during the Cold War, directly prior to the revolutionary wave known as the "Autumn of Nations".-History:...

 opened a hole in the Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

. It caused an exodus of thousands of East Germans fleeing to West Germany and Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 via Hungary. The Peaceful Revolution, a series of protests by East Germans, led to the GDR's first free elections
East German general election, 1990
Legislative elections were held in the German Democratic Republic on 18 March 1990. It was the first—and as it turned out, only—free parliamentary election in East Germany, and the first truly free election held in that part of Germany since 1933...

 on 18 March 1990, and to the negotiations between the GDR and FRG that culminated in a Unification Treaty, whilst negotiations between the GDR and FRG and the four occupying powers produced the so-called "Two Plus Four Treaty" (Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic , and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the...

) granting full sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 to a unified German state, whose two halves had previously still been bound by a number of limitations stemming from their post-WWII status as occupied regions. The united Germany remained a member of the European Community (later the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

) and of NATO.

Naming


There is debate as to whether the events of 1990 should be properly referred to as a "reunification" or a "unification". Proponents of the former use the term in contrast with the initial unification
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

 of Germany in 1871. Also when the Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

 joined the West German Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 on 1 January 1957, this was termed the Small Reunification. Popular parlance, which uses "reunification", is deeply affected by the 1989 opening of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 (and the rest of the inner German border) and the physical reunification of the city of Berlin (itself divided only since 1945). Others, however, argue that 1990 represented a "unification" of two German states into a larger entity which, in its resulting form, had never before existed (see History of Germany
History of Germany
The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul , which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the...

).

For political and diplomatic reasons, West German politicians carefully avoided the term "reunification" during the run-up to what Germans frequently refer to as die Wende. The official and most common term in German is "Deutsche Einheit" (in English "German unity"). German unity is the term that Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Hans-Dietrich Genscher is a German politician of the liberal Free Democratic Party . He served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany from 1974 to 1982 and, after a two-week pause, from 1982 to 1992, making him Germany's longest serving Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor...

 used in front of international journalists to correct them when they asked him about "reunification" in 1990.

After 1990, the term "die Wende" became more common. 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 unification, however, it carries the cultural connotation of the time and the events in the GDR that brought about this "turnaround" in German history. However, civil rights activists from Eastern Germany rejected the term Wende as it was introduced by SED's Secretary General Egon Krenz
Egon Krenz
Egon Krenz is a former politician from East Germany , and that country's last Communist leader...

.

Precursors to reunification


In 1945, the Third Reich ended in defeat and Germany was divided into two separate countries, with the east controlled as part of the Communist Soviet Bloc and the west aligned to Capitalist Europe (which formed into the European Community), including a division in military alliance that formed into the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 and NATO, respectively. The capital city of Berlin was divided into four occupied sectors of control, under the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and France
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

. Germans lived under such imposed divisions throughout the ensuing Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

Into the 1980s, the Soviet Union experienced a period of economic and political stagnation
Brezhnev stagnation
The Era of Stagnation, also known as Brezhnev stagnation or the Stagnation Period, refers to a period of economic stagnation under the rules of Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko in the history of the Soviet Union which started in the mid-1970s.-Terminology:Various authors...

, and they correspondingly decreased intervention in Eastern Bloc politics
Eastern Bloc politics
Eastern Bloc politics followed the Red Army's occupation of much of eastern Europe at the end of World War II and the Soviet Union's installation of Soviet-controlled communist governments in the Eastern Bloc through a process of bloc politics and repression...

. In 1987, US President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 gave a speech at Brandenburg Gate challenging Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 to "tear down this wall" that had separated Berlin. The wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 had stood as an icon for the political and economic division between East and West, a division that Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 had referred to as the "Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

". In early 1989, under a new era of Soviet policies of glasnost
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

(openness), perestroika
Perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

(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 defiance
Tank Man
Tank Man, or the Unknown Rebel, is the nickname of an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protestors from in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man achieved widespread international...

