History of the Federal Republic of Germany (until 1990)

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The enlarged Federal Republic since October 3, 1990 , above it the areas divided after 1949:
• FR Germany (until 1990),
• Berlin (→ Berlin question ),
• GDR (accession 1990) and
• Saarland (accession 1957, → Saarland 1947 until 1956 )

The history of the Federal Republic of Germany up to 1990 deals with the history of the West German state from 1949 to 1990. Even if the Federal Republic survived the reunification with the German Democratic Republic formed in 1949 in East Germany in 1990 without any breach under constitutional law , the historical research starts from a political and social perspective Caesura between the old Federal Republic until 1990 and the reunified Federal Republic since 1990. Their history is described under History of Germany (since 1990) .

The Federal Republic of Germany came into being after the defeat of the German Empire in World War II under the subsequent rule of the occupying powers in post-war Germany . At the instigation of the Western Allies , the territory of the western zones of occupation ( Trizone ) was reorganized by the state when the Basic Law drawn up by the Parliamentary Council came into force on May 24, 1949. The Basic Law as a constitution is based on federal traditions and defines the free-democratic basic order as the basis of a democratic, social and constitutional republic . The economic miracle that began when the consequences of the war were overcome brought full employment and increased income for broad sections of the population, while the Nazi past was initially largely suppressed . From the 1960s, liberalization and Westernization processes followed , which manifested themselves in the 1968 movement . From the 1970s onwards, the economic situation deteriorated with persistent base unemployment . New social movements emerged, which made environmental, anti-nuclear and women's issues relevant in the 1980s. The initially tense relationship between West Germany and the GDR during the Cold War was eased by the new Ostpolitik and ended after the peaceful revolution in 1989 with the establishment of German unity on October 3, 1990 .

Initial situation in 1945

Cologne 1945
Occupied areas of the later Federal Republic of Germany, German Democratic Republic and Berlin in 1945, but without the eastern areas of the German Reich under foreign administration

When the Wehrmacht surrendered unconditionally on May 8, 1945, US, British and French troops were in West Germany and Soviet troops were in East Germany , including the entire city of Berlin. Americans and British initially occupied Thuringia and parts of Saxony , later parts of Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg . In July 1945, based on prior agreements, the Western Allies withdrew to the contractually defined area in the west, and in return the Soviet Union vacated the western part of Berlin . Thus, in addition to the four zones of occupation , the four-sector city of Berlin , governed jointly by all four powers, was created , each with a Soviet, American, British and French sector.

At the Potsdam Conference in July/August 1945, the three victorious powers , the United States of America , the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom , decided on August 2, 1945 to place the eastern German territories beyond the Oder-Neisse line under the administrative sovereignty of the Soviet Union and Poland. They divided the remaining territory of the German Reich within the borders of December 31, 1937 into occupation zones. France , which had only been recognized as the fourth victorious power at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 but had not attended the conference, approved the agreement with reservations.

Three months earlier, the Soviet Union had already transferred the German eastern territories with the exception of Königsberg and north -east Prussia (today Kaliningrad Oblast ) to the later People's Republic of Poland for administration . The Soviet Union was given the area of ​​what later became the German Democratic Republic as its occupation zone . The United Kingdom claimed the territory of present -day Schleswig-Holstein , Hamburg , Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia . The American zone of occupation extended across Bavaria , Hesse , the northern parts of Württemberg and Baden . As a port city, Bremen and Bremerhaven came under American occupation. France received what later became Rhineland-Palatinate , the southern parts of Württemberg and Baden, and the Saarland as zones of occupation. The four victorious powers divided the former imperial capital of Berlin into four sectors .

The Allied Control Council , based in Berlin, held supreme governmental power for all of Germany ; The Allied Command , which was subordinate to the Control Council, was responsible for Greater Berlin .

In the years that followed, the systematic expulsion of the German population began in the eastern regions, in Czechoslovakia and other East-Central European countries. Around 14 to 16 million people were expelled to the western and Soviet zones of occupation or had to flee, adding to the already difficult situation. In some areas, the majority of the population soon consisted of displaced persons.

In Germany itself, life in the cities, some of which were bombed, was very difficult due to a lack of housing and food shortages, destroyed infrastructure, a lack of electricity supply and fuel shortages. Because many men were prisoners of war, rubble women cleared the rubble in the cities. City dwellers drove en masse into the country on so-called hamster trips in order to exchange food for material goods. The Reichsmark as the official currency no longer had any real value due to the extensive compulsory use, the black market and trade in material goods flourished, US cigarettes became a substitute currency . Due to the lack of fuel, numerous trees were felled and coal trains looted. Food was only available through food stamps or was homegrown.

The occupying powers ordered denazification , banned the NSDAP and its sub-organizations and removed all National Socialist symbols. The Germans in the western zones of occupation were systematically examined with the help of questionnaires regarding their National Socialist past. However, there were numerous ways to get a so-called “ clean bill of health” on the black market . Numerous offices had to be filled in the authorities (in many places with old Nazis), and many new teachers were trained for their profession in just a few months. The trial of the main war criminals began in Nuremberg on November 14, 1945 ; on October 1, 1946, 12 of the 21 main suspects (defendants) were sentenced to death. This was followed by follow-up trials against other war criminals .

occupation time

With the exception of Bavaria , Bremen and Hamburg , the states of West Germany were created in 1946/47 by merging previously independent states and former Prussian provinces. The first free municipal and state elections were held in these years. In February 1946, a zone advisory board made up of representatives from parties , trade unions and the administration was formed in the British occupation zone to advise the military government . On December 1, 1946, Hesse was the first state to adopt a post-war constitution . However , Article 41 of the Hessian constitution , which provided for the transfer of key industry operations to public ownership, was never implemented. With Konrad Adenauer as chairman of the CDU in the British zone and Kurt Schumacher as chairman of the SPD , two pioneering figures appeared on the scene in the spring of 1946. In April 1946, the German courts resumed their work. Also in August of that year, US charities began shipping CARE packages to West Germany and the GARIOA program to help alleviate famine ; in September 1946 the RIAS was founded in Berlin. In his speech in Stuttgart on September 6, 1946, US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes emphasized his positive attitude towards Germany policy and announced a change in German-American relations. He also hinted at a continued Western Allied presence in Germany.

