East Germany

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East Germany, formally known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR) (German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik [DDR]), a Communist nation of Europe which existed from 1949 to 1990. (It is sometimes argued that the only democratic aspect of the country was the word in its name.)

History

After World War II, at the Potsdam Conference in 1949, the victorious countries France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union decided to divide Germany into four parts. Each country controlled a part of former Germany.

When in 1949 the three sectors controlled by the United States, England and France united and formed the Federal Republic of Germany ("West Germany") the Soviet part was made its own country, the German Democratic Republic, or "East Germany". East Germany was heavily under the influence of the Soviet Union, becoming a totalitarian state-socialistic country, and part of Warsaw Pact.

Because food and other basic industries were subsidised in East Germany, people flooded over from the west in order to take advantage of the subsidised food. Furthermore, in West Germany the return of Nazis to many government positions caused East Germany to soon start to separate itself from West Germany (which became more wealthy, democratic and capitalist, with help from England, France and most of all, the United States) by closing the open borders with fences, turrets, dogs and most of all huge walls, in 1961. Just as Germany was divided after the war, Berlin, the former capital, of Germany was divided into four sectors. Since Berlin lay entirely inside the Soviet part of Germany, the areas of Berlin being held under the control of the three western countries soon became known as West Berlin. Conflict over the status of West Berlin led to the Berlin Airlift.

When East Germany closed the western borders, it also literally enclosed West Berlin within a huge wall, the Berlin Wall. Travel was greatly restricted into, and particularly out of, East Germany. Many who had come to East Germany as anti-fascists who were opposed to the quick reinstatement of Nazi functionaries and industry in the west found themselves captives of a bureaucratic and impoverished state which, alone, was forced to pay reparations to the U.S.S.R.

In 1989, many people fled East Germany by crossing the "green" border from Hungary to Austria. Many others peacefully demonstrated against the ruling party. On November 9th, 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and with it the whole communist system of East Germany. Both parts of Germany united into something unlike what had ever been before, a new post cold war Germany amidst Europe.

To this day, there remain many differences between the formerly "eastern" and "western" parts of Germany (both in lifestyle, wealth, political beliefs and such) and thus it is still common to speak of eastern and western Germany distinctly; one would hesitate however to contend it is greater than say that between a southern Bavarian and a Hamburg resident. In this new Germany the economic chasm is greater than in the former West Germany, and much greater than in the former West Germany . 70% of the women who were employed under the former East German Government lost their jobs in the time of or directly following unification. Unemployment and long term poverty as well as an uncomfortable reawakening of nationalistic and fascistic sentiments. These have led to uncomfortably large numbers of attacks on foreigners, or those percieved to be foreign.


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