, a wave of revolutions
Revolutions of 1989
The Revolutions of 1989 were the revolutions which overthrew the communist regimes in various Central and Eastern European countries.The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and...

 swept throughout the Eastern Bloc that year. In May 1989, Hungary removed their border fence
Removal of Hungary's border fence
The removal of Hungary's border fence with Austria in May 1989 was a historic event during the Cold War, directly prior to the revolutionary wave known as the "Autumn of Nations".-History:...

 and thousands of East Germans escaped to the West. The turning point in Germany, called "Die Wende
Die Wende
marks the complete process of the change from socialism and planned economy to market economy and capitalism in East Germany around the years 1989 and 1990. It encompasses several processes and events which later have become synonymous with the overall process...

", was marked by the "Peaceful Revolution" leading to the removal of the Berlin Wall with East and West Germany subsequently entering into negotiations toward eliminating the division that had been imposed upon Germans more than four decades earlier.

Process of reunification


On 28 November 1989--two weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall--West German Chancellor
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

 Helmut Kohl
Helmut Kohl
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl is a German conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 and the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union from 1973 to 1998...

 announced a 10-point program calling for the two Germanies to expand their cooperation with the view toward eventual reunification.

Initially, no timetable was proposed. However, events rapidly came to a head in early 1990. First, in March, the Party of Democratic Socialism--the former Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

--was heavily defeated in East Germany's first honest elections
East German general election, 1990
Legislative elections were held in the German Democratic Republic on 18 March 1990. It was the first—and as it turned out, only—free parliamentary election in East Germany, and the first truly free election held in that part of Germany since 1933...

. A grand coalition was formed under Lothar de Maizière
Lothar de Maizière
Lothar de Maizière is a German christian democratic politician. In 1990, he served as the only democratically elected Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic, and as such was the last leader of an independent East Germany....

, leader of the East German wing of Kohl's Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

, on a platform of speedy reunification. Second, East Germany's economy and infrastructure underwent a swift and near-total collapse. While East Germany had long been reckoned as having the most robust economy in the Soviet bloc, the removal of Communist discipline revealed the ramshackle foundations of that system. The East German mark
East German mark
The East German mark commonly called the eastern mark , in East Germany only Mark, was the currency of the German Democratic Republic . Its ISO 4217 currency code was DDM...

 had been practically worthless outside of East Germany for some time before the events of 1989-90, further magnifying the problem.

Discussions immediately began for an emergency merger of the Germanies' economies. On 18 May 1990, the two German states signed a treaty agreeing on monetary, economic and social union. This came into force on 1 July 1990, with the Deutsche Mark replacing the East German mark
East German mark
The East German mark commonly called the eastern mark , in East Germany only Mark, was the currency of the German Democratic Republic . Its ISO 4217 currency code was DDM...

 as the official currency of East Germany. The Deutsche Mark had a very high reputation among the East Germans and was considered stable. While the GDR transferred its financial policy sovereignty to West Germany, the West started granting subsidies for the GDR budget and social security system. At the same time many West German laws came into force in the GDR. This created a suitable framework for a political union by diminishing the huge gap between the two existing political, social, and economic systems.

A reunification treaty between West Germany and the GDR was negotiated in mid-1990, signed on 31 August of that year and finally approved by large majorities in the legislative chambers of both countries on 20 September 1990. After that last step Germany was officially united at 00:00 CET
Central European Time
Central European Time , used in most parts of the European Union, is a standard time that is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time . The time offset from UTC can be written as +01:00...

 on 3 October 1990. East Germany joined the Federal Republic as the five states of Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

, Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt is a landlocked state of Germany. Its capital is Magdeburg and it is surrounded by the German states of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of...

 and Thuringia
Thuringia
The Free State of Thuringia is a state of Germany, located in the central part of the country.It has an area of and 2.29 million inhabitants, making it the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states....

. These states had been the five original states of East Germany, but had been abolished in 1952 in favour of a centralised system. As part of the 18 May treaty, the five East German states had been reconstituted on 23 August. At the same time, East
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

 and West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 reunited into one city, which became a city-state along the lines of the existing city-states of Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 and Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

.