On January 1, 1947, the bizone came into being with the unification of the US and British zones of occupation . The magazine Der Spiegel also appeared for the first time that month . The Allied Control Council dissolved the state of Prussia in February 1947 in order to prevent the Germans from returning to their military traditions. The Marshall Plan was launched on June 5, 1947, while an all-German prime ministers ' conference in Munich on economic cooperation between the state governments had failed. In July, an Economic Council of the United Economic Area was formed to get economic activity going again. At the meetings of Group 47 , the first works of post-war literature were presented.

After the failure of the London Foreign Ministers ' Conference in December 1947, the rift between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union became insurmountable. In the months of February and March 1948, the London Six-Power Conference took place with the USA , Great Britain , France , the Netherlands , Belgium and Luxembourg , which discussed the formation of a West German state and the Brussels Pact , an alliance to protect Western interests against the Soviet Union's striving for power , discussed. In protest against the decisions, the Soviet envoy left the Allied Control Council on March 20 , which had failed. In 1949, the Allies regulated Germany's western border with the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Saar region and France in accordance with the decision of the six powers in London. Some border areas ( Elten area , Selfkant area ) were annexed to the Netherlands, in return the Netherlands renounced the implementation of the Bakker-Schut plan .

Also in March 1948, Ludwig Erhard began his career as head of the “Economic Council” of the bizone; at the same time, the Bank deutscher Länder , predecessor of the Bundesbank , was founded.

Airlift Monument in Berlin-Tempelhof , popularly known as "Hungerrake" or "Hungerkralle".

The introduction of the D-Mark associated with the currency reform in West Germany on June 20, 1948 , which was answered a few days later in the SBZ and Berlin with the introduction of the DM-Ost , finally split Germany into two economic areas. In contrast to the SBZ, it also meant the end of compulsory farming in the western zones and thus quickly undermined the basis for the black market there. After the Soviet Union had failed in Berlin with the introduction of the DM-Ost as the only currency, it imposed the Berlin Blockade on June 24, 1948 over the western sectors, to which the Western Allies reacted from June 26, 1948 with the airlift to Berlin .

Founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949

On July 1, 1948, the military governors of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States delivered the West German prime ministers the Frankfurt Documents , papers in which they communicated their ideas about the formation of a West German state . The heads of the federal states then consulted and passed the Koblenz Resolutions from July 8 to 10, 1948 , in which they made it clear that there was no need to found a state, but only to reorganize Germany. The members of a constituent assembly should be elected by the state legislatures and not directly. From August 10th to 23rd, 1948, the constitutional convention met at Herrenchiemsee to prepare for this assembly.

On September 1, 1948, the 65-member Parliamentary Council , chaired by Konrad Adenauer , met in the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn and worked out the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany in the months that followed. In April 1949, the three western powers decided to replace the military governments in the western zones previously combined to form the trizone with an Allied High Commission and to establish the occupation statute. On May 8, 1949, the members of the Parliamentary Council presented the Basic Law. On May 10, the Parliamentary Council discussed the issue of the "provisional seat" of Parliament and Government. He decided with 33 to 29 votes in favor of Bonn against Frankfurt am Main . Other applicants who had already been eliminated were Kassel and Stuttgart . A few years later, some MPs admitted to having been swayed in favor of the vote. However, the committee of inquiry set up by the German Bundestag was unable to clarify whether bribes had also been paid in this connection . On May 12, 1949, the three western military governors approved the Basic Law, subject to the provisions of the Occupation Statute. On the same day, the Soviet Union ended the Berlin blockade.

"I would ask you to include in the discussion that today we simply call ourselves the Federal Republic of Germany ...
With the word Germany we give the whole thing a certain pathos..."

Theodor Heuss : later Federal President , in the deliberations of the Parliamentary Council, 1948.

The Basic Law was adopted by the state parliaments, a constitutional referendum was not planned. Only Bavaria refused with 101 dissenting votes because it criticized the lack of federalism , but the Free State nevertheless accepted the validity of the provisional federal constitution for itself. According to Article 144 of the Basic Law, a two-thirds majority “of the German states in which it is initially to apply” was required for the Basic Law to become legally binding. The Prime Minister at the time, Hans Ehard ( CSU ), announced on May 13, 1949 in the Bavarian state parliament that the Bavarian state government rejected the Basic Law, but accepted that it was legally binding.

The Basic Law came into force after its promulgation at the end of May 23, 1949, as federal law at the same time as the Federal Republic came into being with the beginning of May 24, 1949. The constitutional law of the Federal Republic of Germany has been accepted by the overwhelming majority of the citizens as the basic legal order. May 23rd is generally regarded as the founding day of the Federal Republic.

The structure of the federal organs began on August 14, 1949 with the first election to the German Bundestag . This was the first time that the “ federal people ”, the highest direct federal body, acted. The CDU/CSU received 31.0% of the votes, the SPD 29.2% and the FDP 11.9%. A total of eleven parties entered the Bundestag. The constituent sessions of the Bundestag and Bundesrat took place in Bonn on September 7, 1949 (cf. Article 123 (1) of the Basic Law). Senior President Paul Löbe opened the Bundestag session and later handed over the chair to the elected President of the Bundestag Erich Köhler . The Federal Council elected the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia , Karl Arnold , as Chairman and thus Deputy President.

On September 12, 1949 , the Federal Assembly elected Theodor Heuss ( FDP ) as Federal President in the second ballot ; his strongest opponent was Kurt Schumacher (SPD). Three days later, on September 15, the German Bundestag elected Adenauer as Chancellor with exactly the required majority . This formed a government coalition of the CDU/CSU, FDP and German party . Whether the Federal Republic of Germany came into existence when the Basic Law came into force or only when its constitutional bodies were constituted (i.e. the first session of the Bundestag) or only on September 20, 1949 when the Adenauer cabinet took office is a matter of debate in research.

