Die Wende

Die Wende (German pronunciation: [diː ˈvɛndə], "The Turn" or "The Turnaround") is a German term that has come to signify the complete process of change from the rule of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and a centrally planned economy to the revival of parliamentary democracy and a market economy in the German Democratic Republic (also known as East Germany or the GDR) around 1989 and 1990. It encompasses several processes and events which later have become synonymous with the overall process. These processes and events are:

In hindsight, the German word Wende (meaning "The Turn") then took on a new meaning; the phrase seit der Wende, literally "since the change", means "since reunification" or "since the Wall fell". This period is marked by West German aid to East Germany, a total reaching an estimated $775 billion over 10 years. To some extent, Germany is still in the midst of the Nachwendezeit (post-Wende period): differences between East and West still exist, and a process of "inner reunification" is not yet finished.

This fundamental change has marked the reunification of Germany. The term was first used publicly in East Germany on 18 October 1989 in a speech by interim GDR leader Egon Krenz (the term having been used on the cover of influential West German news magazine Der Spiegel two days previously).[3] Whilst it initially referred to the end of the old East German government, die Wende has become synonymous with the fall of the Wall and of East Germany, and indeed of the entire Iron Curtain and Eastern Bloc state socialism.

Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate, 10 November 1989


  1. ^ "Geschichte der Bundesrepublik". www.hdg.de (in German). Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Chronik der Wende".
  3. ^ "Der Spiegel 42/1989".

External links

1990 East German general election

Legislative elections were held in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) on 18 March 1990. It was the only free parliamentary election in the GDR and the first truly free election held in that part of Germany since 1932. Four hundred deputies were elected to the Volkskammer.

The largest bloc was the Alliance for Germany, led by the East German branch of the Christian Democratic Union and running on a platform of speedy reunification with the West. The runner-up was the East German branch of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which had been refounded only six months earlier. The former Socialist Unity Party of Germany, renamed the Party of Democratic Socialism, ran in a free election for the first time ever and finished in third place.

The Alliance came up just short of the 201 seats needed to govern alone. Lothar de Maizière of the CDU, the early favorite to become East Germany's first freely elected prime minister, invited the SPD to join his Alliance partners – Democratic Awakening (DA) and the German Social Union (DSU) – in a grand coalition. The SPD was initially cool to de Maizière's offer, in part because of the presence of the DSU in de Maizière's grouping; the SPD had originally been willing to govern alongside all parties other than the PDS and DSU.On 5 April 1990, the new Volkskammer elected the CDU's Sabine Bergmann-Pohl as its president. As the State Council was at the same time dissolved, she became East Germany's interim head of state. Four days later, de Maizière announced that he had reached an agreement for a grand coalition consisting of the Alliance parties (the CDU, DSU and DA), the SPD, the liberal Association of Free Democrats (BFD), and one non-attached member. Between them, the three main partners in the coalition commanded a two-thirds supermajority in the Volkskammer, enough to pass amendments to the constitution.On 20 September of the same year, the Volkskammer voted by a 299–80 margin to accept the unification treaty, which had earlier been approved on a 442–47 vote by the West German Bundestag, and unify its territory to become part of an enlarged Federal Republic of Germany, meaning that East Germany, after 40 years of independence, would cease to exist. The treaty took effect on 3 October.

Alexanderplatz demonstration

The Alexanderplatz demonstration (German: Alexanderplatz-Demonstration) was a demonstration for political reforms and against the government of the German Democratic Republic on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin on 4 November 1989. With between half a million and a million protesters it was one of the largest demonstrations in East German history and a milestone of the peaceful revolution that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification. The demonstration was organized by actors and employees of theaters in East Berlin. It was the first demonstration in East German history that was organized by private individuals and was permitted to take place by the authorities. The speakers during the demonstration were members of the opposition, representatives of the regime and artists, and included the dissidents Marianne Birthler and Jens Reich, the writer Stefan Heym, the actor Ulrich Mühe, the former head of the East German foreign intelligence service Markus Wolf and Politburo member Günter Schabowski.

