German Reunification Explained

German Reunification Explained


German Reunification almost didn’t happen. It was opposed by nearly all world leaders. But there was one man who made it happen,
one who convinced everybody, one man who vowed that Germany. Will. Be. United. After the Second World War, Germany was split
into several regions. What is often overlooked is that Germany was
not separated into 4 regions, but into 7. The four you probably heard about are these
four occupation zones: This part was put under British control, this part under Soviet control,
this part under USA’s control, and this part under French control. Berlin was further divided amongst these four
powers. But there are three more regions. The first is this small area which became
the Saar Protectorate, whose people decided to rejoin West-Germany in the 1950s. Then there is this part, which today we call
Kaliningrad Oblast, and was annexed by the Soviet Union. It became part of the Soviet Union and wasn’t
just a country occupied by foreign powers, like the rest of Germany. This land was now Russian, these people were
now Russians, and their official language was now Russian. And lastly, this vast area of land was given
to Poland. Meaning these Germans, were now living in
Poland. Over time, the British, French, and USA’s
zones would become West-Germany and the Soviet zone became East-Germany. Because the Capitalist west and Communist
east were on opposite sides of a cold war, the two stayed separate countries. There wasn’t really any hope that Germany
will be united. Over time a wall was built between the two
Germanies to make sure people from the poorer east could not emigrate to the richer west. In the 1980s the economic and social differences
between the Capitalist West and the Communist east, were becoming apparent. Soon, peaceful protests broke out throughout
the communist East, including East-Germany. Then, on the evening of November 9, 1989,
the East-German press secretary made mistake that would change history
“We decided, today, to enact legislation that shall make it possible for every citizen,
to cross the border directly through the checkpoints of the GDR”
But he was wrong, in actuality, people could now apply to travel abroad in a few months,
not right away. But the words were said, the people had heard,
and thousands were flocking to the border crossings. Because the press secretary misspoke, people
thought the gate was open. Without receiving orders, the border guards
didn’t know what to do with the tens of thousands wanting to get through. And so, without being given orders to do so,
the border guards opened the gates and let the East-German masses through the gates. And so the wall fell, the division was over,
and a people were liberated. To the world, this signified the end of the
cold war. To Germany: a call to reunification. Germany will be united. Upon hearing of this news, the West-German
parliament began singing the German national anthem. But one person was notably missing, one person
who would change Germany forever, one person who would see to it that Germany will be united:
Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the leader of West-Germany. Helmut Kohl was in Poland at the time, celebrating
the first freely elected Polish government since World War Two. Kohl was surprisingly quiet when he heard
the news that the wall was open. He asked himself “what should I do now?”. This was a historic moment. If Germany was ever to become one country,
it would need to be now. So he rushed back home to Germany and began
writing a plan for German reunification. This plan was made in absolute secrecy, nobody,
not even his own government, knew what was going on except Kohl and those closest to
him. In fact, he had only sent the speech to other
world leaders an hour before he made it and he sent it in German only, so they wouldn’t
be able to stop his speech. And so, on 28. November 1989, a mere 19 days after the wall
fell, Kohl made his announcement. “The way to German unity, as we all know,
is not to be planned from behind a desk, or with an appointment book in the hand. One can utilize abstract models in a polemic
way, but they do not help. But we can, if we now want to, already prepare
those stages that lead to this goal.“ Germany. Will. be. United. This speech was very popular in West-Germany,
but caused major anxiety with the rest of the world leaders. You see, the British, French, United States,
and Soviet Union still had troops on German soil. And they had so called ‘reserved rights’
meaning these four countries had to allow German reunification. And all four powers were basically having
none of it. A unified Germany is a powerful Germany…
and a powerful Germany had been their enemy in 2 world wars. But Helmut Kohl was not deterred: Germany. Will. Be. United. So first up, Helmut Kohl had to convince East-Germany
to even WANT to join the west. Well, this was an easy task. Reunification was seen as an escape from poverty
and during the East-German election, the first and only free elections of East-Germany, Kohl
campaigned for pro-reunification parties and they won. So that’s one down. Now it’s time to convince the others because:
Germany. Will. Be. United. Next up was France, led by François Mitterrand. Germany was founded on the defeat of France
and historically the two had been rivals for control of Europe. A unified Germany would be economically, industrially,
and politically superior to France. But Mitterrand was crafting his own plan. Germany REALLY wanted reunification. He realized that by having this new powerful
Germany at their side with the rest of Europe at their back, it would have a big role to
play in world affairs. So Mitterrand demanded a bigger role for the
European Union: A single European army, European foreign policy, and a European currency. And we can see the results of this today:
Germany and France are the main deciding powers in the EU, the Euro gave France strong currency,
and with the UK leaving EU, the European army is finally being realized. And all this was EXACTLY what the British
did not want. The British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher,
lived through the Nazi air raids and she herself saved money to pay for a jewish girl to stay
with her family for sanctuary. She feared Germany would dominate Europe and
the UK over time. But
by this time the United Kingdom was no longer the superpower it was before the Second World
War. And by Thatcher’s own admission, The UK
had become the least important of the four powers and would eventually bow to the will
of the other three powers. At least France was now persuaded, if he could
get the other three powers to agree, maybe that was enough and he wouldn’t need Britain’s
approval. It was time for Kohl to move on to the next
power: The USA, led by President George Bush. Unlike the other three powers, the USA didn’t
really fear a powerful Germany. Afterall, Europe was an ocean away and wouldn’t
be able to cause too much trouble for America. This would, in fact, take a piece of territory
away from the USSR and would put distance between their European allies and Soviet troops. And it would put NATO troops slightly closer
to the Russian heartland. So… yay! That’s 2 of the 4 powers convinced. It really started to look like Germany will
be united. But now came the Soviet Union led by Secretary
General Mikhail Gorbachev. His would be a tough one: East-Germany was
seen as part of the Soviet empire. Gorbachev would not simply hand over a client
state to their rivals. Not only did the Soviets fear a powerful Germany,
it also feared British, French, and US troops moving into East-Germany, coming ever closer
to Moscow. But now we have to look at the rest of Europe,
particularly eastern Europe. Because, while East-Germany had been protesting,
the rest of USSR’s client states were in similar stages of revolution. Within two years, the Soviet Union itself
would collapse. Gorbachev was acutely aware of the state of
his country and needed money to push through economic reforms he hoped would modernize
the Soviet economy and, hopefully, keep the country together. East-Germany was broke and had to be kept
afloat by continuous money supplies from the USSR. So what if, he could SELL it to West-Germany,
he would lose his this large expense, gain some much needed income, and could gain this
new powerful Germany as an important ally in European politics. But there were some conditions: no NATO bases
in east-Germany and the Russian withdrawal was not allowed to be presented as a retreat. NATO agreed and so, West-Germany sent a delegation
to Moscow to discuss Germany giving loans to the Soviet Union in exchange for German
reunification. He did it! 3 of the 4 powers had agreed! The UK would soon join the other three and
Germany. Will. Be. United. But now came one very important question:
what territory does German reunification include? You see, large portions of land had been given
to Poland and the Soviet Union after WWII, Helmut Kohl wanted all these lands returned
as well: They were Germans, West-Germany had never given up its claim to these territories,
and they should be returned to Germany as well! It was one thing to ask for two countries
to become one, it was a whole other matter to demand Soviet and Polish territory to just
be handed over after 45 years. And so, the other four powers basically told
Helmut Kohl: it’s East-Germany or nothing. In the end Kohl relented. He agreed that the newly formed Germany would
relinquish all claims to Polish and Soviet territory in exchange for reunification. And so it was done. The Soviet Union pulled its forces back from
East-Germany in 1990, the four powers ended their occupation of the two Germanies, and
a single unified Germany had been born. It was time to party. Because: Germany. Had. Been. United!

