ICD Program for Human Rights and Global Peace

20th Anniversary of German Reunification

20th Anniversary of German Reunification

From a Divided Country to a Unified Country

As the allied powers gathered at Potsdam in July of 1945 to negotiate the terms that would bring the Second World War to a close, Germany faced an uncertain future. Confronted with the failure of the Nazi regime and shouldering the responsibility for the years of war and genocide that had marked Europe and the world, Germany stood to be partitioned and to have its territory occupied by the powers that had put an end to the bloodshed. Over the next forty-four years, Germany would struggle to rebuild its identity and reconcile itself with its past whilst remaining a divided nation. Ideologically, politically and physically, the barriers that divided Germany over these years would shape the evolution of its post-war identity - an identity that, in 1989, would be given a peaceful revolutionary voice in the declaration of ?Ein Volk? and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The building of the Berlin Wall on August 13th 1961 represented the culmination of over a decade of hardening relations between Allied occupied Germany and the territories of the Soviet Union. The first indication of the instability of relations between the East and the West and the genesis of the Cold War had come thirteen years earlier, when the success of the Berlin Blockade proved to the Soviet Union how limited their control was over the segregated zones of the city. August 1961 also saw the Wall claim its first victim ? 24-year-old Günter Litfin, shot dead by police whilst trying to cross the boundary.

Over the four decades of the Cold War, the physical division of the city of Berlin came to symbolise the diplomatic and political standoff between East and West. Over the twenty-five years that followed Kennedy?s visit to the city in 1963, the relationship between the Eastern German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany of the West improved slowly. However, it was not until 1987, with President Reagan?s declaration of ?Mr. Gorbachev, tear down these walls?, that Western policies towards the Soviet Union began to bear fruit.

The reunification of Germany on October 3rd 1990 marked a new stage in the evolution of Germany?s national identity. It was one based upon repudiation of violence and oppression, conscious of the divisions wrought by the preceding decades, but also determined to move forward in unity.

"From a Divided Country to a Unified Country": 1945 - 1990 the Path to German Reunification


May 9, 1945

The War is Over


July 17- August 2, 1945

Potsdam Conference and the future of Germany


June 20, 1948

New currency in the West brings prosperity


June 24, 1948

The Berlin Blockade


May 23, 1949

The Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany


October 9, 1949

The foundation of the second German state, the German Democratic Republic


May 27, 1952

The DDR seals its western border


September 10, 1952

The Luxemburg Agreement


March 5, 1953

Stalin, the Red Dictator dies


June 17, 1953

GDR uprisings of discontent


October 23, 1954

FDR joins NATO


May 14, 1955

The signing of the Warsaw Pact


September 9 - 13, 1956

Adenauer's diplomatic talks with the Soviet Union


May 25, 1957

The establishment of the EEC


August 13, 1961

The Berlin Wall is built


August 22, 1961

The first victim of the Wall dies


October 27, 1961

The Checkpoint Charlie standoff


June 16, 1963

Kennedy and his speech in Berlin


August 21, 1968

The Prague Spring Uprising is suppressed


March 19, 1970

FDR Chancellor makes a diplomatic visit to the DDR


December 7, 1970

Willy Brandt and the Kniefall


December 21, 1972

The Basic Treaty and the improvement of diplomatic relations between the two Germanies


June 22, 1974

FDR ? DDR, 0:1


October 10, 1981

Anti-Nuclear demonstrations in Bonn


March 11, 1985

Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power


June 12, 1987

Reagan's iconic speech


May 2, 1989

Hungary opens its border to Austria


May 7, 1989

The communal elections farce


September 4, 1989

The Monday Demonstrations

September 30, 1989

GDR?s days are numbered as they grant exit visas


October 7, 1989

40 year anniversary of the DDR


November 9, 1989

The fall of the Berlin Wall


July 16, 1990

The making of the future at Hunting Lodge


August 23, 1990

The vote for reunification


September 12, 1990

The 2 + 4 Treaty


October 3, 1990

German Reunification Day