Adenauer era (1949–1963)

west orientation

In his politics, Konrad Adenauer pursued a Western integration of the Federal Republic, which was already clear with the Petersberg Agreement , which he concluded with the Allied High Commission . The SPD, in particular, with its chairmen Kurt Schumacher and later Erich Ollenhauer , came in for strong criticism of this directional decision, fearing that the division of Germany would become “cemented” . Within the governing coalition, politics did not go unchallenged either. As early as November 30, 1949, Adenauer was considering the political feasibility of a German contingent for a European army. In October 1950, Federal Interior Minister Gustav Heinemann resigned in protest against the planned rearmament and Adenauer's leadership style.

The Ministry of Expellees , which had been set up since the founding of the Federal Republic, regulated a housing construction program and the equalization of burdens until 1969 , which was financed by a property levy on West Germans in possession. Of the more than twelve million Germans who fled and were expelled between 1944/1945 and 1950 , around eight million settled in the western zones of occupation.

On March 1, 1950, at its 10th meeting, the Committee on the Occupation Statute and Foreign Affairs reports that the Federal Republic of Germany paid around 4,491.5 million DM to the Allied occupying powers from October 1, 1948 to September 30, 1949 , which was almost 50 percent of the total federal revenue (8,750 million DM). For every German citizen, this meant a share of 95.46 DM, which was almost the same as an average monthly wage.

On May 24, 1950, Chancellor Adenauer General a. D. Gerhard Graf von Schwerin as his permanent adviser on military and security matters.

On 26 October 1950, Theodor Blank (CDU) was appointed Chancellor's representative for questions relating to the increase in Allied troops . To this end, Blank appointed the former generals of the Wehrmacht , Adolf Heusinger and Hans Speidel , as military advisors. The “ Blank Office ” became the nucleus of what later became the Ministry of Defence .

In 1952, Josef Stalin made the proposal to reunify Germany as a neutral country. The Stalin notes caused irritation, but were rejected by the Western powers because they feared that the Soviet Union would take over all of Germany. In 1954 there followed an inconclusive Four Powers Foreign Ministers ' Conference in Berlin on reunification (British Anthony Eden , American John Foster Dulles , French Georges Bidault and Vyacheslav Molotov for the Soviet Union; 25 January to 18 February 1954).

In 1951 the Foreign Office was re-established and the Federal Border Police established; the Federal Republic became a member of the Council of Europe . In 1952, in an exchange of letters, Adenauer and Heuss agreed on the Hoffmann-Haydn song as the German national anthem . Heuss initially took his time with the presidential decision, but then announced in the Bulletin of the Federal Government in May 1952 that the third verse of the Deutschlandlied should be sung on state occasions.

In April 1952, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg was created .

The western bond advanced. In 1952 the Germany Treaty was created and the EVG Treaty was signed. However, the defense community failed in 1954. On July 23, 1952, the Montanunion founded on April 18, 1951 also came into force, which was to prove to be the nucleus of European unification; it ended international control over the Ruhr area .

In September 1952, the Luxembourg Agreement on Compensation for Nazi Victims was signed with Israel . In October 1952, the Federal Constitutional Court banned the right- wing extremist Socialist Reich Party (SRP), and in August 1956 the KPD was banned . These remained the only party bans in the Federal Republic. In the Bundestag elections in September 1953, the CDU was able to win and Theodor Heuss was re-elected as Federal President in 1954 . From 1954, June 17 was celebrated in the Federal Republic as the “ Day of German Unity ”; The occasion was June 17, 1953 , the day of the popular uprising in the GDR.

After the failure of the European Defense Community , the Federal Republic was accepted into NATO in May 1955 and joined the WEU .

German division and East-West conflict

With the repeal of the Western Allied occupation statute, the Federal Republic of Germany became sovereign on May 5, 1955. This sovereignty was limited to the scope of the Basic Law, which means that the Allies retained a right of reservation over Germany as a whole and the four-sector city of Berlin. There were no free elections throughout Germany. The Paris Agreements followed , including the Western Germany Agreement, and the state sovereignty of the GDR . On January 25, 1955, the Soviet Union unilaterally declared the state of war with Germany over. A good six months later , on July 26, at a rally in East Berlin , the General Secretary of the CPSU , Nikita Khrushchev , announced the Soviet two-state theory , which assumes two German states whose reunification is their own affair (see also Molotov plan ).

Federal Republic (blue), Berlin (yellow) and GDR without East Berlin (red). Status from 1963 (i.e. with Saarland and the Selfkant) to 1990

An important political issue in the years that followed was the Federal Republic's claim to sole representation for Germany within the borders of 1937. The Federal Republic did not recognize the GDR as a state and maintained no diplomatic relations with its allies. However, after Adenauer traveled to Moscow in September 1955 , where he obtained the release of the last prisoners of war from Soviet camps in exchange for establishing diplomatic relations, West German policy needed clarification. This was achieved by the Hallstein Doctrine , which stated that the Federal Republic of Germany should end relations with any state that recognized the GDR diplomatically. It was first applied in relation to Yugoslavia in 1957 . The doctrine only lost its meaning in the late 1960s.

There was massive resistance and concern to rearmament from all walks of life. In fact, however, an attitude of refusal without me had hardly any effect. The response of the anti-nuclear movement and pacifism remained limited. When the Bundeswehr was founded, the possibility was opened up of refusing military service and doing civilian service instead . The acceptance of conscientious objection, which was possible for the first time in German military history , was initially low; Allegations went in the direction of communist infiltration or " shirking ". Many former Wehrmacht officers were given career opportunities in the new army because of their experience. The concealment of the Nazi past by members of the Bundeswehr and many other leading figures in state, political parties, administration and the judiciary would later become a great burden for West German society. In April 1956, the Federal Intelligence Service emerged from the former Gehlen organization . First Minister of Defense became Theodor Blank , who was later succeeded by Franz Josef Strauss , the former Minister for Atomic Affairs. His efforts to equip the Bundeswehr with nuclear weapons under German control failed after a few years.