16 thoughts on “German Reunification Explained

  • Sadly, the people living in Prussia didn't just get to be polish or Russian.. they were forced out of their homes and had to flee westwards. Do to the hard winter conditions many lost their lifes or were mistreated and murdered by Soviets

  • It was far more than one man, Helmut Kohl was merely in charge. What mattered most were the facts on the ground. With both East and West Germany wanting to be reunified it would have taken force to keep them apart. None of the powers were willing to use force to prevent it. Germany clearly changed a lot since 1945 and few people were that worried, at least militarily. US troops remained in Europe and could quickly bring things to a half on the long shot that Germany went berserk again. I don't think Kohl expected to get the other sections of Germany. He asked for them so he could concede them and present it as a concession.

  • The German terrotories retained by Soviet Union and Poland during reunification may one day become reason of dispute between Poland and Russia again. History often repeat itself.

  • Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united
    Germany will be united

  • Sorry… Germany is described in borders of 1937 which include big parts of Poland, so the word 'Reunifiaction' is false! The official term for what you describe 'Is the unification of the economic areas GDR and BRD'.

  • Was possible because of Regan and Gorbachev agreed that the wall must come down and Russia already started the reform.

  • You mean unification of whatever is left of Germany
    Sorry Bismarck all your hard work has gone in vain
    First the arrogant idiotic Wilhelm II then the illusionist hitler who wasted the precious German blood to help useless Mussolini and invade the Soviet Union which was providing him with what he needed for the war, it’s a very sad end for Germany
    Soon the greater Germany will expand and embrace all of her occupied territories from Alsace Lorraine to Danzig and East Prussia going through Pomerania and Silesia and the Anschluss with the sudenterland
    Long live Germany

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