Alliance 90

Alliance 90 (German: Bündnis 90) was an alliance of three non-communist political groups in East Germany. It was formed in February 1990 by the New Forum (Neues Forum), Democracy Now (Demokratie Jetzt) and the Initiative for Peace and Human Rights (Initiative Frieden und Menschenrechte). It received 2.9% of the vote in the 1990 Volkskammer elections. For the first all-German elections it formed a joint list with the East German Green Party. It was this coalition that merged with the West German Green Party in 1993 to form Alliance 90/The Greens.

Alliance for Germany

The Alliance for Germany (German: Allianz für Deutschland) was an opposition coalition in East Germany. It was formed on 5 February 1990 in Berlin (then West Berlin) to stand in the East-German Volkskammer elections. It consisted of the Christian Democratic Union, Democratic Awakening and the German Social Union. The German Forum Party was invited to join, but declined.

The Alliance won the most votes in the election, winning 48.2% of votes cast (CDU 40.9%; DSU 6.3%; DA 0.9%), and would control 192 of 400 seats in the Volkskammer. It formed the interim-government in East Germany until German Reunification. Lothar de Maizière from the CDU was minister-president.

Association of Free Democrats

The Association of Free Democrats (German: Bund Freier Demokraten) was a liberal coalition formed in East Germany on 12 February 1990. It originally consisted of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Free Democratic Party (GDR) and the German Forum Party. In the Volkskammer election of the 18 March 1990 the Association of Free Democrats polled 5.28% of the votes and gained 21 seats. It then participated in the last GDR government led by Lothar de Maizière.

On 27 March 1990 the Association of Free Democrats absorbed the National Democratic Party of Germany. Finally, on 11 August 1990 it merged with the Free Democratic Party.

Christian Democratic Union (East Germany)

The Christian Democratic Union of Germany (German: Christlich-Demokratische Union Deutschlands, CDU) was an East German political party founded in 1945. It was part of the National Front with the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) and a bloc party until 1989.

It contested the free elections in 1990 as an arm of the West German Christian Democratic Union, into which it merged after German reunification later that same year.

Democracy Now (East Germany)

Democracy Now (German: Demokratie Jetzt) was a political movement which emerged in East Germany at the time of German reunification, which it helped significantly to shape. It was officially founded on 12 September 1989 and merged with sections of the Neue Forum (“New Forum”) and the Initiative Frieden und Menschenrechte (“Initiative for Peace and Human Rights”) to form Bündnis 90 (“Alliance 90”) in 1991.

Democratic Awakening

Democratic Awakening (German: Demokratischer Aufbruch) was an East German political movement and political party that was active during the Fall of Communism and in the period leading up to the German reunification. While it was a relatively minor party, it took part in the first democratically elected government in East Germany in 1990, and is especially known because future Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel started her political career within the party.

It was founded in October 1989, based on existing politically active church groups. Founding members included Wolfgang Schnur, Friedrich Schorlemmer, Rainer Eppelmann, Günter Nooke and Thomas Welz. The organisation became a political party on December 16/17, 1989 in Leipzig. The party convention adopted a more conservative program than some of the founding members, like Schorlemmer, were willing to bear, so they left the party. Others, like Nooke, who left some time later, resented the growing cooperation with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of East Germany, which had been a member of the Communist-dominated National Front of parties and mass organisations that had supported the Communist regime.

Democratic Awakening now supported rapid German reunification and joined the Alliance for Germany (Allianz für Deutschland) along with the CDU and German Social Union (DSU) for the 1990 Volkskammer elections on March 18. Only a few days prior to the elections, party chairman Schnur had to confess to having been an informer for the Ministry for State Security (Stasi), and resigned. Although Alliance for Germany won the elections, Democratic Awakening only collected 0.9% of votes, amounting to four seats in the Volkskammer. Eppelmann became minister for disarmament and defense in the new government and new party chairman. On August 5, 1990 Democratic Awakening ceased to exist after merging into the East German CDU, which in turn on 3 October 1990 merged into its West German counterpart, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

From February 1990, Angela Merkel served as the party's spokeswoman. After the mergers, Merkel was elected in the post-unification election as a member of the all-German Bundestag for the CDU, and eventually became Chancellor of Germany in 2005.

Free Democratic Party (GDR)

The Free Democratic Party (GDR) (German: Freie Demokratische Partei, DDR) was an opposition political party in East Germany. The appeal for its formation was made on 25 November 1989 in Berlin by those East German liberals who doubted the ability of the former block party Liberal Democratic Party of Germany to reform itself. It was formally founded 4 February 1990, and 12 February 1990 it joined the Association of Free Democrats for the Volkskammer elections.

