West Germany


May 22, 2022

West Germany was an informal term used for the Federal Republic of Germany during the Cold War from 1949 to 1990. West Germany was formed in the areas that at the end of World War II were controlled by the Western Allied powers, and was a liberal democratic state that was member of NATO in 1955. The term West Germany was very common outside Germany, but somewhat less used in Germany itself, where the authorities preferred the official name. The country was also often only called Germany, especially if it appeared from the context that it was about the western part, for example a combination with a city name as in "Hamburg, Germany". The state had its counterpart in the German Democratic Republic (GDR, "East Germany") which was a communist dictatorship formed in the Soviet occupation zone and which became a member of the Warsaw Pact. West Berlin was in practice considered part of West Germany, but had a special status. West Germany was reunited with the Saarland in 1957 and reunited with the territory of the former German Democratic Republic in 1990. The informal term "West Germany" has since been used only as a purely geographical term for those parts of Germany that belonged to the political West. -Germany during the Cold War.


The term "West Germany" is used in the historical context of the state in the period from 1949 to 1990. After this, the term went out of use other than as a geographical or social term. In a geographical sense, the term West Germany is used for the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, but the term can also be used for all the states that were previously part of the political West Germany, ie in addition to the mentioned states also Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Bremen and Lower Saxony (which geographically belong to northern Germany) and Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg (geographical southern Germany). West Germany was no other state than today's Germany. The reunification in 1990 therefore did not involve any change of name or state identity, but an integration of the territory into the already dissolved, former GDR in the state that already existed in West Germany. Constitutionally, the Federal Republic of Germany has always been the same state, both before and after the two territorial reunifications. The Federal Republic of Germany also emphasizes its constitutional identity as identical with the German Reich founded in 1871, or legally strictly speaking through the establishment of the Northern German Confederation in 1867, which has been established by the Bundesverfassungsgericht a number of times, and which is also expressed through the fact that the legislation of the German Empire continued to apply unless it was changed and that West Germany was a party to the international law agreements entered into by the German Empire (among these, the national concordateau with the Vatican is one of the best known), in contrast to the GDR .

West Berlin

West Berlin (formally: Berlin or Greater Berlin, Groß-Berlin) was according to its constitution (Verfassung von Berlin of 1 September 1950) and decision of the German Constitutional Court 21 May 1957 a state in the Federal Republic of Germany, but since then "Until further notice" was not accepted by the occupying forces, West Berlin functioned as a quasi-independent unit, which had close ties to West Germany and was treated by both West German authorities and the local authorities in West Berlin as a state. This meant that the inhabitants of West Berlin received West German citizenship and that West Berlin indirectly implemented all West German legislation and sent representatives to the Bundestag and the Federal Council. For example. a representative of West Berlin was elected German president in 1984. It was thus only outside West Germany and West Berlin (especially in the Eastern Bloc) that West Berlin was not considered part of West Germany.

See also

German reunification Germany's political system