European Integration

The international community was still reluctant to establish official contacts with Germany, so it was only in 1956 that the Federal President was invited to a state visit by an initiative from Greece . Heinrich von Brentano , the Federal Foreign Minister at the time , took the euphoric atmosphere and warm welcome from the local population as an opportunity to conclude agreements in the areas of culture and education and thus initiate bilateral relations at ministerial level. Foreign ambassadors demonstratively stayed away from the official reception, but an invitation followed from Turkey , to which Theodor Heuss felt personally connected as if to Greece.

In the Saarland , which was spun off from the French occupation zone and placed under a French military authority , the desire for union with the Federal Republic became clear in the state elections of 1952, even though the parties were not allowed to demand union. Adenauer tried to solve the previously ignored problem of the Saarland's special position in favor of France, but the Saarlanders clearly rejected the Saar Statute in a referendum . In the further course, both Adenauer and the French gave in, the Treaty of Luxembourg enabled the Saarland to join the Federal Republic of Germany, effective at the beginning of 1957, although this initially remained a foreign customs country. Economic integration in the form of customs integration and the replacement of the franc by the German mark took place on July 6, 1959.

The EEC , the predecessor organization of the EG and EU , was brought into being with the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957. The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member. On March 13, 1957, the US headquarters in West Germany announced that the US armed forces had been equipped with nuclear weapons .

In the 1957 Bundestag elections , the CDU/CSU received an absolute majority in the Bundestag for the first time. In 1959, Adenauer considered a candidacy for Federal President, which he then rejected. Finally, in July 1959, former CDU Minister of Agriculture Heinrich Lübke was elected Federal President . In November 1959, in the Godesberg program , the SPD shed its self-image as a workers' party and transformed itself into a people's party .

In order to stop the flight from the GDR to the Federal Republic, on August 13, 1961, the GDR government sealed off the western sectors of Berlin by building the Berlin Wall . The western powers only protested cautiously, as this did not constitute a violation of their rights in Berlin. Two years later, during his Berlin speech in June 1963, US President John F. Kennedy said the famous sentence " Ich bin ein Berliner ".

On August 1, 1963, on the basis of the Holland Treaty , the Netherlands returned the Selfkant and Elten, areas with a total area of ​​69 km², to the Federal Republic of Germany for a payment of 280 million DM.

The variety in the party landscape had decreased in favor of the CDU, the expellees party ( All-German Block/Bund der Heimatvertriebenen und Entrechteten , BHE for short) was split, and MPs from the DP converted to the CDU in 1960. In the Bundestag elections in September 1961, the CDU and CSU union lost its absolute majority, but continued to form the government. For the first time, only two other parties were represented in the Bundestag alongside the Union parties, the SPD and the FDP, which was to be characteristic of German parliamentarianism at federal level in the next two decades. In October 1962, Defense Minister Strauss fell over the Spiegel affair . In January 1963, the reconciliation of the former "archenemies" Germany and France reached its formal climax with the Élysée Treaty . Since then, France has been the most important partner in German foreign policy.

As early as 1961, the 85-year-old Adenauer declared that he no longer wanted to remain in office for a full legislative period. Despite quarrels between Adenauer and Economics Minister Ludwig Erhard , the CDU appointed Erhard as his successor as Federal Chancellor in April 1963. Adenauer resigned from his post on October 15, 1963.

economic miracle society

After work began in 1947 in the American and British zones of occupation to restore the transport infrastructure that had been destroyed during the war, production increased sharply from autumn 1947, but the supply situation for the population did not improve, as large quantities were produced for storage in anticipation of a currency reform . After the currency reform of 1948 , the shops were full to bursting. In the period that followed, the so-called (economic) "breakthrough crisis" occurred, the cost of living rose faster than hourly wages, and unemployment rose from 3.2% by the beginning of 1950 to 12.2%. The situation on the labor market quickly eased again as part of the global economic boom that followed the Korean War . West Germany also received Marshall Plan aid. Post - war unemployment fell until full employment was finally achieved in 1962 . The increasing need for workers was initially covered by the flow of refugees from the GDR ; when this broke off with the construction of the Wall , the Federal Republic recruited guest workers primarily from southern Europe and Turkey . The very good economic development of the 1950s and 60s is referred to as the economic miracle . This was part of the worldwide post-war boom .

After the need for staple foods was covered - the ration cards were abolished in 1950 - a sales market for delicatessen items re-emerged for the first time . The demand for clothing was then satisfied (“Fresswelle”, “Edelfresswelle” and “Clothing wave”). From the 1960s onwards, the “ mom and pop shops ” were being pushed out by supermarkets with a wide range of products. Due to increasing prosperity, the transition from the seller 's market to the buyer 's market took place and the importance of advertising increased significantly. Tourism developed , also due to the increasing number of vacation days and reduction of working hours. Initially only holiday destinations within Germany were in demand, but with increasing prosperity the popularity of destinations in other European countries, e.g. B. Italy .

D shield

In the early 1950s, most Germans still traveled by bike, bus and train. Motorcycles became increasingly popular and in the 1960s the sales figures of the now mass-produced automobiles rose sharply. The VW Beetle thus became a symbol of the German economic miracle. In agriculture, large farms with their modern technology pushed out small farms. This development was also favored by the land consolidation and the agricultural policy in the EEC . With the full training of what later became known as the second industrial revolution , the proportion of industrial workers in the workforce reached an all-time high in the mid-1960s.

Women were better off legally, but their main occupation was still that of housewife and mother .

In protest against the "prosperity stalemate" of adults, young people developed their own culture, which was expressed primarily in rock 'n' roll . Idols of the time included James Dean , Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley . For the first time in history, purchasing power was available to a broad group of young people, caused by increasing prosperity: it was spent on consumer goods, clothing and mobility and, last but not least, was skimmed off by a newly emerging pop culture .

Since wealth was still very unequally distributed and there was a large number of people on welfare , the federal government tried to reduce social grievances; accordingly, the share of social spending in the federal budget increased enormously. Nevertheless, families with many children and pensioners in particular were disadvantaged, and so dynamic pensions were introduced in 1957 in order to adjust the income of pensioners to the income development of the rest of the population. Measures such as the Maternity Protection Act and the introduction of child benefit also served this purpose. Housing construction played an important role in the post-war period . Due to rapidly rising wages, the broad masses of workers increasingly benefited from economic development.

