"Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt Euch!"
("Workers of all nations, unite !")
"Auferstanden aus Ruinen"
("Risen from Ruins")
|Language(s)||Official: German |
Unofficial minority languages: Sorbian
|Chairman of the Council of State|
|- 1949–60||Wilhelm Pieck (President)|
|- 1960–73||Walter Ulbricht|
|- 1973–76||Willi Stoph|
|- 1976–89||Erich Honecker|
|- 1989||Egon Krenz|
|- 1989–90||Manfred Gerlach|
|Chairman of the Council of Ministers|
|- 1949–64||Otto Grotewohl|
|- 1964–73||Willi Stoph|
|- 1973–76||Horst Sindermann|
|- 1976–89||Willi Stoph|
|- 1989–90||Hans Modrow|
|- 1990||Lothar de Maizière|
|Historical era||Cold War|
|- 1990||108333 km2 (41828 sq mi)|
|- 1990 est.||16111000|
|Density||148.7 /km2 (385.2 /sq mi)|
|Currency||Mark der DDR (M) until 30 June 1990, named:|
1948–64 Deutsche Mark (DM)
1964–67 Mark der Deutschen Notenbank (MDN)
Deutsche Mark (DM) as of 1 July 1990
|Today part of||Germany|
|1 Although .dd was reserved as corresponding ISO code for East Germany, it was not entered to the root before the country was disestablished.|
|2 Country code +37 was withdrawn in 1992; the numbers range was divided into ten new country codes, re-allocated among several post-Soviet states and European microstates.|
The German Democratic Republic (GDR; German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR), informally called East Germany (German: Ost-Deutschland) by West Germany and other countries, was the socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany and in the East Berlin portion of the Allied-occupied capital city. The German Democratic Republic, which consisted geographically of northeast Germany rather than all of eastern Germany, had an area of 107,771 km2 (41,610 mi2), bordering Czechoslovakia in the south, West Germany (officially: Federal Republic of Germany) in the south and west, the Baltic Sea to the north, and Poland in the east.
At German reunification on October 3, 1990, the Länder (states) of East Germany were integrated as new federal states to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). Moreover, the German Democratic Republic was disestablished after the Communist government, of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), lost the general election on March 18, 1990, and thus its parliamentary majority in the Volkskammer (People’s Chamber); subsequently, on August 23, 1990, the Volkskammer re-established the five pre-war states — Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia (disestablished in 1952) — for the reunification of East Germany to West Germany.
The official name was Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic), usually abbreviated as DDR (GDR). Both terms were used in East Germany with an increasing emphasis on the abbreviated name, especially since East Germany considered West Germans and West Berliners as foreigners following its second constitution in 1968.
Ostzone (Eastern Zone) or Soviet Zone were two surrogate names for East Germany that were often used colloquially. The different names used to describe the German Democratic Republic reflected political positions during the Cold War conflict; for example, many Westerners doubted the political sovereignty and democratic constitution of East Germany. Surrogate name usage for East Germany could thus reveal the political leaning of a person or news source. So the media controlled by the East German government emphasised the use of the official name, DDR, while West Germans, western media and statesmen may have used other names such as Middle Germany, emphasising the location of East Germany in the centre of pre-1937 Germany.
The name, Sowjetische Besatzungszone (Soviet Occupation Zone, often abbreviated to SBZ) was used by those who wanted to indicate that East Germany lacked sovereignty, whereas others used Ostzone or der Osten (English: Eastern Zone or the East) to avoid the actual name of the state. The latter term, because it was based plainly on geographic location, was sometimes also used by East Germans. Some West German media referred to East Germany initially as the SBZ and later consistently named it the so-called "GDR" (sogenannte "DDR").
However, over time East Germany's abbreviation DDR became colloquial also among most West Germans and West German media. Ostdeutschland (an ambiguous term meaning simultaneously East or Eastern Germany) was not commonly used in East or West German common parlance to refer to the German Democratic Republic, because Ostdeutschland usually referred to the Former eastern territories of Germany.
The term Westdeutschland (West Germany) when used by West Germans was almost always a reference to the geographic region of Western Germany but not to the area within the boundaries of the Federal Republic of Germany. However, this usage was not always consistent, as, for example, West Berliners frequently applied the term Westdeutschland to denote the Federal Republic.
Explaining the internal impact of the DDR regime from the perspective of German history in the long-term, historian Gerhard A. Ritter (2002) has argued that the East German state was defined by two dominant forces - Soviet Communism on the one hand, and German traditions filtered through the interwar experiences of German Communists on the other. It always was constrained by the powerful example of the increasingly prosperous West, to which East Germans compared their nation. The changes wrought by the Communists were most apparent in ending capitalism and transforming industry, agriculture, in the militarization the society, and the political thrust of the educational system and the media. On the other hand, there was relatively little change made in the historically independent domains of the sciences, the engineering professions, the Protestant churches, and in many bourgeois life styles. Social policy, says Ritter, became a critical legitimization tool in the last decades and mixed Communist and traditional elements about equally.
At the Yalta Conference during World War II, the Allies (U.S., Britain, and the Soviet Union) agreed on dividing a defeated Germany into occupation zones, and on dividing Berlin, the German capital, among the Allied powers as well. Initially this meant the construction of three zones of occupation, i.e. American, British, and Soviet. Later, a French zone was carved out of the American and British zones.