German Democratic Republic

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German Democratic Republic


Flag Coat of arms
"Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt Euch!"
("Workers of all nations, unite !")
"Auferstanden aus Ruinen"
("Risen from Ruins")
Capital East Berlin
Language(s) Official: German
Unofficial minority languages: Sorbian
Government Socialist republic
Communist state
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
Legislature Volkskammer
Historical era Cold War
 - Established 7 October 1949
 - Final settlement 25 September 1990
 - German reunification 3 October 1990
 - 1990 108,333 km2 (41,828 sq mi)
 - 1990 est. 16,111,000 
     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

The German Democratic Republic abrreviated as GDR (in German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) mistakenly known in English as East Germany, was a Communist state created by the Soviet Union in the Soviet Zone of occupied Germany and the Soviet sector of occupied Berlin. The GDR existed from 1949 until 1990, when its states acceded to the adjacent democratic Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), thus producing the current form of the state of Germany.

The name

The name East Germany was created after World War II by the occupiers of this part of Germany, the Soviet Union, and the name is a forgery, since this area is historically the middle of Germany and not Eastern Germany (i.e: Pomerania, East Prussia, Danzig, etc.). Germans themselves call this area Mitteldeutschland = Middle Germany.


It consisted of the current states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, and Saxony; it claimed the eastern part of Berlin as its capital.

In 1955 the wholly communist German Democratic Republic was declared by the Soviet Union to be "fully sovereign"; however, Soviet troops remained. As NATO troops remained in West Berlin and West Germany, the GDR and Berlin in particular became focal points of Cold War tensions. Middle Germany (GDR) was a member of the Warsaw Pact and a puppet state of the Soviet Union. Following the initial opening of sections of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, new 'elections' were held on March 18, 1990, and the governing party, the SED, lost its majority in the Volkskammer (the parliament of the GDR) soon after. On August 23, the Volkskammer decided that the Republic would re-unite with the Federal Republic of Germany on October 3, 1990. As a result of the part-unification on that date, the German Democratic Republic officially ceased to exist.

Armed Forces

The army of the GDR was created in 1956 with the name of Nationale Volksarmee.