The process chosen was one of two options implemented in the West German constitution (Basic Law
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

) of 1949. Via that document's (then-existing) Article 23, any new Länder (German federative states)
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

, could adhere to the Basic Law by a simple majority vote. Thus the states' parliaments would vote in for their adhesion. The initial eleven joining states of 1949 comprised the Trizone and West Berlin. However the latter was legally inhibited by Allied objection due to the status of the city as a quadripartite allied occupation area. In 1957 the Saar Protectorate
Saar (protectorate)
The Saar Protectorate was a German borderland territory twice temporarily made a protectorate state. Since rejoining Germany the second time in 1957, it is the smallest Federal German Area State , the Saarland, not counting the city-states Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen...

 joined West Germany under the Article 23 procedure as Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

. As the five refounded eastern German states formally joined the Federal Republic using the Article 23 procedure, the area in which the Basic Law was in force simply extended to include them. The alternative would have been for East Germany to join as a whole along the lines of 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.

Under the model that was chosen, however, the territory of the former German Democratic Republic was simply incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany, and accordingly the Federal Republic of Germany, now enlarged to include the Eastern States, continued legally to exist under the same legal personality that was founded in May 1949.

Thus, the reunification was not a merger that created a third state out of the two, but an incorporation, by which West Germany absorbed East Germany. Thus, on Unification Day, October 3, 1990, the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist, giving way to five new Federal States, and East and West Berlin were also unified as a single city-state, forming a sixth new Federal State. The new Federal States immediately became parts of the Federal Republic of Germany, so that it was enlarged to include the whole territory of the former East Germany and Berlin.

The practical result of that model is that the now expanded Federal Republic of Germany continued to be a party to all the treaties it had signed prior to the moment of reunification, and thus continued the same membership of the U.N., NATO, the European Communities, etc.; also, the same Basic Law and the same laws that were in force in the Federal Republic continued automatically in force, but now applied to the expanded territory.

To facilitate this process and to reassure other countries, some changes were made to the "Basic Law" (constitution). Article 146 was amended so that Article 23 of the current constitution could be used for reunification. After the five "New Länder" of East Germany had joined, the constitution was amended again to indicate that all parts of Germany are now unified. Article 23 was rewritten and it can still be understood as an invitation to others (e.g. Austria) to join, although the main idea of the change was to calm fears in (for example) Poland, that Germany would later try to rejoin with former eastern territories of Germany that were now Polish or parts of other countries in the East. The changes effectively formalised the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

 as Germany's permanent eastern border. These amendments to the Basic Law were mandated by Article I, section 4 of the Two Plus Four Treaty
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic , and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the...

.

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.

To commemorate the day that marks the official unification of the former East and West Germany in 1990, 3 October has since then been the official German national holiday, the Day of German Unity
German Unity Day
The Day of German Unity is the national day of Germany, celebrated on 3 October as a public holiday. It commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990, when the goal of a unity of Germany that originated in the middle of the 19th century, was fulfilled. Therefore, the name addresses...

 (Tag der deutschen Einheit). It replaced the previous national holiday held in West Germany on 17 June commemorating the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany
Uprising of 1953 in East Germany
The Uprising of 1953 in East Germany started with a strike by East Berlin construction workers on June 16. It turned into a widespread anti-Stalinist uprising against the German Democratic Republic government the next day....

 and the national holiday on 7 October in the GDR.

Foreign opposition


For decades, Germany's allies had stated their support for reunification; Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir
' is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.-Biography:Icchak Jeziernicky was born in Ruzhany , Russian Empire . He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement...

, who speculated that a country that "decided to kill millions of Jewish people" in the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 "will try to do it again", was one of the few world leaders to publicly oppose it. As reunification became a realistic possibility, however, significant NATO and European opposition emerged in private.

Britain and France


Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 told Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 that neither the United Kingdom nor Western Europe wanted the reunification of Germany. Thatcher also clarified that she wanted the Soviet leader to do what he could to stop it, telling Gorbachev "We do not want a united Germany". Although she welcomed East German democracy, Thatcher worried that a rapid reunification might weaken Gorbachev, and favoured Soviet troops staying in East Germany as long as possible to act as a counterweight to a united Germany.

