Monday, 27 May 2013

West and East Germany

After 1945, Germany was divided by allied occupation, and evolved into two states, East Germany and West Germany.

The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided "Occupation Zone Germany" into four military occupation zones:
  • the French Zone of Occupation in the southwest, 
  • the British Zone of Occupation in the northwest, 
  • the American Zone of Occupation in the south, and 
  • the Soviet Zone of Occupation in the east.

The city of Berlin was jointly occupied by the Allied powers and subdivided into four sectors. The city of Berlin was not considered to be part of the Soviet zone.

The term  Wirtschaftswunder (German for "economic miracle") describes the rapid reconstruction and development of the economies of West Germany after World War II. 

Between 1949 and 1960, the West German economy grew at an unparalleled rate. Low rates of inflation, modest wage increases and a quickly rising export quota made it possible to restore the economy and brought a modest prosperity. According to the official statistics the German Gross National Product grew in average by about 6% annually between 1950 and 1960.

GNP Growth 1950–1960
+ 10.5
+ 8.3
+ 7.5
+ 7.4
+ 6.9
+ 5.4
+ 6.7

The German reunification
After World War II, Germany was divided into 4 occupation zones. 
In 1949 the French, British and American zones were made joined into the Federal Republic of Germany, also known as "West Germany", while the Soviet zone was made into a separate state known as the German Democratic Republic, or "East Germany".

During the cold war, West Germany was a democratic country, was allied with the United States of America and had a capitalist economic system. East Germany was a communist country and was controlled by the Soviet Union.

After West Germany's economy began to grow faster and faster in the 1950s, while East Germany's economy was not doing so well, many people moved from East to West Germany. 

To stop this emigration, the border between East and West Germany was closed in 1961 by East German forces. This border was part of the Iron Curtain. Between 1961 and 1989, leaving East Germany was very hard and extremely dangerous. Officially leaving East Germany took years to be approved, and people who applied were often spied on by East German police. Many people who tried to flee over the border were shot and killed there.

In May 1989, Hungary removed their border fence and thousands of East Germans escaped to the West. 

The East German regime started to falter in May 1989, when the removal of Hungary's border fence opened a hole in the Iron Curtain. It caused an exodus of thousands of East Germans fleeing to West Germany and Austria via Hungary. 

The turning point in Germany, called "Die Wende", 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.

The German reunification was on October 3, 1990, when East Germany again became a part of the Federal Republic of Germany.