DEUTSCH
ENGLISH
ESPAÑOL
FRANÇAIS
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THE BASIC LAW
THE CONSTITUTIONAL BODIES
THE LEGAL SYSTEM
FEDERALISM & SELF-GOVERNMENT
PARTIES & ELECTIONS
COUNTRY AND LANDSCAPE
THE "LÄNDER" (STATES/COUNTRIES)
THE PEOPLE
THE STATE OF HAMBURG
HISTORY UP TO 1945
HISTORY PAST 1945
HAMBURG HISTORY
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History from 1945 to present days
Reorientation after 1945. Following the unconditional surrender of the German forces on 8/9 May 1945, the last government of the German Reich, headed by Grand Admiral Dönitz, remained in power for another two weeks. Its members were then arrested and, together with other National Socialist leaders, brought before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg and tried for crimes against peace and humanity.

On 5 June the victorious powers – the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and France – assumed supreme authority in the territory of the Reich. Their basic objective, according to the London Protocol of 12 September 1944 and follow-up agreements, was to exercise total control over Germany. This policy was based on a division of the country into three zones of occupation and Berlin, the capital, into three parts; there was to be an Allied Control Council composed of the three commanders-in-chief.

At the conference held in Yalta (Crimea) in February 1945, the Big Three decided that France should be involved as the fourth controlling power and allocated its own occupation zone. In Yalta the intent was declared to terminate Germany’s existence as an independent state but keep the country intact. Stalin in particular was keen to preserve Germany’s economic unity. He demanded such huge reparations for the Soviet Union’s terrible sacrifices as a result of Germany’s invasion that they could not possibly have been made by one zone alone. Moscow wanted 20 billion dollars and control over 80 percent of all of Germany’s factories.

Contrary to their initial plans, the British and Americans also advocated preservation of a viable rump Germany, not out of greed for reparations but because, after about the fall of 1944, U.S. President Roosevelt aimed to establish a stable Central Europe as part of a system of global equilibrium. Germany’s economic base was indispensable to this plan. He had therefore quickly discarded the notorious Morgenthau Plan, which would have reduced Germany to an agricultural country and would have divided it into a north German and a south German state.

Differences between the victorious powers continued to grow, however. As a consequence, the original aim of the Potsdam Conference (17 July to 2 August 1945), namely the creation of a new postwar order in Europe, receded into the background. The four powers were only able to agree on the matters of denazification, demilitarization, economic decentralization and the reeducation of the Germans along democratic lines. The Western powers also gave their fateful consent to the expulsion of Germans from the eastern German territories that had been placed under Polish administration as well as from northeastern Prussia, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The West had insisted that the transfer be carried out in a “humane“ fashion, but in the following years some 7.75 million Germans were brutally deported. They were made to suffer for Germany’s war crimes, but also for the shift in Poland’s western boundary as a result of the Soviet Union’s occupation of Königsberg and eastern Poland. Practically the only point on which East and West agreed was that the four zones of occupation should be preserved as economic and political units. Each occupying power was to initially draw its reparations from its own zone. As was to be seen later, however, this set a precedent in that not only the reparations arrangement but also the attachment of the four zones to different political and economic systems made Germany the country where the Cold War manifested itself most of all. This came about in stages.

Meanwhile the task of establishing German political parties and administrative authorities had begun in the individual zones of occupation. This happened very quickly in the Soviet zone under rigid control, with the result that even before the end of 1945 parties and several central administrative bodies had been formed.

In the three Western zones the development of a political system was a bottom-to-top process, that is to say, political parties were permitted only at the local level at first, then at the state level after the Länder had been created. Only later were they allowed to form associations at the zonal level. Zonal administrative structures were materializing very slowly, and as the destroyed country’s material want could only be overcome by means of generous planning across state and zonal borders, and as quadripartite administration was not functioning, the United States and the United Kingdom decided in 1947 to merge their zones economically into what was known as the bizone.

The divergence of the systems of government in East and West as well as the very different approaches to reparations in the individual zones of occupation were an obstacle to the introduction of uniform financial, taxation, raw materials and production policy throughout Germany and led to considerable regional disparities. France was not interested in a common economic administration (bizone/trizone) at first. Stalin wanted to have a say in the management of the Ruhr but at the same time sealed off the Soviet-occupied zone. The Western powers were powerless to prevent such arbitrary Soviet measures as the compulsory merger of the German Communist Party (KPD) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) to form the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in April 1946.

In view of the intensifying conversion of the Soviet zone of occupation into a communist dictatorship, the British and Americans began to work harder to promote the development of their own zones. The Western powers were intent on alleviating misery and need in the Western zones and paving the way for the creation of a democratic state structure based on freedom.

An enemy becomes a partner. With his famous speech in Stuttgart on 6 September 1946, U.S. Secretary of State Byrnes had indicated the changed approach. Stalin’s occupation of Poland and the redrawing of that country’s borders were described as merely temporary measures. As Byrnes saw it, the military role of the Western Allies in western Germany had changed from one of occupation and control to one of protection.

