West Germany

West Germany

Infobox Former Country
_noautocat = yes
native_name = _de. "Bundesrepublik Deutschland"
conventional_long_name = Federal Republic of Germany
national_motto = _de. "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" "Unity and Justice and Freedom"
national_anthem = _de. "Das Lied der Deutschen"
"The Song of the Germans"
common_name = West Germany
region = Germany
country = Germany
status = Federation
era=Cold War
year_start = 1949
year_end = 1990
date_start = May 23
p1 = Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
flag_p1 =Flag of Germany (1946-1949).svg
p2 = Saar (protectorate)
flag_p2 =Flag of Saar.svg
s1 = Germany
flag_s1=Flag of Germany.svg

common_languages = German
capital = Bonn
latd=50 |latm=44 |latNS=N |longd=7 |longm=6 |longEW=E
largest_city = Hamburg
government_type = Federal republic
leader1 = Theodor Heuss
year_leader1 = 1949–1959
leader2 = Heinrich Lübke
year_leader2 = 1959–1969
leader3 = Gustav Heinemann
year_leader3 = 1969–1974
leader4 = Walter Scheel
year_leader4 = 1974–1979
leader5 = Karl Carstens
year_leader5 = 1979–1984
leader6 =Richard von Weizsäcker
year_leader6 = 1984–1994
title_deputy = Chancellor
deputy1 = Konrad Adenauer
year_deputy1 = 1949–1963
deputy2 = Ludwig Erhard
year_deputy2 = 1963–1966
deputy3 = Kurt Georg Kiesinger
year_deputy3 = 1966–1969
deputy4 = Willy Brandt
year_deputy4 = 1969–1974
deputy5 = Helmut Schmidt
year_deputy5 = 1974–1982
deputy6 = Helmut Kohl
year_deputy6 = 1982–1998
stat_pop1 = 63254000 Fact|date=September 2007
stat_year1 = 1990
GDP_PPP_year = 1990
GDP = $946 billion
GDP_rank = 4th
event_start =Established
event_end =Reunification 1990
currency = German mark
currency_code = DEM
time_zone = CET
utc_offset = +1
time_zone_DST = CEST
utc_offset_DST = +2
cctld = .de
calling_code = 49
states = 10

West Germany (Inf. German: "Westdeutschland" or "West-Deutschland") was the common English name for the Federal Republic of Germany (German: "Bundesrepublik Deutschland"), from its formation in May 1949 to German reunification in October 1990, when East Germany was dissolved and its states became part of the Federal Republic, ending the more than 40-year division of Germany. From 1990 onwards, the Federal Republic of Germany has been simply known as Germany.

The West German Republic was formed from the three Allied Zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Bonn was selected as its capital city, in preference to the enclave of West Berlin, which was technically not part of the Federal Republic, although often treated as such.

At the onset of the Cold War following Germany's defeat in World War II, Germany was divided into two states, along with two special territories (the Saarland and Berlin). The Federal Republic claimed an exclusive mandate for all of Germany, considering itself to be the democratically re-organized German Reich on the grounds that the East German government was not democratically elected and thus not a legitimate one. After a popular vote, the Saarland also joined West Germany as a state (Bundesland) in 1957. West Berlin, although legally not a part of West Germany (from the point of view of foreign governments like the USSR), was closely aligned with it, and West Berlin was fully represented in the West German government. (For example, the German Chancellor Willy Brandt was a West Berliner.)

Relations with the Soviet bloc improved during the era of Ostpolitik, and the two German states recognized the existence of each other. De jure wise West Germany formally maintained the exclusive mandate: it recognized East Germany as a de facto government still within a single German nation that in turn is represented de jure wise by the West German state only, while East Germany recognized the existence of two German nations and states de jure, and the West as both de facto and de jure foreign nation. Many foreign countries tend to take either the East German position of the existence of two German nations, or an intermediate position of one single German nation with two states, of which neither West nor East Germany alone possesses exclusive mandates.

When communism collapsed in East Germany and the wider Central and Eastern Europe in 1989–1990, symbolized by the opening of the Berlin Wall, there was a rapid move towards German reunification. East Germany voted to dissolve itself and accede to the Federal Republic in 1990, and its postwar five states ("Länder") were reconstituted. Along with Berlin, which was reunited as a single "Land", ending its special status, they formally joined the German Federal Republic on 3 October 1990. The expanded Federal Republic of Germany, now commonly known as simply Germany, retains much of West Germany's political culture, and it continues the memberships in international organizations, as well as its Western foreign policy alignment and affiliation to Western alliances like the European Union and NATO. From a constitutional perspective, the reunified Germany is regarded as the continuation of, and not a successor to, the West German state.

