German Border Question and Reunification

March 30, 1966

Report Outline
Partitioning of Germany After the War
Renewal of Discussion of Reunification
Territorial Losses and Border Problems
Pressures for Reunification of Germany

Partitioning of Germany After the War

More than two decades have passed since the German Third Reich was defeated in World War II, but the question of the boundaries of a unified German nation still awaits final disposition at a peace conference. The division of Germany, and of its former capital Berlin, into free and Communist areas and the de facto rule by Russia and Poland over large parts of prewar Germany remain the outstanding unsettled problems in Europe left over from the war.

After Hitler's armies were defeated in May 1945, the major victors assumed responsibility for the various zones of occupation which had been agreed upon at Allied conferences. The principal Western allies —the United States, Great Britain and France —assumed administrative power over zones covering 52 per cent of the Reich as it was constituted in 1937. The Red Army occupied the central part of the country, an area that accounted for 23 per cent of the prewar Reich. Berlin was placed under joint four-power occupation. The eastern part of Germany, 24.3 per cent of the Reich, was placed under the administration of Poland and Russia; of this area, Russia controlled the northern part of East Prussia, including that province's capital, Koenigsberg, and most of its seacoast along the Baltic.

The postwar partition of Germany is still in effect, although the three Western zones became in 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany. So-called West Germany, with its capital in Bonn, is no longer subject to rule by Allied occupation authorities. The Communist government in the east of Germany became the German Democratic Republic (G.D.R.) in 1949, with its capital in East Berlin. In Cold War terminology, West German officials call the G.D.R. the “Soviet-occupied zone.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 22, 1989  A Primer on German Reunification
Apr. 19, 1985  German Reconciliation
Feb. 25, 1983  West Germany's ‘Missile’ Election
Jan. 14, 1970  German Reconciliation
Jan. 29, 1969  West German Prosperity
Mar. 30, 1966  German Border Question and Reunification
Aug. 18, 1965  West German Election, 1965
Feb. 24, 1965  War Guilt Expiation
Jul. 01, 1964  German Question
Sep. 01, 1961  Captive East Germany
Aug. 23, 1961  West German Election, 1961
May 04, 1960  Berlin Question
Dec. 24, 1958  Berlin Crisis and German Reunification
Aug. 21, 1957  German Election, 1957
Oct. 19, 1955  European Security
Jun. 15, 1955  Germany and the Balance of Power
Oct. 19, 1954  German Rearmament
Jan. 19, 1954  West German Recovery
Mar. 12, 1953  Harassed Berlin
Apr. 26, 1950  German Problem
Feb. 18, 1948  Rehabilitation of the Ruhr
Oct. 23, 1946  Future of Germany
Nov. 25, 1944  Transfers of Populations
Nov. 01, 1940  Economic Controls in Nazi Germany
Mar. 09, 1939  Foreign Trade in German Economy
Apr. 02, 1936  Germany's Post-War European Relations
Nov. 02, 1934  The Coming Saab Plebiscite
Apr. 23, 1931  The Austro-German Customs Union Project
Feb. 05, 1929  The Rhineland Problem
Nov. 07, 1924  German National Elections December, 1924
Apr. 30, 1924  The German National Elections
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
U.S. at War: Cold War