German Forum Party

The German Forum Party (German: Deutsche Forumpartei) was an opposition political party in East Germany. It was formed from the New Forum (Neues Forum) citizens' movement. It was founded in Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz) on 27 January 1990. Its first chairman was Jürgen Schmieder. It described itself as being at the political centre.

It was invited to join the Christian Democrat-dominated Alliance for Germany coalition for the 1990 Volkskammer election but instead it joined the Association of Free Democrats on 12 February 1990.

German reunification

The German reunification (German: Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic (GDR, colloquially East Germany; German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik/DDR) became part of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, colloquially West Germany; German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland/BRD) to form the reunited nation of Germany, and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz (constitution) Article 23. The end of the unification process is officially referred to as German unity (German: Deutsche Einheit), celebrated on 3 October (German Unity Day) (German: Tag der deutschen Einheit). Following German reunification, Berlin was once again designated as the capital of united Germany.

The East German government started to falter in May 1989, when the removal of Hungary's border fence with Austria opened a hole in the Iron Curtain. It caused an exodus of thousands of East Germans fleeing to West Germany and Austria via Hungary. The Peaceful Revolution, a series of protests by East Germans, led to the GDR's first free elections on 18 March 1990, and to the negotiations between the GDR and FRG that culminated in a Unification Treaty. Other negotiations between the GDR and FRG and the four occupying powers produced the so-called "Two Plus Four Treaty" (Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany) granting full sovereignty to a unified German state, whose two parts were previously bound by a number of limitations stemming from their post-World War II status as occupied regions.

The 1945 Potsdam Agreement had specified that a full peace treaty concluding World War II, including the exact delimitation of Germany's postwar boundaries, required to be "accepted by the Government of Germany when a government adequate for the purpose is established." The Federal Republic had always maintained that no such government could be said to have been established until East and West Germany had been united within a free democratic state; but in 1990 a range of opinions continued to be maintained over whether a unified West Germany, East Germany, and Berlin could be said to represent "Germany as a whole" for this purpose. The key question was whether a Germany that remained bounded to the east by the Oder–Neisse line could act as a "united Germany" in signing the peace treaty without qualification. Under the "Two Plus Four Treaty" both the Federal Republic and the Democratic Republic committed themselves and their unified continuation to the principle that their joint pre-1990 boundaries constituted the entire territory that could be claimed by a Government of Germany, and hence that there were no further lands outside those boundaries that were parts of Germany as a whole.

The united Germany is not a successor state, but an enlarged continuation of the former West Germany. As such, the enlarged Federal Republic of Germany retained the West German seats in international organizations including the European Community (later the European Union) and NATO, while relinquishing membership in the Warsaw Pact and other international organizations to which only East Germany belonged. It also maintains the United Nations membership of the old West Germany.

Good Bye, Lenin!

Good Bye Lenin! is a 2003 German tragicomedy film, directed by Wolfgang Becker. The cast includes Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, and Maria Simon. The story follows a family in East Germany; the mother (Saß) is dedicated to the socialist cause and falls into a coma shortly before the 1989 revolution. When she is revived eight months later, her son (Brühl) attempts to protect her from fatal shock by concealing the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism.

Most scenes were shot at the Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin and around Plattenbauten near Alexanderplatz. Good Bye, Lenin! received numerous honours, including the European Film Award for Best Film and German Film Award for Best Feature Film.

Initiative for Peace and Human Rights

The Initiative for Peace and Human Rights (German: Initiative für Frieden und Menschenrechte) was the oldest opposition group in East Germany. It was founded on 24 January 1986 and was independent of the churches and state. In February 1990 it merged with New Forum and Democracy Now to form Alliance 90.

People involved in the Initiative for Peace and Human Rights included Bärbel Bohley, Ulrike Poppe, Martin Böttger and Ibrahim Böhme.

Monday demonstrations in East Germany

The Monday demonstrations in East Germany in 1989 to 1991 (German: Montagsdemonstrationen) were a series of peaceful political protests against the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) that took place every Monday evening. Because the church played a big role in them, the Monday demonstrations are also sometimes called the Religious Protest. The protests that occurred between 1989 and 1991 can be separated into five cycles. The Monday demonstrations started in Leipzig and were spontaneous, meaning that the demonstrations were not planned beforehand.

