Occupied Germany
Berlin 1945-1949
Berlin 1969-1989

Berlin 1949-1969

While the FRG and the GDR were relesed into independence in 1949, Berlin remained under occupation. In theory, according to the FOUR POWERS AGREEMENT, Berlin was to be administrated jointly, while every power was in charge of its individual sector. However, joint administration ceased to function due to unilateral steps taken by both sides, the Soviets as well as the western powers; so two Berlins emerged, East Berlin, with the city's historical center, as the Soviet zone, and West Berlin or the sectors occupied vu the three western powers.
The Berlin blockade had made that partition of Berlin in two halves visible to the world. East Berlin was socialist, the government of the GDR had its seat here although East Berlin was not formally GDR territory. In West Berlin, the new D-Mark had been introduced. West Berlin established a municipal administration centered at SCHLOSS CHARLOTTENBURG. West Berlin founded the FREIE UNIVERSITAET, as Berlin's old HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITAET was located in the eastern part of town.

The GDR administration proceeded to reshape Berlin's historical center. The STADTPALAST (Hohenzollern Palace in the city) was torn down; in its stead they built the PALAST DER REPUBLIK.; when the sun shone at its dome, a cross appeared. Thus it was nicknamed SANKT WALTER, after Walter Ulbricht, SED chief.

So, the Saarland disregarded, there were 4 Germanies in 1949 : the FRG, the GDR, West Berlin and East Berlin (the latter two theoretically a unit). The border between East and West Berlin was not closed until 1961, and here hundreds of thousands crossed from the east into the west every year. Some went in the other direction, however, unable to invert the trend.
West Berlin sent representatives to the FRG's BUNDESTAG (parliament), where they had the status of observers without vote. West Berliners participated in FRG sports leagues, soccer club HERTHA BSC playing in the prestigious Bundesliga.
Berlin's separate status was expressed in the fact that the BUNDESWEHR, the FRG army since 1955, did not draft any residents of West-Berlin (until unification); in fact, a number of ingenious West German youngsters avoided military service by moving to Berlin. West Berlin also issued its own postage stamps, an indicator of political sovereignty. To indicate its close ties with the FRG, many of these featured the same motives as those of the FRG.

In 1961, in violation of the Four Powers Agreement, the USSR unilaterally handed over its sector to the GDR, which immediately proceeded to construct the BERLIN WALL, thus closing the Iron Curtain and stopping a constant outflow of its citizens. East Germany proclaimed (East) Berlin the CAPITAL OF THE GDR. Of the border crossing points within Berlin, CHECKPOINT CHARLIE was the most famous.
At that time, WILLY BRANDT was mayor of the city's western half, later to become one of the FRG's most celevrated chancellors. In 1963 West Berlin was visited by US President John F. Kennedy, who, in a famous speech, proclaimed Ich bin ein Berliner (I am a Berliner), thus expressing continued and determined US support for West Berlin.
West Berlin suffered from an INSULAR LOCATION, separated from FRG territory by c. 200 km of East German territory. All imports and exports had not only to cover that distance, but endure GDR border checks. The situation was economically disadvantageous; the FRG government attempted to balance it by subsidizing Berlin, by recognizing Berlin investments as deductable from taxable income. Still, the population of West Berlin declined over time.

DOCUMENTS Message From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy on the status of Berlin, July 1962, from Cold War Page at MtHolyoke
The End of the Berlin Crisis: New Evidence From the Polish and East German Archives; introduction, translation, and annotation by Douglas Selvage, from CWIHP
Briefing for President Kennedy on Berlin, 1962, by John C. Ausland
Kennedy's Berlin Speech, June 25th 1963, from Cheryl's Corner
REFERENCE Chapter 4 : Berlin - Outpost and Pivot, pp.41-57 in : John Gunther, Inside Europe Today, NY : Harper & Bros. 1961 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on June 7th 2006

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz