Known as East Germany to those living in the West, the German Democratic Republic was a satellite-state of the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1990. The GDR governed the portion of Germany which had been occupied by Soviets when Hitler’s regime fell. It was almost like USSR-lite.
During the Cold War, East Germany became a primary front. West Germany was heavily influenced by the Allies. East Germany was very much a proxy for the Soviets. The enduring symbol of this divide was the Berlin Wall, which physically separated the two nations. It was a time of cultural conflict. The two superpowers engaged in the Cold War (the US and USSR) battled for the hearts and minds of German citizens.
Thus for those living in East-Germany, life was incredibly bizarre. For example: the GDR’s zone of control surrounded West Berlin, but did not include it. Therefore West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR. In the West, capitalism went unchecked. Meanwhile in the GDR, central-planning dictated the economy.
As time went on, East German culture increasingly defined itself by opposition to the West. Harsh and heavy-handed censorship helped to enshrine this distinction, as officials made efforts to ban any positive impression of Western values. In turn, huge and profitable blackmarkets developed to trade in Western-developed goods.
In any case, the East German saga eventually ended with the reunification of Germany. East and West joined together again in 1990, just three years after Ronald Reagan’s famous speech (“Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”). Contrary to popular belief, however, actual demolition on the wall didn’t officially end until 1992. Not that it mattered. The ideological separation of Germany ended when the first brick came down.
To this day, the fall of East Germany lasts as an example of the power of peaceful civic resistance to tyrannical rule.
Thanks for watching.
More from Factinate
Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your time!
Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at email@example.com. Thanks for your help!
The Factinate team