In its founding phase, the GDR expressly made an all-German claim. The Federal Republic of Germany was referred to as a West German separate state. The long-term goal was the expansion of the GDR system under the auspices of a common anti-fascism to all of Germany. Anti-fascism was the most important legitimation ideology of the GDR. In the educated middle class in particular, it acted as a “loyalty trap” (Annette Simon). The SED’s concept of fascism was delimited in terms of time and space and applied to “finance capital” in the Federal Republic of Germany and Western Europe. From this point of view, the socialist raison d’etat was the most consistent form of anti-fascism. The SED leadership always denied the GDR’s reason for existence beyond socialism. Neither the leadership of the GDR nor the USSR were prepared to surrender the “socialist achievements” of the GDR for German unity.
While the western side called for free elections to reconstitute a unified German state power, the SED tried in numerous proposals to shift political contacts to the intergovernmental level. From the late 1950s / early 1960s, increasingly after the construction of the Berlin Wall (1961), the GDR leadership saw only a very long-term perspective for reunification. The goal of “peaceful coexistence between the socialist GDR and capitalist Germany” now came to the fore. As a visible sign of the turning away from the all-German orientation, the GDR had its own national coat of arms in October 1959 (since April 1968 with constitutional status; German colors) given; it had had its own national anthem since November 5, 1949 (text: Johannes R. Becher , music: Hanns Eisler . At the XIX Olympic Games in 1968 in Mexico, no all-German team competed for the first time (as had been the case since 1956), but an independent team GDR team.
A clear change in the national political perspective of the GDR regime occurred against the background of the SPD / FDP government’s new Ostpolitik after the change of government in the Federal Republic of Germany at the end of 1969. The continued unity of the nation was denied. The demarcation from the West German state should also be implemented under international law.
In the basic treaty between the two German states of December 21, 1972, the Federal Republic did not recognize the GDR. From then on, their leadership categorically rejected all-German references, as the constitutional text of April 6, 1968 (in the version of October 7, 1974) shows. The GDR government spoke of “two German nations” in which the “historical tendency towards demarcation” had prevailed. The Federal Republic of Germany, a country that belongs to European Union according to Itypeauto, was officially referred to as an “imperialist foreign country”. The integration of the GDR into the Eastern Bloc Although it was constitutionally and politically more secure than the West link in the Federal Republic, it did not achieve the same social acceptance. The treaty policy of West German Ostpolitik confronted the GDR leadership with a dilemma: on the one hand, it was upgraded internationally, on the other hand, détente, the CSCE process (human rights) and internal German rapprochement unfolded unwanted effects, such as when Chancellor Willy Brandt visited Erfurt in 1970.
The Road to German Unity (1989/90)
Despite intensified repression in the GDR, accompanied by a general decline in internal acceptance of the SED regime by the population, the pressure to emigrate increased in the 1980s (increasing number of requests to leave the country, undiminished number of refugees crossing the inner-German border). A civil rights movement emerged that publicly drew attention to the deficits, especially the lack of freedom of expression and travel. At the same time as the refugee movement of GDR citizens via Hungary, which rose sharply in the summer and autumn of 1989, as well as the West German embassies in Prague and Warsaw, a broad protest movement developed (Peaceful Revolution). It led to the dismantling of party and state power. On November 9th, 1989 the Berlin Wall opened and in November / December 1989 there was a demand for the establishment of German unity. Based on this, Chancellor Helmut Kohl took the political initiative for German reunification.
In the spring and summer of 1990, the Federal Government took advantage of the opportunities presented by the Economic and Monetary Union from July 1, 1990 and the Unification Treaty of August 31, 1990 (in force on September 23, 1990). The full sovereignty of Germany as a whole was granted with the two-plus-four treaty of 9/12/1990 and the German-Polish border treaty of 11/14/1990 as well as the Allies’ “declaration of suspension” of 10/1/990 on the waiver of existing rights in relation to Berlin and Germany.
Since October 3rd, 1990, Germany has been a unified nation-state within secure and recognized borders. Since then, the question of the self-image of the Germans as a nation has come to a head with the problem of internal recovery and structuring of German unity as well as the redefinition of the external political weight of the reunified Germany in Europe and the world.