In 1950 the working group of the public broadcasters of the Federal Republic of Germany ( ARD ) was founded. On December 25, 1952, the first television test program appeared. Various feature films were real " street sweepers " in the early days of television. But the in-house productions also enjoyed growing popularity, with Durbridge films such as The Neckerchief and Tim Frazer in particular achieving ratings of around 90 percent. In 1963, the Second German Television ( ZDF ) began operating as a result of the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement . Color television was introduced in Germany in 1967 .

Going to the cinema was a popular pastime. People wanted to forget the past and enjoy life carefree, and so the Heimatfilm was very popular with the public. A formative figure in film and television was Heinz Erhardt . The 1951 film The Sinner became a scandal for allegedly glorifying prostitution , euthanasia and suicide . In 1957 the prostitute Rosemarie Nitribitt was murdered. The 1958 film made about this murder also saw itself as social criticism. Rowohlt's rotary novels (rororo) were published in paperback in 1950 and revolutionized the book market because of their low prices.

The World Cup title of the German team at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland raised German self-esteem and established enthusiasm for football – the “ Miracle of Bern ” went down in history. Schooling was compulsory for nine years in the Federal Republic from 1952 . The belief in unbridled progress and science was still unbroken. The peaceful use of nuclear energy was seen as the solution to the energy problem. The Kahl nuclear power plant was built for commercial power generation as the first German nuclear reactor (after the Munich research reactor in 1957) and supplied electricity to the grid from June 1961. During the storm surge of 1962 in Hamburg, the then senator of the police authority and later Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt proved his worth as a crisis manager. After a two-week search on November 7, 1963, eleven miners trapped in the Lengede mine accident were rescued alive after water ingress.

Ludwig Erhard, Grand Coalition and the 1968 Movement

The new Federal Chancellor Ludwig Erhard (since 1963) was associated with the success of the social market economy by the population . In social policy B. with the pension reform of 1957 , Erhard was not always on the line of Adenauer and in particular a declared opponent of the enforced pay-as-you-go system of the pension insurance . In the election of the German Federal President in 1964 , Heinrich Lübke was re-elected with the votes of the SPD, which did not nominate its own candidate. This is seen as a step towards the grand coalition. The federal elections in 1965 confirmed the coalition of CDU/CSU and FDP and thus the chancellorship of Ludwig Erhard, who, however, quickly lost his reputation. It became clear that the years of the economic miracle were over. In 1965, 45 percent of West Germany's workforce were factory workers, more than at any time in history. From then on things changed: fewer secondary school students, fewer industrial workers, and the service sector has been growing ever since. From 1966 the Federal Republic entered a recession with increased unemployment . Added to this was the fact that coal from the Ruhr region increasingly lost its importance as an important source of energy due to cheaper oil . There were mine closures and a slow structural change in the Ruhr area in the late 1960s and 1970s. Erhard refused to pursue an active economic policy because this contradicted his concept of the social market economy. The government was also burdened with the Starfighter affair , various crashes of the technically immature fighter planes and the complications involved in its purchase. The FDP gradually distanced itself programmatically from the CDU. Finally, on November 30, 1966, Ludwig Erhard announced his resignation as Federal Chancellor. This was preceded by the failure of new coalition negotiations with the FDP and the merger with the SPD to form the grand coalition .

After the Eichmann trial in 1961 and the Auschwitz trials that began in 1963 , 20 years after the end of the war, the debate over the statute of limitations for the crimes of the National Socialist dictatorship occupied people 's minds. According to the criminal law of the time, these murders became statute-barred in 1965. In order to prevent this, attempts were made to procure incriminating material, especially from Eastern Europe , from 1964 onwards. Since it was foreseeable that there would not be enough time for the indictment to be brought, after long debates it was agreed that the statute of limitations would be set at 1969, 20 years after the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. The confrontation with the National Socialist past has only now been discussed to a significant extent. The electoral successes of the right-wing extremist NPD in various state parliaments also gave rise to international fears of Germany slipping back into nationalism . In 1969, the Bundestag first lifted the statute of limitations for genocide , and then in 1979 for murder in general.

Another topic of the time was the educational crisis . Overcrowded lecture halls and criticism of the existing school system led in 1965 to a large-scale demonstration by pupils and students "Against the education crisis" in around 30 cities with over 200,000 participants and then to the formation of a national education council. But only the social- liberal government ( Brandt I cabinet ) should strive for an educational reform. In 1967 there were again demonstrations against the education shortage in West Germany, but now the topics of the protest against emergency laws and the Vietnam War have expanded .

The child murderer Jürgen Bartsch was arrested in June 1966, and the debate about reintroducing the death penalty flared up in the years that followed .

The grand coalition under Federal Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger managed to stop the recession with an energetic economic policy . Measures for this were the Stability and Growth Act , which specified the economic policy goals and was also considered the means of choice for achieving all of the goals of the magic square , and the concerted action , a policy of consensus between trade unions and employers . The introduction of first-past-the-post voting rights in the face of the NPD 's successes failed primarily because of the resistance of the SPD.

The emergency laws that had been considered earlier were now enforced. These laws, conceived as an “emergency constitution”, were intended to regulate the powers and responsibilities of the federal government in exceptional situations such as disasters and state threats. This was accompanied by restrictions on fundamental rights . The necessary two-thirds majority for the amendment of the Basic Law was achievable through the grand coalition. There was widespread popular resistance to the emergency laws and the grand coalition, since with the exception of the small FDP there was no longer any opposition in parliament. The extra-parliamentary opposition (APO) emerged with mass rallies and protest marches.

The Vietnam War , the educational crisis, the silence about the Nazi past and a false morality in society led to a movement that wanted to change society, mainly among the student body. One trigger was the shooting of the student Benno Ohnesorg by the policeman Karl-Heinz Kurras during the demonstration on June 2, 1967 in West Berlin on the occasion of the visit of the Shah of Iran . In the years that followed, the protest movement spread further and reached its peak with the assassination of Rudi Dutschke in April 1968 in Berlin. As a result, there were massive riots, especially in front of the building of the Axel Springer publishing house in the western part of Berlin, since its newspapers had criticized the students in a polemical way.