The foundation for the influential position held by Germany today was laid during the "Wirtschaftswunder" (economic miracle) of the 1950s, when West Germany rose from the massive destruction wrought by World War II to become the world's third largest economy. The first chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who remained in office until 1963, had not only selected his home town Bonn the as provisional West German capital city (thus the era is also called "die Bonner Republik"—the Bonn Republic [ [http://www.bpb.de/themen/XGTYH6,6,0,Probleme_der_inneren_Einigung.html Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung] ] ), but also had cemented a full alignment with the West rather than neutrality. He not only secured a membership in NATO, but he was also a proponent of agreements that developed into the present-day European Union. By the time of the establishment of the G6/G8 in 1975, there was no question that the Federal Republic of Germany was to be a member in that organization as well.

Western Germany ("Westdeutschland") is mainly used as a geographic term.


After World War II, leaders from the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union held the Yalta Conference where future arrangements with post-war Europe and actions to be made against Japan in the Pacific were negotiated. The conference came to the agreement to split Germany into four occupation zones — the French Zone in the far west, the British Zone in the northwest, the American Zone in the south, and the Soviet Zone in the east. Former German areas east of the Oder River and the Neisse River were put under Polish administration, and millions of Germans were expelled from there, to be replaced by Poles. (With the Soviet Union likewise taking a big bite from eastern Poland and East Prussia) In 1946, the first three zones were combined in steps. First the British and American zones were combined into the quasi-state of Bizonia, then only months afterward the French zone was included into Trizonia. At the same time, new federal states ("Länder") were formed in the Allied zones, replacing the pre-war states.

In 1949, with the continuation and aggravation of the Cold War (note the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49, the two German states that were originated in the Western Allied and the Soviet Zones became known as West Germany and East Germany. Commonly known in English as East Germany, the former Soviet Occupation Zone, became the "German Democratic Republic" or "GDR". From 3 October 1990, after the reformation of the GDR's "Länder", the East German states acceded to annexation by the Federal Republic. Since the German reunification in 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany (still the country's legal and official name) is often also called simply Germany.

NATO membership

The Federal Republic of Germany, founded on 23 May 1949, was declared "fully sovereign" on 5 May 1955. The former occupying Western troops remained on the ground, now as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) which West Germany joined on 9 May 1955, promising to re-arm itself soon.

West Germany became a focus of the Cold War with its juxtaposition to East Germany, a member of the subsequently founded Warsaw Pact. The former capital, Berlin, had also been divided into four sectors, the Western Allies joining their sectors to form West Berlin, while the Soviets held East Berlin. West Berlin was completely surrounded by East German territory and had suffered a Soviet blockade in 1948 which had been overcome by the Berlin airlift.

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 led to U.S. calls for the rearmament of West Germany in order to help defend Western Europe from the perceived Soviet threat. Germany's partners in the Coal and Steel Community proposed to establish a European Defence Community (EDC), with an integrated army, navy and air force, composed of the armed forces of its member states. The West German military would be subject to complete EDC control, but the other EDC member states (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) would cooperate in the EDC while maintaining independent control of their own armed forces.

Though the EDC treaty was signed (May 1952), it never entered into force. France's Gaullists rejected it on the grounds that it threatened national sovereignty, and when the French National Assembly refused to ratify it (August 1954), the treaty died. The French had killed their own proposal. Other means then had to be found to allow West German rearmament. In response, at the London and Paris Conferences, the Brussels Treaty was modified to include West Germany, and to form the Western European Union (WEU). West Germany was to be permitted to rearm, an idea which was rejected by many Germans, and have full sovereign control of its military called Bundeswehr; the WEU would however regulate the size of the armed forces permitted to each of its member states. Also, the German constitution prohibited any military action except in case of an external attack against Germany or its allies ("Bündnisfall"). Also, Germans could reject military service on grounds of conscience, and serve for civil purposes instead.

The three Western Allies retained occupation powers in Berlin and certain responsibilities for Germany as a whole. Under the new arrangements, the Allies stationed troops within West Germany for NATO defense, pursuant to stationing and status-of-forces agreements. With the exception of 45,000 French troops, Allied forces were under NATO's joint defense command. (France withdrew from the collective military command structure of NATO in 1966.)