Thatcher, who carried in her handbag a map of Germany's 1937 borders to show others the "German problem", feared that its "national character
Culture of Germany
German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German-speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular...

", size, and central location in Europe would cause the nation to be a "destabilizing rather than a stabilizing force in Europe". In December 1989, she warned fellow European Community leaders at a Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 summit Kohl attended, "We defeated the Germans twice! And now they're back!" Although Thatcher had stated her support for German self-determination
Self-determination
Self-determination is the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or external interference...

 in 1985, she now argued that Germany's allies had only supported reunification because they had not believed it would ever happen. Thatcher favoured a transition period of five years for reunification, during which the two Germanys would remain separate states. Although she gradually softened her opposition, as late as March 1990 Thatcher summoned historians and diplomats to a seminar at Chequers
Chequers
Chequers, or Chequers Court, is a country house near Ellesborough, to the south of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, England, at the foot of the Chiltern Hills...

to ask "How dangerous are the Germans?" and the French ambassador in London reported that Thatcher had told him, "France and Great Britain should pull together today in the face of the German threat."

Similarly, a representative of French President François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

 reportedly told an aide to Gorbachev, "France by no means wants German reunification, although it realises that in the end it is inevitable." At the Strasbourg summit, Mitterrand and Thatcher discussed the fluidity of Germany's historical borders. On 20 January 1990, Mitterrand told Thatcher that a unified Germany could "make more ground than even Hitler had". He predicted that "bad" Germans would reemerge, who might seek to regain former German territory lost after World War II and would likely dominate Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, leaving "only Romania and Bulgaria for the rest of us". The two leaders saw no way to prevent reunification, however, as "None of us was going to declare war on Germany". Mitterrand recognized before Thatcher that reunification was inevitable and adjusted his views accordingly; unlike her, he was hopeful that participation in a single currency and other European institutions could control a united Germany. Mitterrand still wanted Thatcher to publicly oppose unification, however, to obtain more concessions from Germany.

The rest of Europe


Other European leaders' opinion of reunification was "icy". Italy's Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti is an Italian politician of the now dissolved centrist Christian Democracy party. He served as the 42nd Prime Minister of Italy from 1972 to 1973, from 1976 to 1979 and from 1989 to 1992. He also served as Minister of the Interior , Defense Minister and Foreign Minister and he...

 warned against a revival of "pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify the German-speaking populations of Europe in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland , where "German-speaking" was taken to include the Low German, Frisian and Dutch-speaking populations of the Low...

", and the Netherlands' Ruud Lubbers
Ruud Lubbers
Rudolphus Franciscus Marie "Ruud" Lubbers is a retired Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal . He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from November 4, 1982 until August 22, 1994....

 questioned the German right to self-determination. They shared Britain and France's concerns over a return to German militarism and the economic power of a reunified nation. The consensus opinion was that reunification, if it must occur, should not occur until at least 1995 and preferably much later.

The four powers



The victors of World War II—the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France, comprising the Four-Power Authorities
Four-Power Authorities
Following the defeat of Nazi Germany and then the partition of German territory, two Four-Power Authorities, in which the four main victor nations , were created....

—retained authority over Berlin, such as control over air travel and its political status. The Soviet Union sought early to use reunification as a way to push Germany out of NATO into neutrality, removing nuclear weapons from its territory. West Germany interpreted a 21 November 1989 diplomatic message on the topic, however, as meaning that only two weeks after the Wall's collapse the Soviet leadership already anticipated reunification. This belief, and the worry that his rival Genscher might act first, encouraged Kohl on November 28 to announce a detailed reunification plan (10-Point Plan). While his speech was very popular within West Germany Kohl's speech caused concern among other European governments, with whom he had not discussed the plan.

