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German Reunification in 1990

The division of Germany in post-war Europe was at the heart of the Cold War itself. Germany was divided, just as the European continent and a large part of the world, between a capitalist, free West and a communist, totalitarian East.

Why did German reunification happen at all? Was this inevitable? Or was it in many ways an unlikely event given East Germany's status in the eyes of the Soviets - particularly its role as the centerpiece in the Soviet satellite system paid for with lives of millions of Soviet citizens during WWII?

Some of the reasons for German reunification are discussed in the following text, accompanied by a brief bibliography for students.

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Examine the reasons for the reunification of Germany in 1990

underlying reasons

Ostpolitk - in truth, Ostpolitik had an ambivalent effect on German unification. West German acceptance of East Germany legitimized it and effectively embraced the post-war territorial status quo. Ostpolitik more or less put unification on the back burner, as evident in the atititudes of most German politicians on both sides of the wall in early 1989. In many ways, the expanded trade and credit with East Germany gave the communist regime an added lease on life.

However, East Germans were allowed to travel in increasing numbers due to the thaw in relations from Ostpolitik and they were increasingly aware of how much better their cousins had it - both economically and politically. EG was also growing economically dependent on WG and Chancellor Helmut Kohl would later use this to great advantage.

East German Economy - EG had been held up as the most prosperous Soviet satellite state, but this masked the true situation regarding its economy. EG was living beyond its means and the GDR owed $26.5 billion to West by 1989 and had a current account deficit for 1989 of $12.1 billion. In November alone, 1% of its population went West. It could not pay its workers anything near what they could make in the West.

Soviet Economy - Kohl meets with Gorbachev in Feb 1990 just weeks after the delivery of massive shipments of food aid. Stresses economic advantage of USSR cooperation- GDR defaulting on delivery of manufactured ...

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Resources related to this topic are included.