Russian Empire’s Congress Poland/German Empire, Second Polish Republic-Free City of Danzig/Weimar Germany, West Germany-East Germany-West Berlin/People's Republic of Poland and current Germany/Poland, in dark gray]


The official German reunification ceremony on 3 October 1990, was held at the Reichstag building, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, President Richard von Weizsäcker, former Chancellor Willy Brandt and many others. One day later, the parliament of the united Germany would assemble in an act of symbolism in the Reichstag building.

However, at that time, the role of Berlin had not yet been decided upon. Only after a fierce debate, considered by many as one of the most memorable sessions of parliament, the Bundestag concluded on 20 June 1991, with a quite slim majority that both government and parliament should return to Berlin from Bonn.

German Economic Miracle

The West German Wirtschaftswunder (English: "economic miracle", coined by "The Times" of London in 1950), was partly due to the economic aid provided by the United States and the Marshall Plan, but mainly due to the currency reform of 1948 which replaced the Reichsmark with the Deutsche Mark as legal tender, halting rampant inflation. This act to strengthen the German economy had been explicitly forbidden during the two years that the occupation directive JCS 1067 was in effect. The Allied dismantling of the West German coal and steel industry finally ended in 1950.

In addition to the physical obstacles that had to be overcome for the German economic recovery (see the Morgenthau Plan) there were also intellectual challenges. The Allies confiscated intellectual privileges of huge value, such as all German patents, both in Germany and abroad, and used them to strengthen their own industrial competitiveness by licensing them to Allied companies. [ [http://www.econlib.org/library/enc/GermanEconomicMiracle.html David R. Henderson, "German Economic 'Miracle'", "The Library of Economics and Liberty" website] .] [ [http://www.germany.info/relaunch/culture/history/marshall.html Susan Stern, "Marshall Plan 1947–1997: A German View", "Germany Info" website] .] Meanwhile some of the best German researchers were being put to work in the Soviet Union and in the U.S.

Contrary to popular belief, the Marshall Plan, which was extended to also include the newly formed West Germany in 1949, was not the main force behind the Wirtschaftswunder. [ [http://www.econlib.org/library/enc/GermanEconomicMiracle.html Henderson, op. cit.] ] [ [http://www.germany.info/relaunch/culture/history/marshall.html Stern, op. cit.] ] Had that been the case, other countries such as Great Britain and France (which both received higher economic assistance from the plan than Germany) should have experienced the same phenomenon. In fact, the amount of monetary aid (which was in the form of loans) received by Germany through the Marshall Plan was far overshadowed by the amount the Germans had to pay back as war reparations and by the charges the Allies made on the Germans for the ongoing cost of occupation (about $2.4 billion per year). In 1953 it was decided that Germany was to repay $1.1 billion of the aid it had received. The last repayment was made in June 1971.

The Korean war (1950–53) led to a worldwide increased demand for goods, and the resulting shortage helped overcome lingering resistance to the purchase of German products. At the time Germany had a large pool of skilled and cheap labour, partly as a result of the deportations and migrations which affected up to 16.5 million Germans. This helped Germany to more than double the value of its exports during the war. Apart from these factors, hard work and long hours at full capacity among the population and in the late 1950s and 1960s extra labour supplied by thousands of "Gastarbeiter" ("guest workers") provided a vital base for the economic upturn.

From the late 1950s onwards, West Germany had one of the strongest economies in the world, almost as strong as before the Second World War. The East German economy showed strong growth, but not as much as in West Germany, due in part to continued reparations to the USSR in terms of resources.

Ludwig Erhard, who served as the Minister of the Economy in Adenauer's cabinet from 1949 until 1963 and later became Chancellor, is often associated with the German Wirtschaftswunder.

In 1952 West Germany became part of the European Coal and Steel Community, which would later evolve into the European Union. On 5 May 1955 West Germany was declared "fully sovereign". The British, French and U.S. militaries remained in the country, just as the Soviet Army remained in East Germany. Four days after becoming "fully sovereign" in 1955, West Germany joined NATO. The U.S. retained an especially strong presence in West Germany, acting as a deterrent in case of a Soviet invasion. In 1976 West Germany became one of the founding nations of the Group of Six (G6). In 1973, West Germany which was home to roughly 1.26% of the world's population featured the world's fourth largest GDP of 944 billion (5.9% of the world total). In 1987 the FRG held a 7.4% share of total world production.