New Forum

New Forum (German: Neues Forum) was a political movement in East Germany formed in the months leading up to the collapse of the East German state. It was founded in September 1989 and was the first independent (non-National Front) political movement to be recognised by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany-led state on 8 November 1989. In February 1990 it formed Alliance 90 (Bündnis 90) with Democracy Now (Demokratie Jetzt) (DJ) and the Initiative for Peace and Human Rights (Initiative für Frieden und Menschenrechte) (IFM).

The New Forum was the first countrywide political movement in the GDR outside the Protestant church. Members of the Peace Movement, including Bärbel Bohley, Ingrid Köppe, Rolf Henrich, Jens Reich and Reinhard Meinel signed the "Aufbruch 89" [Initiative 89] founding proclamation on 9/10 September 1989 in Grünheide, which had been the last home of the dissident Robert Havemann. New Forum demanded a dialogue about democratic reforms, with the aim, together with the largest possible participation from the population, of 'reshaping' society.

19 September 1989 – Members apply for registration

21 September 1989 – Registration denied by the Interior Ministry: the New Forum is 'anti-state' and 'illegal'. Demonstrations follow. The increased pressure forces the authorities to allow New Forum to exist, and finally recognise it as a political organisation.

By the end of 1989, 200,000 people have signed the proclamation, and there are approx. 10,000 full members. New Forum demands free and democratic elections. Local New Forum groups are active mostly in the cities. Discussions about the development of grass-roots democracy led by the end of 1989 to a dispute over whether New Forum should become a party or remain a movement.

27–28 January 1990 – About one quarter of the members (mostly form the southern regions of the GDR) split from New Forum and form the German Forum Party (DFP). New Forum retains its grass-roots democratic structure.

February 1990 – New Forum joins with other opposition groups (Initiative Frieden und Menschenrechte (The Initiative for Peace and Human Rights] and Demokratie Jetzt [Democracy Now]) to form the political party Bündnis 90.

May 1993 – Bündnis 90 and the West German Green party join to form Bündnis 90/Die Grünen.

Pan-European Picnic

The Pan-European Picnic (German: Paneuropäisches Picknick; Hungarian: páneurópai piknik) was a peace demonstration held on the Austrian-Hungarian border near Sopron, Hungary on 19 August 1989, the day before the Hungarian holiday commemorating Stephen I of Hungary. Part of the Revolutions of 1989 leading to the lifting of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany, it was organised by the Paneuropean Union and the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum under the sponsorship of Archduke Otto von Habsburg and Imre Pozsgay.

Party of Democratic Socialism (Germany)

The Party of Democratic Socialism (German: Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus, PDS) was a democratic socialist political party in Germany active between 1989 and 2007. It was the legal successor to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which ruled the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) as a one-party state until 1990. From 1990 through to 2005, the PDS had been seen as the left-wing "party of the East". While it achieved minimal support in western Germany, it regularly won 15% to 25% of the vote in the eastern new states of Germany, entering coalition governments (with the Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD) in the federal states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Berlin.In 2005, the PDS, renamed The Left Party.PDS (Die Linkspartei.PDS) entered an electoral alliance with the Western Germany-based Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (WASG) and won 8.7% of the vote in Germany's September 2005 federal elections (more than double the 4% share achieved by the PDS alone in the 2002 federal election). On 16 June 2007, the two groupings merged to form a new party called The Left (Die Linke).The party had many socially progressive policies, including support for legalisation of same-sex marriage and greater social welfare for immigrants.Internationally, the Left Party.PDS was a co-founder of the Party of the European Left and was the largest party in the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament.

Social Democratic Party in the GDR

The Social Democratic Party in the GDR (German: Sozialdemokratische Partei in der DDR) was a reconstituted Social Democratic Party existing during the last phase of the East German state. Slightly less than a year after its creation it merged with the West German Social Democratic Party of Germany.

United Left (East Germany)

The United Left (German: Vereinigte Linke) was an alliance of several leftist opposition groupings in the German Democratic Republic. Among them were Christian Socialists, Trotskyists, adherents of the Titoistic system of self-management and some Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) members, who were critical of their party's policy.

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