The Americans did not share the Europeans' and Russians' historical fears over German expansionism, but wished to ensure that Germany would stay within NATO. In December 1989, the administration of President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 made a united Germany's continued NATO membership a requirement for supporting reunification. Kohl agreed, although less than 20% of West Germans supported remaining within NATO; he also wished to avoid a neutral Germany, as he believed that would destroy NATO, cause the United States and Canada to leave Europe, and Britain and France would form an alliance. The United States increased its support of Kohl's policies, as it feared that otherwise Oskar Lafontaine
Oskar Lafontaine
Oskar Lafontaine is a German politician, former German finance minister, former chairman of the Social Democratic Party and former Minister-President of the state of Saarland. Since 2007 he was co-chairman of The Left...

, a critic of NATO, might become Chancellor.


Horst Teltschik, Kohl's foreign policy advisor, later recalled that Germany would have paid "100 billion deutschmarks" had the Soviets demanded it. The USSR did not make such great demands, however, with Gorbachev stating in February 1990 that "The Germans must decide for themselves what path they choose to follow". In May 1990 he repeated his remark in the context of NATO membership while meeting Bush, amazing both the Americans and Germans.

Conclusion


During a NATO-Warsaw Pact conference in Ottawa, Canada, Genscher persuaded the four powers to treat the two Germanys as equals instead of defeated junior partners, and for the six nations to negotiate alone. Although the Dutch, Italians, Spanish, and other NATO powers opposed such a structure, which meant that the alliance's boundaries would change without their participation, the six nations began negotiations in March 1990. After Gorbachev's May agreement on German NATO membership, the Soviets further agreed that Germany would be treated as an ordinary NATO country, with the exception that former East German territory would not have foreign NATO troops or nuclear weapons. In exchange, Kohl agreed to reduce the sizes of both Germanys' militaries, renounce weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

, and accept the postwar Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

 as Germany's eastern border. In addition, Germany agreed to pay about 55 billion deutschmarks to the Soviet Union in gifts and loans, the equivalent of eight days of the West German GDP
Economy of Germany
Germany is the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth-largest by nominal GDP in the world, and fifth by GDP in 2008. Since the age of industrialisation, the country has been a driver, innovator, and beneficiary of an ever more globalised economy...

.

Mitterrand agreed to reunification in exchange for a commitment from Kohl to the European Economic and Monetary Union. The British insisted to the end, against Soviet opposition, that NATO be allowed to hold maneuvers in the former East Germany. After the Americans intervened, both the UK and France ratified the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic , and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the...

 in September 1990, thus finalizing the reunification for purposes of international law. Thatcher later wrote that her opposition to reunification had been an "unambiguous failure".

Aftermath


On 14 November 1990, the united Germany and Poland signed the German–Polish Border Treaty, finalizing Germany's boundaries as permanent along the Oder-Neisse line, and thus, renouncing any claims to Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

, East Brandenburg, Farther Pomerania
Farther Pomerania
Farther Pomerania, Further Pomerania, Transpomerania or Eastern Pomerania , which before the German-Polish border shift of 1945 comprised the eastern part of the Duchy, later Province of Pomerania, roughly stretching from the Oder River in the West to Pomerelia in the East...

, and territories of the former province of East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

. The treaty also granted certain rights for political minorities on either side of the border. The following month, the first all-German free elections since 1932 were held, resulting in an increased majority for the coalition government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl
Helmut Kohl
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl is a German conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 and the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union from 1973 to 1998...

.

On 15 March 1991, the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany entered into force, putting an end to the remaining limitations on German sovereignty that resulted from the post WWII arrangements.

Inner reunification



Vast differences between the former East Germany and West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 (for example, in lifestyle, wealth, political beliefs and other matters) remain, and it is therefore still common to speak of eastern and western Germany distinctly. The eastern German economy has struggled since unification, and large subsidies are still transferred from west to east. The former East Germany area has often been compared to the underdeveloped Southern Italy and the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 during Reconstruction after the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. While the East German economy has recovered recently, the differences between East and West remain constant.
Politicians and scholars have frequently called for a process of "inner reunification" of the two countries and asked whether there is "inner unification or continued separation". "The process of German unity has not ended yet", proclaimed Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

, who grew up in East Germany, in 2009. Nevertheless, the question of this "inner reunification" has been widely discussed in the German public, politically, economically, culturally, and also constitutionally since 1989.