Kiesinger lost his reputation as a result of internal party quarrels, while Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Willy Brandt gained in profile through his politics and his demeanor. In the federal presidential election in March 1969, the joint candidate of the SPD and FDP, Gustav Heinemann , won . This step was an anticipation of a possible government responsibility of the two parties. However, changes in the composition of the state parliaments, which send half of the members of the Federal Assembly that elects the Federal President, made such a voting result possible in the first place. The CDU emerged as the strongest parliamentary group in the Bundestag elections in September 1969 , but the SPD and FDP together had the “Chancellor majority” and formed the government. The Union went into opposition for the first time. Brandt became chancellor, the FDP politician Walter Scheel new foreign minister and vice chancellor.

Social Liberal Coalition

In domestic politics , numerous reform projects were implemented under the motto "dare more democracy": Marriage and family law was reformed in the sense of equal rights , criminal law was changed with regard to the possible rehabilitation of criminals and outdated moral concepts were eliminated. There were also new environmental and white- collar crimes . The ban on pornography was relaxed and criminal liability for blasphemy , adultery and homosexuality was lifted. After heated debates, Section 218 of the Penal Code was modified into a far-reaching indication regulation for abortion . The age of majority was lowered from 21 to 18 years. In general, there was a tendency towards the liberalization of domestic politics. In the course of the emerging RAF terrorism, there were some intensifications towards the end of the 1970s, e.g. B. the dragnet and the subsequent standardization of the registration laws through the registration law framework law .

Public spending on education has increased enormously. With the help of the BAföG introduced in 1971, the financially weak should be supported in training and studies. However, a comprehensive educational reform failed because of the resistance of the CDU to the comprehensive school and because of the cultural sovereignty of the federal states . Only the upper school level was reformed by offering basic and advanced courses and grading with points between 0 and 15 instead of grades as before. The curricula have also been updated to include new content. Numerous new universities of applied sciences and the vocational academies emerged as types of academic training. Since 1972, a numerus clausus has been required in some subjects to limit the number of students.

The new government had difficulties in pushing through its plans. On the one hand they were hindered by the Bundesrat , where the CDU had the majority in the state parliaments, on the other hand several reforms had to be improved due to the conservative attitude of the Federal Constitutional Court.

Willy Brandt took paths of rapprochement and reconciliation with the Eastern Bloc countries and tried to normalize relations with the so-called Eastern treaties under the motto "change through rapprochement". At a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising , Brandt knelt to commemorate the dead. The image of the “ Warsaw kneeling ” went around the world. The Hallstein Doctrine was gradually abandoned from the late 1960s and the two German states came closer. In March 1970, Chancellor Brandt and the Prime Minister of the GDR , Willi Stoph , met for the first German-German summit in Erfurt and then in Kassel in May . In the period that followed, the Federal Republic, the GDR and the victorious powers signed treaties to normalize relations between the two German states. On September 18, 1973, the Federal Republic and the GDR were admitted to the UN .

The opposition in the German Bundestag did not find a unified position either on this issue or on the basic treaty with the GDR, which ultimately led to the resignation of the Union parliamentary group leader Rainer Barzel . The new Ostpolitik of the Brandt era continued to provoke strong resistance from the opposition, which spoke of a sell-out of German interests. The Eastern treaties were only ratified in the Bundestag with difficulty.

Between August 26 and September 11, 1972, the XX. Summer Olympics in Munich , which were overshadowed by the fatal kidnapping of the Olympic Village by Palestinian terrorists from the Black September organization. Israeli athletes were taken hostage and a total of 17 people died trying to free them. As a result of the events, the GSG 9 was founded as a special intervention force of the Federal Border Guard.

In October 1973 the oil crisis hit Germany hard. In reaction to the lost Yom Kippur War with Israel, the OPEC extraction cartel imposed an oil embargo on states they believed supported Israel. At that time, the proportion of crude oil produced by the OPEC countries was far higher than it is today, so that there were drastic increases in the price of crude oil. In order to avoid supply bottlenecks, a restriction on the delivery volume at petrol stations of 20 liters per refueling operation and a weekend driving ban on four Sundays in November and December 1973 was imposed. A long-lasting recession began in Germany with the oil crisis. At the soccer World Cup in 1974 in their own country, West Germany became world champion, although they had lost in the preliminary round to the East German team.

After individual members of parliament left the government coalition because of criticism of Ostpolitik, there was a constructive vote of no confidence in the Bundestag in April 1972, with the CDU chairman Barzel being elected chancellor. This failed because the necessary number of votes was not reached. However, since it was not clear whether the government could still rely on a majority in parliament and in order to clear the way for new elections, the SPD/FDP coalition allowed a vote of confidence from the federal government to fail. In the federal elections in November 1972, the SPD became the strongest parliamentary group for the first time, and this strengthened the coalition. In June 1973, former CDU member of parliament Julius Steiner claimed to have been bribed during the no-confidence vote. The Bundestag set up a committee of inquiry into the Steiner-Wienand affair , but this was unsuccessful. In April 1974, the Federal Chancellery employee Günter Guillaume was exposed as a GDR spy. As a result, Willy Brandt resigned on May 6 for allegedly being open to blackmail as a result of the “ Guillaume affair ”. Finance Minister Helmut Schmidt became his successor as Federal Chancellor. The previous Federal Foreign Minister , Walter Scheel , was elected Federal President to succeed Gustav Heinemann , who did not stand again .

In the wake of the extra-parliamentary opposition, two left-wing extremist terrorist groups emerged: the 2nd of June Movement and the Red Army Faction (RAF). The controversial radical decree was issued in January 1972 primarily to combat the RAF , a ban on civil servants with extremist mindsets in the civil service, which, however, was often misused, with membership in organizations being considered sufficient evidence. The wave of terror by the RAF reached its peak in 1977 in the so-called “ German Autumn ”. After the murders of Siegfried Buback and Jürgen Ponto , members of the RAF kidnapped employer president Hanns Martin Schleyer on September 5 . To lend weight to their demands, allied Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Lufthansa aircraft "Landshut" on October 14. However, the federal government did not respond to the blackmail, but had the "Landshut" stormed by GSG-9 officers at Mogadishu airport , freeing all passengers. Shortly thereafter, Schleyer was murdered by the RAF and the imprisoned left-wing terrorists took their own lives in Stammheim prison.