Finally, at the initiative of the United Kingdom and the United States and after initial French resistance, a trizone was established as a unified Western economic area. The threat of another Soviet advance westwards following the coup d’état in Prague on 25 February 1948 induced the French to fall into line. Byrnes’ views were reflected first in the Brussels Pact of 17 March 1948 and ultimately in the North Atlantic Treaty of 4 April 1949.

For such an organization to work, western Germany had to have a coherent political and economic system. Thus at the Six-Power Conference in London (23 February to 3 March and 20 April to 1 June 1948), which was attended for the first time by the Benelux countries, France, the United Kingdom and the United States agreed that the Western zones of occupation should have a common political structure.

At the 82nd meeting of the Allied Control Council on 20 March 1948, the Soviet representative, Marshal Sokolovski, asked for information on the London Conference. When his Western colleagues answered evasively, Sokolovski walked out, never to return.

While the Western powers were still finalizing their recommendations for a constituent assembly to be convened by the western German minister-presidents (the heads of government of the states), Stalin used the introduction of the Deutsche Mark (DM) in the west (currency reform of 20 June 1948) as a pretext for imposing a blockade on Berlin (West) with the aim of annexing it to the Soviet-occupied zone. During the night of 23 June 1948, all land routes between the Western zones and Berlin (West) were closed. Supplies of energy and food from the Eastern sector of Berlin and the Soviet-occupied zone stopped. Until 12 May 1949 Berlin (West) was kept supplied by an Allied airlift. This visible solidarity with Berlin (West) as a Western outpost, together with America’s demonstration of strength, furthered a willingness in western Germany to cooperate with the occupying powers.

The founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. Western Germany had already begun receiving American foreign aid in 1946, but it was the program to combat “hunger, poverty, despair and chaos“ (the Marshall Plan) that provided the crucial boost for western Germany’s economic recovery (1.4 billion dollars between 1948 and 1952). While in the Soviet-occupied zone the process of transferring industry to public ownership continued, the “social market economy“ system continued to gain ground in the west after the currency reform. The new economic order was intended to prevent, on the one hand, the “stagnation of capitalism“ and, on the other, a centrally planned economy which would be a hindrance to creativity and initiative. This economic order was supplemented by the rule-of-law and social-state principles embodied in the Basic Law and by the federal structure of the Federal Republic of Germany. The newly drafted constitution was deliberately termed the “Basic Law“ in order to emphasize its provisional character. The idea was that a definitive constitution should only be adopted after Germany’s reunification. Upon its promulgation by the Parliamentary Council in Bonn, the Basic Law entered into force on 23 May 1949.

The Basic Law naturally included many of the intentions of the Western occupying powers, who on 1 July 1948 had authorized the western German minister-presidents to draw up a constitution. But that document also reflects past experience with the Weimar Republic and the unjust National Socialist state. The constitutional convention at Herrenchiemsee (10-23 August 1948) and the Parliamentary Council which met in Bonn on 1 September 1948 (65 delegates of the state parliaments) incorporated into the Basic Law provisions requiring future governments, parties and other political groupings to protect the democratic system. Ever since, all attempts to do away with the free, democratic basic order or to replace it with a rightwing or left-wing dictatorship have been treated as criminal offenses, and the organizations concerned can be banned. As a logical consequence, the Federal Republic of Germany has also committed itself under a separate Article of the Basic Law (Article 23, the “Europe Article“) to ensuring that democratic, rule-oflaw, social and federal principles are safeguarded in a united Europe. These commitments were a direct reaction to past experience under the National Socialist dictatorship.

Most of the “politicians of the Federal Republic’s first hour“ had suffered at the hands of the National Socialists. These men and women now set about rebuilding Germany on the democratic traditions of 1848/49 and 1919 and in the spirit of the “revolt of the conscience“ of 20 July 1944. All of them personified in the eyes of the world the “other Germany“ and won the respect of the occupying powers. They included the first Federal President Theodor Heuss (FDP), the first Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (CDU) and Economics Minister Ludwig Erhard (CDU), the “father“ of the “economic miracle“, as well as outstanding leaders of the SPD opposition such as Kurt Schumacher, Erich Ollenhauer and Carlo Schmid. It was they who gave the new party system in western Germany an unmistakable character. Gradually, German involvement and political influence increased (Occupation Statute, Petersberg Protocol, GATT membership, accession to the European Coal and Steel Community). In July 1951 the United Kingdom, France and the United States declared that Germany was no longer a war enemy. The Soviet Union did the same in January 1955.

Security through integration with the West and European reconciliation. To Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Germany’s reunification in peace and freedom was the foremost political objective. To achieve this, western Germany had to be integrated into the Atlantic Alliance. Accordingly, the repeal of the Occupation Statute on 5 May 1955 coincided with the accession of the Federal Republic to NATO. At the same time, efforts to further develop the European Communities were intensified (Treaties of Rome, 1957).