Politically, since the fall of the Wall, the successor party of the former East German socialist state party
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 has become a major force in German politics. It was renamed PDS, and, later, merged with the Western leftist party WASG to form the party Die Linke (The Left).

Constitutionally, the Basic Law (Grundgesetz), the West German constitution, provided two pathways for a unification, the first including an implementation of the constitution in the East, the second the implementation of a new all-German constitution, safeguarded by a popular referendum. While the former option was chosen as the most feasible one, the latter option was partly regarded as a means to foster the "inner reunification".

A public manifestation of coming to terms with the past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung
Vergangenheitsbewältigung
Vergangenheitsbewältigung is a composite German word that describes processes of dealing with the past , which is perhaps best rendered in English as "struggle to come to terms with the past"...

) is the existence of the so-called Birthler
Marianne Birthler
Marianne Birthler is a German human rights advocate and politician of the Alliance '90/The Greens...

-Behörde, the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives, which collects and maintains the files of the East German security apparatus.

The economic reconstruction of former Eastern Germany following the reunification required large amounts of public funding which turned some areas into boom regions, although overall unemployment remains higher than in the former West. Reunification did, however, lead to a large rise in the average standard of living in former Eastern Germany. Between 1990 and 1995, gross wages in the east rose from 35% to 74% of western levels, while pensions rose from 40% to 79%.

In terms of media usage and reception, the country remains partially divided especially among the older generations. Mentality gaps between East and West persist, but so does sympathy. Additionally, the daily-life exchange of Easterners and Westerners is not so large as expected. Young people's knowledge of the former East Germany is very low. Some people in Eastern Germany engage in "Ostalgia", which is a certain nostalgia for the time before the wall came down.

Today, there are several prominent East Germans shaping the image of Germany at home and abroad, including Kurt Masur
Kurt Masur
Kurt Masur is a German conductor, particularly noted for his interpretation of German Romantic music.- Biography :Masur was born in Brieg, Lower Silesia, Germany and studied piano, composition and conducting in Leipzig, Saxony. Masur has been married three times...

, Michael Ballack
Michael Ballack
Michael Ballack is a German professional footballer, who is currently playing for Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen. He is among the top goal scorers in the history of his international team. Ballack has worn the number 13 shirt for every team he has played for except for Kaiserslautern...

, Katarina Witt
Katarina Witt
Katarina Witt is a German figure skater and model. In Germany she was commonly called "Kati" in the past, but today her full name is used more often....

, and Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

.

See also

  • History of Germany since 1945
    History of Germany since 1945
    As a consequence of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II Germany was split between the two global blocs in the East and West, a period known as the division of Germany. While seven million prisoners and forced laborers left Germany, over 10 million German speaking refugees arrived there from...

  • Reunification
  • Stalin Note
    Stalin Note
    The Stalin Note, also known as the March Note, was a document delivered to the representatives of the Western allied powers from the Soviet Occupation in Germany on March 10, 1952...

     – 1952 German reunification proposal
  • Transitology
    Transitology
    In political science, international and comparative law and economics, transitology is the name for the study of the process of change from one political regime to another, mainly from authoritarian regimes to democratic ones....

  • Goodbye Lenin!

Further reading

  • Charles S. Maier
    Charles S. Maier
    Charles S. Maier is the Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University. He teaches European and international history at Harvard. Maier has also served as the director of the Center for European Studies at Harvard.Maier has written several books...

    , Dissolution: The Crisis of Communism and the End of East Germany (Princeton University Press, 1997).
  • Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice
    Condoleezza Rice
    Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

    , Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (Harvard University Press, 1995 & 1997).

Primary sources

  • Jarausch, Konrad H., and Volker Gransow, eds. Uniting Germany: Documents and Debates, 1944-1993 (1994), primary sources in English translation

External links