Today In History: West Germany Established

May 23, 2018 | Matt

May 23, 1949

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Today in 1949, three of the four Allied Zones of occupation in Germany, constituted of eleven separate states, were formally unified under the government of The Federal Republic of Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany, commonly referred to as “West Germany,” divided from the Soviet-controlled Eastern sector that would shortly become the German Democratic Republic.

Today in 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was announced at a meeting of the West German Parliamentary Council. “Today a new Germany arises,” announced council president Konrad Adenauer to a melancholic room. It marked the death of the dream, widely held, that the four Allied Zones of occupation would be unified into a single German state. These hopes were dashed by Cold War hardliners. It was clear that Germany would be a divided nation for the foreseeable future.


In response, the German Democratic Republic was announced the following October. Divided Berlin became a global symbol of the ideological and physical standoff between the Capitalist West and Socialist East. It was not until 1990 that the border was fully dissolved.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 presaged the decline of the Soviet Union and eventual triumph of Western capitalism and democracy. It ushered in an era of capitalist triumphalism, in which public figures declared a social-democracy-tempered capitalism the ultimate model of political organization. Francis Fukuyama dubbed it the “End of History.”

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