Adenauer’s distrust of Moscow was so deep-rooted that in 1952 he, together with the other Western powers, rejected Stalin’s offer of reuniting Germany as a neutral country as far as the Oder-Neisse line. To Adenauer, this offer was too unclear to warrant placing the upcoming integration of the Federal Republic into the West at risk. His suspicion seemed only too justified when, on 17 June 1953, the people’s uprising in the GDR in protest against their lack of freedom and against the unbearable productivity norms imposed by the regime was savagely put down by Soviet tanks. It was, however, also evident that without Moscow little progress could be made on the German question. Thus for sober political reasons it was expedient to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union as the largest power in Europe. This was accomplished during Adenauer’s visit to Moscow in September 1955.

The crushing of the popular revolt in Hungary by Soviet troops in November 1956, as well as the “Sputnik shock“ (4 October 1957), signaled a considerable growth of Soviet power, which manifested itself in the establishment of a socialist system in the GDR but above all in the Berlin ultimatum issued by Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, who demanded that the Western Allies leave Berlin (West) within six months.

Their adamant refusal led Khrushchev to try a softer approach on Berlin. His visit to the United States in 1959 did indeed considerably improve the atmosphere (“spirit of Camp David“) and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the great displeasure of the Bonn government, said that the Soviet transgressions of international agreements regarding Berlin were not so serious as to warrant a military conflict outside Germany.

Bonn’s disquiet with regard to Berlin’s security increased when John F. Kennedy became President of the United States. This represented a change of generation in the American leadership which considerably reduced Adenauer’s influence on U.S. policy towards Europe. True, Kennedy guaranteed with his three “essentials“ (25 July 1961) free access to Berlin, the presence of the Western powers in the city, and its overall security, but when the Berlin Wall was built on 13 August 1961 the Allied reaction went little beyond diplomatic protests and symbolic threats. Once again, Moscow was able to safeguard its protectorate. Barricades, death strips and repression prevented the people from “voting with their feet“ against the GDR regime. Prior to the building of the Wall, almost three million people had left the GDR. In July 1961 alone, more than 30,000 had fled.

Despite the building of the Wall and the tensions triggered by the Cuba crisis in 1962, the two superpowers continued to seek a better understanding – they had to on account of the nuclear stalemate. Bonn therefore had no option but to look in other directions, and the temporary estrangement from Washington was in fact outwardly compensated for by the “summer of French friendship“. The signing of the Elysée Treaty in January 1963 marked the culmination of the process of Franco-German reconciliation. This treaty laid the foundations for better understanding between the people of both countries and for close cooperation in many areas. In order to stress the new quality of this relationship, de Gaulle, during his triumphant state visit to Bonn a few months earlier, had spoken of the “great German nation“. In his view, World War II had to be seen more in terms of tragedy than of guilt.

As the Federal Republic became increasingly integrated into the Western community, the atmosphere also began to improve in the relationship with Eastern Europe. In December 1963 NATO, at a ministerial meeting in Athens, had signaled this change with its new strategy of flexible response in place of that of massive retaliation. In an attempt to soften the rigid East-West relationship, the Federal Republic tried to improve contacts at least with the Soviet Union’s satellite countries. Without officially abandoning the Hallstein Doctrine – Bonn’s policy of refusing to establish diplomatic relations with any country that maintained or established diplomatic relations with the GDR – Adenauer’s successors, Ludwig Erhard and Kurt Georg Kiesinger, based their policy on the harsh realities prevailing in Central Europe. They were prompted to do so not least by the new approach adopted by the SPD opposition, which promoted Egon Bahr’s formula of “change through rapprochement“ (15 July 1963).

In the West, there were increasing efforts to merge the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the European Economic Community (EEC) into one European Community (EC; 8 April 1965). The establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel despite pan-Arab protests was a major step in the Federal Republic’s policy of rapprochement. At the beginning of 1967 Bonn established diplomatic relations with Romania, and in June 1967 the Federal Republic and Czechoslovakia opened trade missions in their respective capitals. The Harmel Report of December 1967 at least prepared the way for further steps towards détente by laying down the Western Alliance’s twofold aim of maintaining its military strength while at the same time being ready to talk to the Eastern bloc.

In addition to the policy of reconciliation with Germany’s European neighbors and its integration into the Western community, Adenauer had attached special importance to restitution for the Jews. Six million Jews had been systematically exterminated by the National Socialists. It was not least the close personal relation-ship between the Federal Republic’s first Chancellor and Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion which fostered the process of reconciliation between Jews and Germans. One outstanding event at that time was their meeting in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel on 14 March 1960. Addressing parliament in 1961, Adenauer stressed that the Federal Republic could only prove that the Germans had broken completely with their National Socialist past by making material restitution as well.

As early as 1952 the first agreement had been signed in Luxembourg. It provided for assistance for the integration of Jewish refugees in Israel. Of the total sum of about DM 90 billion provided for restitution purposes, roughly one third went to Israel and Jewish organizations, and especially to the Jewish Claims Conference, a hardship fund which helped Jews all over the world who had been persecuted by the National Socialists. However, diplomatic relations between Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany were not established until 1965.