Position towards East Germany

Before the 1970s, the official position of West Germany concerning East Germany was that, according to the Hallstein Doctrine, the West German government was the only democratically elected and therefore legitimate representative of the German people, and any country (with the exception of the USSR) that recognized the authorities of the German Democratic Republic would not have diplomatic relations with West Germany. In the early 1970s, Willy Brandt's policy of Ostpolitik led to a form of mutual recognition between East and West Germany. The Treaty of Moscow (August 1970), the Treaty of Warsaw (December 1970), the Four Power Agreement on Berlin (September 1971), the Transit Agreement (May 1972), and the Basic Treaty (December 1972) helped to normalise relations between East and West Germany and led to both German states joining the United Nations.

The West German Constitution ("Grundgesetz" / "Basic Law") provided two articles for the unification with other parts of Germany:
* Article 23 provided the possibility for other parts of Germany to join the Federal Republic (under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany).
* Article 146 provided the possibility for unification of all parts of Germany under a new constitution.

After the democratic revolution of 1989 in Eastern Germany, the first freely elected East German parliament decided in June 1990 to join the Federal Republic under Article 23 of the (West-)German Basic Law ("Grundgesetz"). This made a quick unification possible. In July/August 1990 the East German parliament enacted a law for the establishment of federal states on the territory of the German Democratic Republic. This East German constitutional law converted the former centralized socialist structure of East Germany into a federal structure equal to that of Western Germany.

The two German states entered into a currency and customs union in July 1990, and on 3 October 1990, the German Democratic Republic dissolved and the reestablished 5 East German states (as well as a unified East and West Berlin) joined the Federal Republic of Germany bringing an end to the East-West divide. From a West German point of view Berlin already was a member state of the Federal Republic, therefore it was regarded as an "old state".


Political life in West Germany was remarkably stable and orderly. The Adenauer era (1949–63) was followed by a brief period under Ludwig Erhard (1963–66) who, in turn, was replaced by Kurt Georg Kiesinger (1966–69). All governments between 1949 and 1966 were formed by the united caucus of the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), either alone or in coalition with the smaller Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Kiesinger's 1966–69 "Grand Coalition" was between West Germany's two largest parties, the CDU/CSU and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). This was important for the introduction of new emergency acts—the Grand Coalition gave the ruling parties the two-thirds majority of votes required to see them in. These controversial acts allowed basic constitutional rights such as freedom of movement to be limited in case of a state of emergency.

During the time leading up to the passing of the laws, there was fierce opposition to them, above all by the FDP, the rising German student movement, a group calling itself Notstand der Demokratie ("Democracy in a State of Emergency") and the labour unions. Demonstrations and protests grew in number, and in 1967 the student Benno Ohnesorg was shot in the head and killed by the police. The press, especially the tabloid "Bild-Zeitung" newspaper, launched a massive campaign against the protesters and in 1968, apparently as a result, there was an attempted assassination of one of the top members of the German socialist students' union, Rudi Dutschke.

In the 1960s a desire to confront the Nazi past came into being. Successfully, mass protests clamored for a new Germany. Environmentalism and anti-nationalism became fundamental values of West Germany. Rudi Dutschke recovered sufficiently to help establish the Green Party of Germany by convincing former student protesters to join the Green movement. As a result in 1979 the Greens were able to reach the 5% limit required to obtain parliamentary seats in the Bremen provincial election. Dutschke died in 1979 due to the epilepsy he had from the attack.

Another result of the unrest in the 1960s was the founding of the Red Army Faction (RAF) which was active from 1968, carrying out a succession of terrorist attacks in West Germany during the 1970s. Even in the 1990s attacks were still being committed under the name "RAF". The last action took place in 1993 and the group announced it was giving up its activities in 1998.

In the 1969 election, the SPD—headed by Willy Brandt—gained enough votes to form a coalition government with the FDP. Chancellor Brandt remained head of government until May 1974, when he resigned after a senior member of his staff was uncovered as a spy for the East German intelligence service, the Stasi.

Finance Minister Helmut Schmidt (SPD) then formed a government and received the unanimous support of coalition members. He served as Chancellor from 1974 to 1982. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, a leading FDP official, became Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister. Schmidt, a strong supporter of the European Community (EC) and the Atlantic alliance, emphasized his commitment to "the political unification of Europe in partnership with the USA".