On August 1, 1975, the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) was signed in Helsinki . The European states thus underlined their intensified efforts to reach an understanding. This final act and the appeal of civil rights groups in the GDR to the rights guaranteed there were to have a lasting impact on German-German relations up to the turning point of 1989 . The opposition from the CDU/CSU rejected the final act, as they had previously done with the Eastern treaties, primarily with reference to excessive concessions to the Eastern bloc countries.

Helmut Schmidt won the federal elections in 1976 against Helmut Kohl and in 1980 against Franz Josef Strauss . In 1979, the CDU candidate Karl Carstens was elected Federal President. In view of the hardening fronts in the East-West conflict caused by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the unrest in Poland , Schmidt continued the German-German rapprochement efforts. In December 1981 he came to visit East Germany. During the talks in Güstrow near Teterow in Mecklenburg , the city was cordoned off by the NVA to prevent sympathy rallies towards the Federal Chancellor, such as during Willy Brandt's visit to Erfurt in 1970.

After the NATO double-track decision in December 1979 on medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, the peace movement grew . The dual resolution was increasingly rejected in the SPD, but Schmidt stuck to it. These contradictory positions and growing unemployment and national debt alienated the coalition partners. On September 17, 1982, the coalition broke up and the SPD set up its own cabinet. On October 1, the Bundestag overthrew Helmut Schmidt through the election of Kohl as part of the turnaround in Bonn : government power changed to the conservative-liberal coalition.

Society of the 1970s and 1980s

With the 1968 movement came a new lifestyle. The Sexual Revolution , made possible by the birth control pill , had a particularly lasting effect in the media . The budding women's movement did not meet with unreserved approval from the spokesmen of the 1968 movement. A well-known example of the attempt to master the new lifestyle not only theoretically was Commune I. The march through the institutions , which was also propagated at the time , led decades later to a generation that had achieved key positions in German politics, in the press and in the civil service.

The Beatles caused hysteria among young people. But other bands such as The Rolling Stones , The Doors and Janis Joplin also enjoyed success. It was the time of hippies , flower power girls, drug use and free love . When the immune deficiency AIDS first appeared in the 1980s , it triggered great concern across the country and across the supposed target groups.

Dealing with RAF terrorism led to the Radical Decree . At the end of the 1970s there were constant calls for it to be tightened and for the persecution of "sympathizers". In the short novel The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum , Heinrich Böll accused the tabloid press , but above all the Bild newspaper , of character assassination and violation of human rights. Böll's book was immediately filmed by Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta . The multi-part television series Holocaust - The History of the White Family , which was broadcast on German television in January 1979, sparked renewed debate about the Nazi past. A legislative proposal in the Bundestag aimed to limit the criminal liability of crimes during the National Socialist era . With Karl Carstens , the election of an arch-conservative and former NSDAP member as Federal President was imminent. His NSDAP membership was addressed by Claus Peymann , the director of the Stuttgart State Theater, through the performance of Thomas Bernhard 's play Before Retiring. The Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, Hans Filbinger , forced Peymann's dismissal, but had to leave office before Peymann. Rolf Hochhuth had announced a new play dealing with the death sentences that Filbinger, as a naval judge, had imposed on German soldiers in the final days of World War II.

Above all, the intervention of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan , Solidarność in Poland and the NATO double-track decision gave rise to an unprecedented peace movement with numerous mass demonstrations. Concern for the environment was also becoming an issue. In addition to the peace movement, an environmental movement developed that wanted to bring environmental policy to bear more. This movement gave rise to the Greens party , which entered the Bundestag for the first time in 1983 and has been able to establish itself in the political system ever since . After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, parts of the population viewed nuclear energy negatively, and since then alternative energy sources have been demanded and promoted. There was resistance to nuclear reprocessing plants and repositories: the Gorleben interim storage facility repeatedly made the headlines when it came to the transport of nuclear waste. In 1984 the unions forced the introduction of the 38.5-hour week as a compromise to their demand for a 35-hour week. In the last years of the old Federal Republic it became clear that numerous areas had to be reformed, but little was done. The reform backlog was stylized by the opposition as a trademark of the government and unemployment became a portent for many .

Up until the early 1980s, German -language songs from punk and new wave music were popular with teens thanks to Neue Deutsche Welle . After the legal requirements were in place, the first private television channels went on the air on January 1st and 2nd, 1984. RTL and PKS, predecessors of Sat.1 , emerged. In May 1987, Eureka TV , the forerunner of ProSieben , came into existence .

Kohl government (1982 to 1998)

Helmut Kohl , who had been elected chancellor in October 1982 by the only successful constructive vote of no confidence to date, wanted to confirm this change of government with a new election. For this reason, the Bundestag, after consultation, refused to trust him in a constitutionally controversial manner ; new elections were announced. The CDU won the federal elections in March 1983, and for the first time the Greens entered parliament as a political force . In 1984, the Flick party donation scandal shook politics. Also in that year, Richard von Weizsäcker was elected Federal President. He was held in high esteem, also for his speech on the 40th anniversary of the end of the war . In 1983/1984, the Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauss granted the GDR billions in loans, with the support of the federal government, which delayed its decline.

The reactor accident in Chernobyl in April 1986 also shook the Federal Republic and led to the establishment of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety . Kohl won the federal election in 1987 again, and that year Erich Honecker , the first GDR head of state, paid a state visit to the Federal Republic . The spying on the SPD candidate Björn Engholm in the state elections in Schleswig-Holstein by the CDU Prime Minister Uwe Barschel caused a nationwide sensation. Barschel died a few weeks later, the circumstances of his death are still unclear to this day.

The Federal Government renewed its close political relations with the French President François Mitterrand through the founding of the Eurocorps , the Schengen Agreement in 1985 and the many years of preparatory work for the founding of the television channel ARTE .

