On this day, August 31st, 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic signed the Einigungsvertrag (Unification Treaty). With this agreement the Laender of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thüringen will become Laender within the Federal Republic of Germany. At the same time all 23 boroughs of the city of Berlin will become the Land Berlin. The city of Berlin becomes the capital of Germany and the 3rd of October, the day the Unification treaty enters into force, becomes a national holiday.

This brings the only ever successful German revolution to its political conclusion. As such it was a bit of a downer.

At the time there were two routes to create a unified German state under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz). The first one was for the whole of Germany to get together and design a new constitution (Art. 146).  The other option was for the former GDR to simply join the Federal Republic of Germany, adopt its political structures and laws (Art.23).

In 1990 the second option was chosen, presumably because it was a lot simpler and quicker. Time may have been of the essence. Though we all know in hindsight that the Soviet Union disappeared shortly thereafter, but there was no guarantee for that to happen. Germany was still negotiating the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with respect to Germany” whereby the four former allies US, UK, France and Russia allowed reunification to happen and a fully sovereign German state to be formed. This agreement was only signed on September 12th, i.e., after the Unification Treaty.

The quick implementation however had a significant downside. The people of East Germany, who had brought about the revolution did not get a chance to determine the political and legal structures of the country they would now be living in. This is certainly not the only, but one of the reasons for what came to be known as the “Mauer in den Köpfen”, the cultural and political divide between East and West that still exists, over 30 years later.   

This, the 3rd of October 1990 will be the end-date of the History of the Germans Podcast. Given we are currently in the year 1056 and run at a rate of c. 5 years per episode the estimated date of arrival will be October 2025, the 35th anniversary of German Reunification. If you want to come along for the journey, check out the Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google etc. Links are here: https://history-of-the-germans.captivate.fm/listen or on my website www.histryofthegermans.com

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