The foundation of West and East Germany

Divided Germany. The foundation of West and East Germany (Bild. SZ Photo, ID 00103454)

Divided Germany

Three years after the end of the war, consultation on a constitution for the Federal Republic of Germany began at Herrenchiemsee Castle. The Parliamentary Council, in which it was passed, was already composed of the later decision-makers who so decisively shaped the early years of the West German state. Theodor Heuss, for example, the first Federal President, or Konrad Adenauer, who signed the constitution on 23 May 1949 and was elected Chancellor after the first free elections since 1933. The state did not become fully sovereign in this process, as all important steps towards a democratic new beginning took place under the watchful eyes of the Allied military governors. When on 7 October of the same year the German People's Council followed in the SBZ and celebrated the foundation of the GDR with the adoption of its constitution, West Berliners demonstrated for free elections also in the eastern sector of the city. But just as determinedly as the Adenauer administration was to press ahead with the integration of the West in the next few years, so the GDR consistently oriented itself towards the East: two German states had emerged that did not granted diplomatic recognition to each other and each formulated the claim to represent the entire German heritage.