German-German dialogue in spite of the GDR’s selfdetachment. In spite of the GDR’s continuing efforts to cut itself off completely from the West (e.g. by requiring passports and visas for persons in transit between the Federal Republic and Berlin (West)) and in spite of the Warsaw Pact’s crushing of attempted reforms in Czechoslovakia (Prague Spring) in 1968, the “Brezhnev Doctrine“ of the indivisibility of the socialist bloc did not have any serious repercussions on the process of détente. In April 1969 Bonn said it was ready to enter into agreements with the GDR below the level of international recognition.

Obviously, German-German agreements of this kind could hardly be achieved without some kind of prior understanding with Moscow. When the Soviet Union proposed a non-aggression pact, the “Ostpolitik“ (new eastern policy) adopted by the Social-Liberal coalition that had assumed power in Bonn on 21 October 1969 quickly began to take on substance.

A few months previously (5 March 1969), Gustav Heinemann, who even in Adenauer’s day had been a strong advocate of East-West rapprochement, had been elected Federal President. Willy Brandt, who had played an active part in the resistance against the Hitler dictatorship, was now head of a federal government which directed its energies to the construction of a peaceful order throughout Europe. The international constellation was favorable. Moscow and Washington were negotiating on the limitation of strategic arms (SALT), and NATO proposed negotiations on mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR). On 28 November 1969 the Federal Republic became a party to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Following the turbulence experienced by its predecessor, the grand coalition government (Vietnam conflict, Auschwitz trials, ExtraParliamentary Opposition and student revolts), the new cabinet, by embarking on its “Ostpolitik“, placed itself under considerable pressure to produce results.

While talks on a non-aggression agreement were being conducted in Moscow and Warsaw, Bonn and Berlin (East), too, explored the possibilities of improving relations. On 19 March 1970 the heads of government of the two German states, Willy Brandt and Willi Stoph, met for the first time in Erfurt. This was followed by another meeting on 21 May 1970 in Kassel. On 12 August 1970 a treaty on the renunciation of force and recognition of the status quo was signed in Moscow. Both sides proclaimed that they had no territorial claims against “anyone“.

On 7 December of that year the Treaty of Warsaw was signed, which reaffirmed the inviolability of the existing border (the Oder-Neisse line). Warsaw and Bonn, too, gave an assurance that they had no territorial claims against one another and declared their intention of improving mutual cooperation. In an “information“ document on humanitarian measures, Warsaw agreed to the transfer of ethnic Germans from Poland and the reunion of separated families by the Red Cross.

In order to pave the way for the ratification of those treaties, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin which stated that the Western sectors of Berlin were not a constituent part of the Federal Republic but that Bonn was entitled to represent them. In addition, the “ties“ between the Western sectors of Berlin and the Federal Republic were to be improved and relations between Berlin (East)/GDR and Berlin (West) developed (signing of the Transit Agreement on 17 December 1970).

After a failed vote of no confidence against Brandt, the German Bundestag ratified the treaties with the Soviet Union and Poland on 17 May 1972. Most CDU/CSU members of parliament abstained. The Bundestag, in an “interpretative resolution“, declared that the treaties did not conflict with the aim of restoring German unity by peaceful means.

The series of treaties with Eastern Europe was rounded out by a Treaty on the Basis of Relations (Basic Treaty) between the two German states which had been preceded by talks and negotiations since June 1972. After Willy Brandt’s reelection as Chancellor on 14 December 1972, the way was clear for the signing of the Treaty in December of the same year. Both sides undertook not to threaten or use force against one another and to respect each other’s independence. The inviolability of the border between the two German states was also endorsed. Furthermore, the two sides expressed their willingness to resolve humanitarian problems in a practical manner. It was agreed that, owing to the special nature of their relationship, they would establish “representations“ in their respective capitals instead of the usual embassies. At the signing ceremony a letter was handed over in which the Federal Government emphasized its intention to pursue German unity.

In 1973 the Treaty of Prague between Czechoslovakia and the Federal Republic was signed. It declared the Munich Agreement of 1938 to be null and void “in accordance with this Treaty“. The two sides also agreed that their borders were inviolable and that they would not use force against one another.

While negotiations were going on in Vienna on mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR), the Soviet Union and the United States completed an agreement designed to prevent a nuclear war, and 35 countries attended the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki, little change occurred in the relationship between the Federal Republic and the GDR.

Nonetheless, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, too, strived to continue the policy of developing a balanced relationship. On 16 May 1974 he had succeeded Willy Brandt, who had resigned when one of his aides, Günther Guillaume, was unmasked as a GDR spy. The Final Act of the CSCE (Helsinki, 1975), which called for greater freedom of movement in transboundary traffic and more respect for human and civil rights, came to form the basis for resistance against the rigid regimes of Central and Eastern Europe. For the sake of the people in the GDR, the Federal Republic resolutely pursued its efforts to improve relations. Thus in 1978 an agreement was reached to build an autobahn from Berlin to Hamburg and to repair the transit waterways to Berlin (West), the greater part of the cost being borne by the Federal Republic. The Federal Government also continued to buy the release of political prisoners from the GDR. Bonn ultimately paid over DM 3.5 billion to obtain the release of 33,755 people and to have 250,000 families reunited.

Missiles versus détente. Whereas the process of European integration continued steadily in the West, the transition from the 1970s, the decade of détente, to the 1980s was marked by fresh conflicts in Eastern Europe. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the imposition of martial law in Poland and the emplacement of new intermediate-range missiles (SS-20) in the Soviet Union worsened the climate of East-West relations.

NATO reacted to this serious upset of the balance of security by deciding that it, too, would introduce new missiles as from 1983. But at the same time it proposed arms control negotiations to the Soviet Union. This was the “two-track“ decision. In protest at the invasion of Afghanistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway and the Federal Republic refused to take part in the Moscow Summer Olympics (1980).

The United States tried a new initiative, the “zero“ solution, by which the Soviet Union would remove its intermediate-range missiles while NATO would promise not to deploy its Pershing II and the new cruise missiles.

While Chancellor Schmidt insisted on the missile modernization alternative so as not to leave any gaps in the Western security shield, he at the same time tried to minimize the damage to the German-German relationship. Despite GDR leader Erich Honecker’s demand for recognition of a separate GDR citizenship, and despite the drastic increase in the minimum daily exchange requirement for visitors from the West, Schmidt visited the GDR – but without getting any substantial concessions from Honecker. The regime’s hardening ideological stance was not least a reaction to the growing protest movements in neighboring Poland, where more and more people were demanding economic reform, freedom and disarmament.

But the missile question was not only problematical in the East. In Bonn the FDP decided to change its tack on economic policy and began to break away from the coalition. Grass-roots SPD followers, largely because of pressure from the peace movement and some union factions, withdrew their support from Schmidt for adhering to the NATO two-track decision. As a result, Helmut Kohl replaced him as Chancellor at the head of a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition after a constructive vote of no confidence on 1 October 1982. The new Chancellor continued the Federal Government’s security policy and close cooperation with Paris and Washington with a view to uniting Europe within a stable and secure framework. In spite of massive peace demonstrations, Helmut Kohl’s government stood firm: In November 1983 the German Bundestag agreed to the deployment of the new missiles. The credibility of the Western Alliance was thus strengthened and a crisis within NATO averted.

A new dialogue on disarmament between the superpowers began as early as the mid-1980s. It was soon possible for the missiles which had just been deployed in the Federal Republic to be removed once again.

From the decline of the GDR to German unity. The German Democratic Republic, which had been founded on 7 October 1949, was a product of the Soviet Union. It was from the outset a communist dictatorship built on the foundations of the rule of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and the presence of the Red Army. The command economy, the secret police, the all-powerful SED and strict censorship increasingly alienated the people and the regime. However, very inexpensive housing, health care and social services – made possible by government price-fixing and subsidies – gave this self-contained system a certain amount of flexibility which enabled the people to eke out an existence in many different ways. The GDR’s great success in international sports was a sort of compensation, just as the “workers“ gained satisfaction from the fact that they soon had the highest rate of industrial production and the highest standard of living in the Eastern bloc, despite having to make huge reparations to the Soviet Union.

In spite of all the propaganda, it became increasingly clear to the people that GDR’s original intention of overtaking the Federal Republic economically would remain a dream. Depleted resources and loss of productivity as a consequence of central planning forced the SED regime to go easy on its promises. It had to raise increasingly large loans in the West. Improvisation became the order of the day with regard to consumer goods. The quality of life and infrastructure (housing, transport, environment) thus deteriorated.

A Big-Brother spy network kept watch on everyone, and the system’s incessant propaganda and mendacious appeals for solidarity made the claim about the leadership role of “the working class and their Marxist-Leninist party“ (Article 1 of the GDR constitution) sound like hollow rhetoric, especially to the young generation. The people began to demand a say in running their own lives, more individual freedom, and more and better consumer goods.

As the atmosphere of diplomatic relations deteriorated as a result of the quarrel over the deployment of intermediate-range missiles, the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, a space-based defensive umbrella proposed by the Americans) and the GDR’s continued aggravation of the West (by building a second wall at the Brandenburg Gate, for instance, and impeding traffic in the air corridors to Berlin), the people of the GDR themselves put pressure on their own leadership. From the beginning of 1985 more and more people came to the Federal Republic’s permanent representation in Berlin (East) and its embassies in Prague and Warsaw seeking to emigrate to the Federal Republic.

In 1986 the new General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, declared that his main political objective was to eliminate nuclear weapons by the end of the century. His meetings with U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Geneva and Reykjavik, the Conference on Confidenceand Security-building Measures and Disarmament in Europe (CDE) held in Stockholm and the preparations for negotiations on the reduction of conventional forces in Europe indicated a new readiness for dialogue between East and West. This new approach was conducive to agreements between the two German states on cultural, educational and scientific cooperation.

But the SED regime did not want to be infected by Gorbachev’s “perestroika“ and “glasnost“. The extent to which the GDR leaders ignored the expectations of their own people was shown by the protest demonstrations in Berlin (East) on 13 August, the anniversary of the building of the Wall. Chancellor Helmut Kohl spoke against the continuation of Germany’s division when, during Honecker’s working visit to Bonn in 1987, he said: “We respect the present borders but we want to overcome the country’s division by peaceful means through a process of mutual understanding. We have a joint responsibility for preserving the vital foundations of our nation.“

One step towards disarmanent was the INF Treaty signed by Reagan and Gorbachev. Under that accord, all U.S. and Soviet missiles with a range of 500 to 5,000 kilometers which were deployed in Europe had to be withdrawn and destroyed. The Federal Republic for its part pledged to destroy its 72 Pershing IA missiles.

The general climate of détente led to increasing demands for greater freedom and reform in the GDR. During demonstrations in Berlin (East) in early 1988, 120 supporters of the peace movement known as “Church from the Grass Roots“ were arrested. Prayers were said for them in the Gethsemane Church. Over 2,000 people attended the service, and a fortnight later their number had swollen to 4,000. In Dresden the police broke up a demonstration for human rights, free speech and freedom of the press.

In September 1989 Hungary opened its border, thus permitting thousands of people from the GDR to pass through to Austria and from there into the Federal Republic. This breach of Warsaw Pact discipline encouraged ever more people in the GDR to take to the streets in protest, including growing numbers outside the church. When the GDR leaders celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of the GDR with great pomp and ceremony at the beginning of October 1989, mass demonstrations were held, primarily in Leipzig. (“We are the people!“) It became clear that the GDR leadership under Honecker was not receiving any support from the Soviet Union.

In a last-ditch effort to preserve the essence of the SED regime, Erich Honecker was forced to resign his offices as head of state and General Secretary of the SED on 18 October 1989. He was succeeded by Egon Krenz, but the latter’s promise of “change“ was drowned out by the protests of the people, who did not trust him. Under the pressure of events, the Council of Ministers and the SED Politburo resigned en bloc. The peaceful revolution seemed to paralyze the authorities. As a result, a casual and awkwardly worded announcement that travel restrictions were to be eased prompted the opening of the border crossings in Berlin on the evening of 9 November 1989, ushering in a night of indescribable joy. The Wall was open.

The revolution in the GDR opened up the opportunity for Germany’s reunification after a wait of decades. Helmut Kohl therefore published a ten-point program on 28 November 1989 which envisaged a “contractual arrangement“ based on a confederal system leading to fundamental political and economic change in the GDR.

On 15 January 1990, 150,000 people demonstrated in Leipzig, chanting “Germany – united Fatherland“. The people in the GDR distrusted their new government, which was headed by Hans Modrow. They became increasingly drawn to the West, and the process of destabilization in the GDR accelerated rapidly. But still Gorbachev held back, particularly since Poland and Hungary were escaping Moscow’s grasp, Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu had been overthrown in December 1989, and the GDR’s departure from the Warsaw Pact would inevitably upset the balance of power. From Western quarters, too, came exhortations to the Germans to “take account of the legitimate concerns of neighboring countries“ (U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, speaking in Berlin) as they pursued national unity. Finally, the unification process could only be continued after Bonn had given an assurance that there would be no shifting of the present borders, that in the event of unification NATO’s “structures“ would not be extended to the territory of the former GDR, and that Germany would reduce its armed forces to offset its strategic advantage. U.S. President George Bush was in favor of German unification provided the Federal Republic remained a member of NATO.

On 18 March 1990, the first free elections in 40 years were held in the GDR. Lothar de Maizière became Prime Minister, heading a grand coalition made up of the CDU, DSU, DA, SPD and FDP. With him the Bonn government agreed on a timetable for monetary, economic and social union with effect from 1 July 1990, it having become palpably clear that the GDR had no economic basis on which to continue alone and that the majority of the people in the GDR wanted accession to the Federal Republic. In August 1990 the Volkskammer (the GDR parliament) voted in favor of accession as soon as possible, and on 31 August GDR State Secretary Günter Krause and Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble were able to sign the “Unification Treaty“. Thus on 3 October 1990 the German Democratic Republic officially acceded to the Federal Republic in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law. The – newly reestablished – GDR states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Sax-ony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia became states (Länder) of the Federal Republic of Germany. Berlin was made the capital and the Basic Law, after appropriate amendments, entered into force in the territory of the former GDR as well.

The road to unity had been opened by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, who had given his approval after talks with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in Moscow and in the Caucasus in July 1990. He did so on the condition that the Federal Republic would forgo ABC weapons and reduce its forces to 370,000, and that NATO’s military organization would not be extended to GDR territory as long as Soviet forces remained stationed there. It was also agreed that the Soviet troops would be withdrawn from eastern Germany by the end of 1994. Gorbachev’s agreement meant that the so-called Two-plus-Four Treaty could be signed in September 1990. Within that framework the Soviet Union, the United States, France and the United Kingdom as well as the representatives of the two German states confirmed the unification of Germany consisting of the territories of the former GDR, the Federal Republic and Berlin. Germany’s external borders were recognized as definitive. Bonn and Warsaw concluded a separate treaty to take account of Poland’s special security needs in the light of history. Both agreed to respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The ratification of the Unification Treaty and the Twoplus-Four Treaty marked the termination of the rights and responsibilities of the four victorious powers “with respect to Berlin and Germany as a whole“. Germany thus regained the complete sovereignty over its internal and external affairs which it had lost 45 years earlier after the fall of the National Socialist dictatorship.

Setting the stage for the future. Following the restoration of German unity and the colossal political changes occurring in the wake of the collapse of the communist systems in Eastern Europe, Germany and its partners faced formidable challenges. Although considerable progress has been made, major tasks still lie ahead.

National, European and global responsibilities are inseparably intertwined. Recovery and consolidation in the new states cannot take place unless they are closely bound up with the process of European integration. Europe cannot retain its new structure without opening itself up to the reformist states in Central and Eastern Europe. Economically as well as politically, the states of eastern Central Europe must be led step by step towards the collective European and Atlantic organizations. In this spirit, a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was signed between the European Union and Russia in Corfu on 24 June 1994. The extensive aid provided by the Federal Government to Russia is in keeping both with its vital interest in the success of the democratic transformation process and with the newly shared political values. Since 1989, Germany’s financial expenditure and existing obligations to the former Soviet Union and the present CIS states have totaled more than DM 90 billion. The greater part of the German support for the political and economic reform process in the CIS states has consisted of the credit guarantees and sureties of the Hermes-Export-kreditversicherung (export credit insurance scheme) amounting to DM 47.1 billion.

In spite of drastic cuts in public spending, the Federal Republic will continue to stand by its financial commitment to the developing countries as well in the coming years. It helps them to help themselves in order to improve the economic, social and political conditions experienced by the people living there. Respect for human rights, participation of the people in the political process, the guarantee of the rule of law, the introduction of a socially oriented market economy, and the development orientation of government action in the recipient countries are important criteria used by the Federal Government in the giving of development aid.

The fact that the Federal Republic of Germany ranks third among contributors to the United Nations (8.9 percent of the U.N. budget) and pays 22.8 percent of the NATO budget and 28.5 percent of the WEU budget emphasizes the willingness of the Federal Government, in continuation of its policy to date, to contribute to stability and the maintenance of peace within a bilateral and multilateral framework. These are reasons for the German application for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

At the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, a transport unit of the Bundeswehr took part for the first time in a United Nations blue helmet operation in the summer of 1993 in “pacified areas“ of Somalia. This operation was the subject of controversial political discussion in Germany. Then, in July 1994, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that German armed forces could participate in operations within the framework of NATO or WEU activities in support of the implementation of resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. According to the judgment of the Court, the same applies to the participation of German armed forces in United Nations peacekeeping troops. On 6 December 1995 the German Bundestag voted by a large majority to approve the mission of 4,000 Bundeswehr soldiers within the framework of the U.N. operations in Bosnia. At the beginning of 1997 the German Minister of Defence, with the approval of the German Bundestag, placed 3,000 Bundeswehr soldiers under the command of the Stabilization Force (SFOR), NATO’s international peacekeeping force for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Germany has also supplied the second largest police contingent for the International Police Task Force (IPTF) stationed in former Yugoslavia.

On the road to European Union. On 1 January 1999, Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Important endeavors to further European integration are on its agenda. The first focus of the German Presidency is to conclude the negotiations on “Agenda 2000“, which deals with the tasks, expenditure and financing of the European Union. Another aim is to step up the negotiations on the enlargement of the EU to the east.

The common internal market of the then twelve EC states was launched at the beginning of 1993. This market united 345 million Europeans to form the economic area with the greatest purchasing power on earth. With the exception of Switzerland, the states of the European Free Trade Association EFTA (Austria, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and the European Community formed the European Economic Area. The first stage for achieving monetary union began in mid-1990. During this period capital transfers among EC states were liberalized, and coordination of economic policy between the partners as well as cooperation between their central banks were intensified. In the second stage, which began in 1994, the European Monetary Institute (EMI) made preparations for the establishment of a European Central Bank (ECB) with headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. After the Heads of State or of Government resolved on 2/3 May 1998 to initially have eleven Member States enter the third stage of economic and monetary union, the European Central Bank took up its work on 1 June 1998. Consistent adherence to the convergence criteria, above all maintenance of a high degree of monetary stability and budgetary discipline, is a precondition for the success of the third stage, which began on 1 January 1999 pursuant to the Treaty on European Union. The national currencies of the Member States participating in the euro shall cease to be legal tender on 1 July 2002.