The second half of the 1980s was characterized by a policy of detente by the superpowers, which was primarily a consequence of the perestroika (restructuring policy) of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev , who visited the Federal Republic in June 1989.

Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker was re-elected in 1989 .

With Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maizière , Kohl achieved the approval of the Four Powers for the reunification of Germany in 1990 in the so-called two-plus-four talks . On January 17, 1991, the Bundestag elected Kohl Chancellor for the fourth time.

German unity 1990

As early as the 1980s, the reception camps in the Federal Republic were noticeably filled with emigrants and GDR citizens.
October 1990 in Berlin

After Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the CPSU, the relationship between the superpowers relaxed. His reform programs perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (transparency) from 1985 were a major impetus for the subsequent turnaround and peaceful revolution in the GDR . GDR citizens vehemently demanded that the political course be aligned with that of the USSR, which had already played a pioneering role as the “motherland” of communism. But the “old men” such as B. Honecker refused to drive this course. Gorbachev also made it clear that the USSR would no longer intervene in other states, as it did in 1953, when the Red Army bloodily crushed a popular uprising in the GDR. This was another reason for GDR citizens to take to the streets to demonstrate in mass demonstrations for German reunification. During a state visit, Gorbachev said, according to the live translation of an interpreter, into the running cameras of journalists:

“I believe dangers only await those who do not respond to life. And anyone who takes up the impulses emanating from life – the impulses emanating from society and designs his politics accordingly, shouldn’t have any difficulties, that’s a normal phenomenon.”

This was later often rendered as "He who comes too late is punished by life", a formulation which actually goes back to Gennady Ivanovich Gerasimov .

Since 1988 there have been signs of dissolution in the Eastern bloc . In the People's Republic of Poland, for example, Solidarność's efforts to secure trade union freedoms, which had existed since the early 1980s, could no longer be suppressed. Other peoples who had previously been held together by force in the Warsaw Pact were also striving for freedom. When the People's Republic of Hungary dismantled the border fortifications with Austria , GDR citizens fled to the Federal Republic via these states. At the Pan-European Picnic on August 19, 1989, the first large mass exodus of GDR citizens across the Iron Curtain took place. By occupying the West German embassy in Budapest, they tried to force them to leave Germany. The GDR government yielded to this pressure on August 23, and similar events took place in the following weeks in the West German embassies in Warsaw , Prague and the permanent representation in East Berlin. After Czechoslovakia opened its borders in September, there was a veritable stream of refugees into the Federal Republic. The Politburo responded on November 9, 1989 by opening the Berlin Wall and opening the inner-German border ; The form of opening arose from a misunderstanding in internal government communication when Politburo member Günter Schabowski presented the new travel regulations at the press conference of the Central Committee of the SED in the International Press Center.

At the beginning of 1990 talks began between the Federal Government and the GDR government about German unity. Talks between Kohl and Gorbachev followed in February, culminating in the Caucasus on July 16 . On May 18th, the Treaty on Monetary, Economic and Social Union was signed, which came into force on July 1st. On August 23, both German parliaments decided on the date of unification. In September, the Four Powers agreed to the emergence of a united Germany with the Two Plus Four Treaty , dissolved all remaining Allied institutions and released Germany into full sovereignty . On October 3, 1990, the German Democratic Republic joined the (now "extended") Federal Republic of Germany and with it German unity. The five new German states were incorporated into the federation, and at the same time East and West Berlin were combined into a unified federal state of Berlin .

Terms "Bonner", "Berliner" and the "second German republic"

The designation of the West German sub -state from 1949 to 1990 as the Bonn Republic was established at the same time as the Berlin Republic for the following historical phase. The analogy to the term “ Weimar Republic ”, which only referred to the place where the constitution was made, can be explained by the fact that it has nevertheless “[been] naturalized in Germany since the Weimar period, the democratically constituted republics each to be marked with the name of the city in which the government and parliament are seated".

Before German reunification, “second republic” was another well-known term for this period. The "first republic" in turn means the Weimar Republic. Sometimes the "old Federal Republic" is spoken of in contrast to the "Berlin Republic" from 1990 onwards. For the area of ​​the former East German part of the state, the term " new countries " is also common today.

See also


web links


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  2. The Bavarian State Parliament. A Chronicle , p. 58 ff. (PDF; 6 MB).
  3. Franz Schneider, The meaning of Article 178 BV for German reunification and for constitutional revisions of reunited Germany (= legal research and development; vol. 541), VVF, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-89481-241-9 , p. 36 .
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  5. Walter Ziegler : Refugees and expellees. In: Historical Encyclopedia of Bavaria , November 6, 2011.
  6. Documents on German policy , II. Series, Volume 3, January 1 to December 31, 1950. Published documents - Unpublished documents (special cover) , ISBN 3-486-56172-3 , p. 603.
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  8. Correspondence on the national anthem of 1952 - The Deutschlandlied is the national anthem. An exchange of letters between Federal President Theodor Heuss and Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer ( memento of 11 January 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (Bulletin of the Federal Government, No. 51/p. 537 of 6 May 1952), website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior .
  9. Michael Gehler : Germany. From division to unification. 1945 to today. Böhlau, Vienna/Cologne/Weimar 2010, p. 166 f. (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  10. Cf. 50 years of the central office of KDV ( memento of October 11, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).
  11. Frieder Günther: Heuss on trips. The foreign representation of the Federal Republic by the first Federal President . Steiner, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-515-08819-9 , p. 84 .
  12. Werner Abelshauser, German Economic History. From 1945 to the present. Munich 2011, p. 115 ff.
  13. Werner Abelshauser, German Economic History. From 1945 to the present. Munich 2011, p. 119.
  14. Werner Abelshauser, German Economic History. From 1945 to the present. Munich 2011, p. 153.
  15. Franziska Augstein: The silent guest - How do you write contemporary German history? , in: Süddeutsche Zeitung of January 27, 2012.
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  19. Helge Batt, A Question of Trust. The premature dissolution of parliament between a legal claim and a political dispute , in: Christoph Egle, Reimut Zohlnhöfer (ed.): End of the red-green project. A balance sheet of the Schröder government 2002-2005 , VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007, p. 64.
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