In October 1982, the SPD-FDP coalition fell apart when the FDP joined forces with the CDU/CSU to elect CDU Chairman Helmut Kohl as Chancellor in a Constructive Vote of No Confidence. Following national elections in March 1983, Kohl emerged in firm control of both the government and the CDU. The CDU/CSU fell just short of an absolute majority, due to the entry into the Bundestag of the Greens, who received 5.6% of the vote.

In January 1987, the Kohl-Genscher government was returned to office, but the FDP and the Greens gained at the expense of the larger parties.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, the reunification was quickly arranged. Formally, the Federal Republic of Germany grew by joining of the 5 East German states (which had been reestablished only a few month before). As well both parts of Berlin had been reunited. This took place on 3 October 1990.

The four occupying powers officially withdrew from Germany on 15 March 1991.



In the 20th century Association Football became the largest sport in Germany. The Germany national football team, established in 1908, continued its tradition based in the Federal Republic of Germany, winning the 1954 FIFA World Cup in a stunning upset dubbed the miracle of Bern. The 1974 FIFA World Cup was held in West German cities and West Berlin. After having been beaten by their East German counterparts in the first round, the team of the DFB won the cup again, defeating the Netherlands 2–1 in the Final. With the process of unification in full swing in the summer of 1990, the Germans clinched a third World Cup, with players that had been capped for East Germany not yet permitted to contribute. European championships have been clinched too, in 1972, 1980 and 1996.

After both Olympic games of 1936 had been held in Germany, Munich was selected to host the 1972 Summer Olympics. These were also the first summer games where the East Germans showed up with the separate flag and anthem of the GDR. Since the 1950s, Germany at the Olympics had been represented by a united team led by the pre-war German NOC officials as the IOC had denied East German demands for a separate team.

As in 1957, when the Saarland acceded, East German sport organizations ceased to exist in late 1990 as their subdivisions and their members joined their Western counterparts. Thus, the present German organisations and teams in football, Olympics and elsewhere are identical to those which informally had been called "West German" before 1991, with the only differences being enlarged membership, and a different name used by some foreigners. These organizations and teams in turn had mostly continued the traditions of those representing Germany before WW2 and even WW1, thus having a century old continuity despite political changes. On the other hand, the separate East Germans teams and organisations had been founded in the 1950s, they were an episode lasting less than four decades, yet quite successful in that time.

Life in general

During the 40 years of separation some divergence occurred in the cultural life of the two parts of the severed nation. Both West Germany and East Germany followed along traditional paths of the common German culture, but West Germany, being obviously more susceptible to influences from western Europe and North America, became more cosmopolitan. Conversely, East Germany, while remaining more conservative than West Germany in its adherence to some aspects of the received tradition, was strongly molded by the dictates of a socialist ideology of predominantly Soviet inspiration. Guidance in the required direction was provided by exhortation through a range of associations and by some degree of censorship; the state, as virtually the sole market for artistic products, inevitably had the last word in East Germany. East Germany also had less freedom; movement was closely watched by government policing parties. On the non-political level, East Germany was also influenced by the Eastern Bloc's Slavic cultures that manifested in art, culinary scene, and sports.

For the majority of Germans in present-day Germany who lived in pre-reunification West Germany, there is minimal change in daily life stemming from German reunification as the reunified country is essentially West Germany incorporating East Germany on the West German basis. In contrast, for the Germans who hailed from the former East Germany, the scale of change has been wholesale on all walks of life from that of before "die Wende". The transition has seen a near complete abandonment, either enthusiastically or under pressures from West Germans, of the East German culture that sprang up during the years of separation. Although movements like Ostalgia exist attempting to celebrate and preserve parts of the GDR culture, post-reunification wise the former East Germany has been converging towards the western part of the country in most parts of daily culture.

Geographical Distribution of Government

The West German government was known to be much more decentralized than its communist East German counterpart, all of whose agencies were located in East Berlin.

However, in West Germany, most of the political agencies and buildings were located in Bonn, the German Stock Market was located in Frankfurt am Main, which became the economic center. The judicial branch of both the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) and the highest Court of Appeals, were located in Karlsruhe.

Present geographical and political terminology

Today, Rhineland and Westphalia are often considered to be western Germany in geographical terms. When distinguishing between former West Germany and former East Germany as parts of present-day unified Germany, it has become most common to refer to the "Alte Bundesländer" (old states) and the "Neue Bundesländer" (new states), although "Westdeutschland" and "Ostdeutschland" are still heard as well.


External links

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