The Federal Government attached particular significance to the fact that in 1991 in Maastricht the Heads of State or of Government not only negotiated the Treaty on Economic and Monetary Union but furthermore agreed on European Union, which provides a superstructure for the further deepening of the European Community. The Treaty entered into force in November 1993. In the view of the Federal Government, the deepening of the European Union must go hand in hand with its enlargement – after the accession of the former EFTA states Finland, Austria and Sweden (on 1 January 1995) also by bringing the states of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe closer to the EU.

With this in mind, at the EU summit which took place in Essen in December 1994 and was attended by 21 Heads of State or of Government a concept was adopted for smoothing the path towards the European Union for the Central and Eastern European reformist states linked to the EU by Europe Agreements. This concept evolved into an enlargement process that was officially initiated with eleven candidates on 30 March 1998. Official negotiations on accession commenced one day later with six of these states: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus.

Since 26 March 1995 the Schengen Agreement has been in force: There are no longer any checks on travelers at the borders between Germany, the Benelux countries, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Austria but there are, however, stricter passport and customs checks at the outer frontiers.

Through the Treaty of Amsterdam, which was agreed by the Heads of State or of Government on 16 and 17 June 1997, this cooperation will be integrated into the framework of the European Union in the future. The Treaty of Amsterdam, which marked the successful conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference that had begun in Turin in March 1996, significantly strengthens the European Union’s capacity to act in external and internal security matters and lays the foundations for resolute action in respect of the urgent problems of unemployment and the strengthening of the social policy component.

The economic unification of Germany. The process of bringing western and eastern Germany into balance is being completed in the context of European unification and in parallel with a process of global political and economic restructuring brought about by the collapse of the Eastern European system of states. Conversion of the economy of the former GDR, structured as it was on planned economy lines, into a functioning system based on the principles of the social market economy was and remains a challenge that is unique in history to date. It requires a massive transfer of finances from western to eastern Germany: By the end of 1997, public spending had totaled about DM 1 trillion.

Economic recovery in eastern Germany continues to make great strides. Crucial to the region’s ability to compete in the world’s markets was above all the improvement in the quality of its products, which fueled a nearly 26 percent increase in exports. The initial public offering of the completely restructured Thuringian corporation JENOPTIK in June 1998 highlighted one of the most successful reconstruction endeavors since the fall of the Wall.

A key precondition for economic recovery in the east was the rapid development of a modern infrastructure, especially in the areas of transport and telecommu nications. Today Germany’s new states have one of the most modern and most efficient telephone and communications networks in the world. Vigorous efforts to build an efficient scientific and research sector are facilitating the swift transfer of technological insights to firms for translation into practical applications.

There is still a sizeable wage and productivity gap between the new and the old states, however. In 1997 real wages in the east were 77.2 percent of those in the west; productivity was 62 percent of the western figure. Higher unit wage costs continue to be one of the greatest disadvantages faced by the new states in establishing themselves as attractive locations for business and industry.

Overall economic performance in the new states has nevertheless risen more than 40 percent since 1991, and the east’s contribution to Germany’s entire gross domestic product has increased to 11.6 percent. In the first quarter of 1998, real GDP growth in the new states was 3.8 percent above the figure for the previous year. The business community’s confidence in the economic development process in the new states is reflected in its tremendous investment in modern buildings and production facilities: The most recent rate of invest ment was 45.1 percent, a figure never attained in the old states.

The Federal Government has declared that overcoming the economic and social divisions still existing between eastern and western Germany is its foremost aim in regard to the completion of German unification. It will continue to make substantial funds available to stimulate further economic recovery in the east. In 1998 approximately DM 52 billion were earmarked for measures to promote improvements in the infrastructure and in general living conditions.

Since the beginning of 1995, the new states have been included in the financial equalization system among Germany’s states, from which they received approximately DM 57 billion in 1995. Prior to this, the “German Unity Fund“ had ensured their financial capacity to act.

To compensate for the massive costs incurred as a result of recovery and restructuring in the new states, as well as to prevent the Federation’s net new borrowing from assuming boundless proportions (debt service now consumes almost 20 percent of total federal resources), a solidarity surcharge is levied in Germany which presently amounts to 5.5 percent of wage, income and corporation taxes.

Both the business community and society must adapt to ever stiffer global competition and institute structural changes in order to ensure that the Federal Republic of Germany remains an attractive location for business and industry in the future. Already in the coalition agreement between the SPD and Alliance 90/The Greens, the Federal Government under Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder resolved to implement a comprehensive set of measures to boost growth and reduce unemployment. These include the Alliance for Jobs and Training and increased support for economic reconstruction in the east as well as specific improvements in the areas of education and science in order to ensure the future viability of German business and industry. Through a tax reform, statutory non-labor wage costs for firms are to be reduced and the purchasing power of the population increased.

The overwhelming majority of Germans strongly approve of national unification. Understandably, many Germans in east and west have different opinions on the contribution which the people in the old states are making to help those in the new. The alienation that had developed over a period of more than 40 years of isolation is now becoming less and less pronounced, however, especially since the general initial euphoria has given way to a sober assessment of what is feasible.

Today Germany is an accepted partner in the world, a nation committed to respecting and safeguarding international law and human rights.


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