West Germany

Federal Republic of Germany

Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Motto: "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit"
"Unity and Justice and Freedom"
Territory of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from the accession of the Saar on 1 January 1957 to German reunification on 3 October 1990
Territory of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from the accession of the Saar on 1 January 1957 to German reunification on 3 October 1990
Largest cityHamburg
Common languagesGerman
Demonym(s)West German
GovernmentFederal parliamentary constitutional republic
• 1949–1959
Theodor Heuss
• 1959–1969
Heinrich Lübke
• 1969–1974
Gustav Heinemann
• 1974–1979
Walter Scheel
• 1979–1984
Karl Carstens
• 1984–1990
Richard von Weizsäckerb
• 1949–1963
Konrad Adenauer
• 1963–1966
Ludwig Erhard
• 1966–1969
Kurt Georg Kiesinger
• 1969–1974
Willy Brandt
• 1974–1982
Helmut Schmidt
• 1982–1990
Helmut Kohlc
Historical eraCold War
• Formation
23 May 1949
1 January 1957
• Admitted to the United Nations
18 September 1973
3 October 1990
1990248,577 km2 (95,976 sq mi)
• 1950
• 1970
• 1990
GDP (PPP)1990 estimate
• Total
$946 billion (4th)
CurrencyDeutsche Marke (DM) (DEM)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
Calling code49
Internet TLD.de
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Allied-occupied Germany
Saar Protectorate
Federal Republic of Germany (reunified Germany)
Today part of Germany
  1. From 1952 to 1991, the official national anthem of Germany was Deutschlandlied in its entirety, but only the third stanza was to be sung at official events.[1]
  2. Continued as President of the reunified Germany until 1994.
  3. Continued as Chancellor of the reunified Germany until 1998.
  4. Population statistics according to Statistisches Bundesamt.[2]
  5. In Saarland, between January 1957 and July 1959, the French franc and Saar franc.
  6. At first, Bonn was referred to only as the provisional seat of government institutions, but from the early 1970s it was called the "federal capital" (Bundeshauptstadt).

West Germany was the informal name for the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland), a country in Central Europe, in the period between its formation on 23 May 1949 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. During this Cold War period, the western portion of Germany was part of the Western Bloc. The Federal Republic was created during the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its (provisional) capital was the city of Bonn. The Cold War era West Germany is unofficially historically designated the Bonn Republic.[3]

At the onset of the Cold War, Europe was divided among the Western and Eastern blocs. Germany was de facto divided into two countries and two special territories, the Saarland and a divided Berlin. Initially, the Federal Republic of Germany claimed an exclusive mandate for all of Germany, considering itself to be the sole democratically reorganised continuation of the 1871–1945 German Reich. It took the line that the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was an illegally constituted puppet state. Though the GDR did hold regular elections, these were neither free nor fair. From the West German perspective, the GDR was therefore illegitimate. Three southwestern states of West Germany merged to form Baden-Württemberg in 1952, and the Saarland joined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1957. In addition to the resulting ten states, West Berlin was considered an unofficial de facto eleventh state. While legally not part of the Federal Republic of Germany, as Berlin was under the control of the Allied Control Council, West Berlin politically aligned itself with West Germany and was represented in its federal institutions.

The foundation for the influential position held by Germany today was laid during the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) of the 1950s when West Germany rose from the enormous destruction wrought by World War II to become the world's third-largest economy. The first chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who remained in office until 1963, had worked for a full alignment with NATO rather than neutrality. He not only secured a membership in NATO but was also a proponent of agreements which developed into the present-day European Union. When the G6 was established in 1975, there was no question as to whether the Federal Republic of Germany would become a member.

Following the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989, symbolised by the opening of the Berlin Wall, there was a rapid move towards German reunification. East Germany voted to dissolve itself and accede to the Federal Republic in 1990. Its five post-war states (Länder) were reconstituted along with the reunited Berlin, which ended its special status and formed an additional Land. They formally joined the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990, raising the number of states from ten to sixteen, ending the division of Germany. The reunion did not result in a new country; instead, the process was essentially a voluntary act of accession, whereby West Germany was enlarged to include the additional states of East Germany, which had ceased to exist. The expanded Federal Republic retained West Germany's political culture and continued its existing memberships in international organisations, as well as its Western foreign policy alignment and affiliation to Western alliances like UN, NATO, OECD and the European Union.

Naming conventions

The official name of West Germany, adopted in 1949 and unchanged since is Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany).

In East Germany, the terms Westdeutschland (West Germany) or westdeutsche Bundesrepublik (West German Federal Republic) were preferred during the 1950s and 1960s. This changed once under its 1968 constitution, when the idea of a single German nation was abandoned by East Germany, and as a result West Germans and West Berliners were officially considered foreigners. In the early 1970s, starting in the East German Neues Deutschland, the initialism "BRD" (FRG) for the "Federal Republic of Germany" began to prevail in East German usage. In 1973, official East German sources adopted it as a standard expression and other Eastern Bloc nations soon followed suit.

In reaction to this move, in 1965 the West German Federal Minister of All-German Affairs Erich Mende issued the Directives for the appellation of Germany, recommending avoiding the initialism. On 31 May 1974, the heads of West German federal and state governments recommended always using the full name in official publications. From then on West German sources avoided the abbreviated form, with the exception of left-leaning organizations which embraced it. In November 1979 the federal government informed the Bundestag that the West German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF had agreed to refuse to use the initialism.[4]

The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code of West Germany was "DE" (for Deutschland, Germany), which has remained the country code of Germany after reunification. ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 are the most widely used country codes, and the "DE" code is notably used as country identifier extending the postal code and as the Internet's country code top-level domain .de. Accordingly, the less widely used ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 country code of West Germany was "DEU", which has also remained the country code of reunified Germany. The now deleted codes for East Germany, on the other hand, was "DD" in ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 and "DDR" in ISO 3166-1 alpha-3.

The colloquial term "West Germany" or its equivalent was used in many languages. "Westdeutschland" was also a widespread colloquial form used in German-speaking countries, usually without political overtones.