Background Note: Germany

PA Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Description: Historical, Political and Economic Overviews of the Countries of the World Date: Jun, 15 19926/15/92 Category: Country Data Region: Europe Country: Germany Subject: Travel, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics, Military Affairs, Cultural Exchange, State Department [TEXT]

Official Name:

Federal Republic of Germany


357,000 sq. km. (137,838 sq. mi.); about the size of Montana.
Capital--Berlin (population about 3.4 million). Seat of government--Bonn (pop. 287,000). The permanent seat of government for a unified Germany will be addressed by the all- German Parliament elected on December 2, 1990. Other cities-- Hamburg (1.6 million), Munich (1.2 million), Cologne (946,000), Frankfurt (635,000). (Dec. 1990 est.)
Low plain in the north; high plains, hills, and basins in the center and east; mountainous Alpine region in the south.
Temperate; cooler and rainier than much of the US.
Noun and adjective--German(s).
About 79 million (Dec. 1990 est.).
Ethnic groups:
Primarily German; Danish minority in the north, Serbian (Slavic) minority in the east.
Almost evenly divided between Protestant and Roman Catholic.
Years compulsory--10. Attendance--100%. Literacy--99%.
Health (in the original 11 states):
Infant mortality rate (1990)--6/1,000. Life expectancy (1990)--women 81 yrs., men 73 yrs.
Work force:
39 million (1990 estimate). Includes the 11 million workers in the former GDR.
Federal republic.
1949 (Basic Law, i.e., constitution, promulgated on May 23, 1949). On October 3, 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic unified in accordance with Article 23 of the FRG Basic Law.
Executive--president (titular chief of state), chancellor (executive head of government). Legislative-- bicameral parliament. Judicial--independent, Federal Constitutional Court.
16 Laender (states)--Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bayern (Bavaria), Berlin, Brandenburg*, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen (Hesse), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern*, Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen (Saxony)*, Sachsen- Anhalt*, Schleswig-Holstein, Thueringen (Thuringia)*. (* = formerly part of the GDR)
Major political parties:
Christian Democratic Union (CDU); Christian Social Union (CSU); Social Democratic Party (SPD); Free Democratic Party (FDP); Greens/Alliance 90; Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS).
Universal at 18.
Central government budget (1990):
$245 billion. Defense budget (original 11 states, 1990): 2.2% of GNP.
Three horizontal bands: black, red, and gold, from top to bottom.
Economy (for original 11 states)
GNP (1989):
$1.2 trillion.
Annual growth rate (1989):
Per capita income:
$19,000. Inflation rate (1988): 2.8%.
Natural resources:
Iron, hard coal, lignite, potash, natural gas.
Agriculture (1.5% of GNP):
Products--corn, wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, barley, hops, viniculture, forestry, fisheries. Industry (40% of GNP): Types--iron and steel, coal, chemicals, electrical products, ships, vehicles, construction.
Trade (1989):
Exports --$367 billion: chemicals, motor vehicles, iron and steel products, manufactured goods, electrical products. Major markets (1988)--European Community 54%, other Europeancountries 19%, US 8%, developing countries 7%, Soviet Union 2%. Imports--$269 billion: food, petroleum products, manufactured goods, electrical products, automobiles, apparel. Major suppliers (1988)--European Community countries 52%, other European countries 16%, US 7%, developing countries 10%, Soviet Union 2%.
Exchange rate (November 1990):
1.50 Deutsche marks=US $1.
Membership in International Organizations
Council of Europe, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), INTELSAT, European Community (EC), Western European Union (WEU), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the United Nations and UN-related agencies, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), and International Monetary Fund (IMF).


The population of the unified FRG is primarily German; however, there are a substantial number of foreign guest workers and their dependents. An ethnic Danish minority lives in the north, and a small Slavic minority known as the Sorbs lives in eastern Germany. Renowned for their economic productivity, Germans are well-educated. Since the end of World War II, the number of youths entering universities has nearly tripled, and the trade and technical schools in the original 11 states of the FRG are among the world's best. German culture has produced some of the greatest artists and intellectuals of all time. Composers, artists, writers, scholars, and scientists have always enjoyed prestige in Germany. With per capita income levels approaching $20,000 in the original 11 states, postwar Germany has become a broadly middle class society. A generous social welfare system provides for universal medical care, unemployment compensation, and other social needs. Modern Germans also are mobile; millions travel abroad each year. With unification on October 3, 1990, the FRG has started the major task of bringing the standard of living of Germans in the former GDR up to the levels of western Germany. It appears that this will be a lengthy and difficult process, due to the relative inefficiency of the industrial enterprises in the former GDR, the poor infrastructure in this area, the environmental damage in eastern Germany brought on by years of mismanagement under communist rule, and difficulty in resolving property ownership in the former GDR.


Germanic tribes, migrating south and west, entered the present territory of Germany nearly 4,000 years ago. They pushed back the Celts and were strongly established before encountering the Romans moving north under Varus, one of Augustus' generals. The Germans annihilated the Roman forces and killed Varus in the battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, effectively stopping Roman expansion on the Danube-Rhine line. Thus, much of Germany did not experience Latin culture directly and adopted Christianity later than did the Roman world. The baptism of Clovis in 496 AD opened the way for widespread conversion of the Germanic tribes and culminated three centuries later with the crowning of "Karl the Great" (Charlemagne) in 800 as Holy Roman Emperor. For the next 1,000 years, decentralizing forces dominated German politics, leaving power largely in the hands of local princes, often with devastating consequences. The Thirty Years' War (1618- 48), a series of conflicts between Protestant and Catholic forces, decimated Germany's population. After the war, an uneasy balance remained between Protestant and Catholic states, which continued to war against each other periodically. The rise of Prussian power in the 19th century, supported by growing German nationalism, eventually ended the inter-state fighting and resulted in the formation of the German Empire in 1871 under the chancellorship of Otto von Bismarck. Although authoritarian in many respects, the empire eventually permitted the development of political parties and Bismarck was credited with passing the most advanced social welfare legislation of the age. Dynamic expansion of military power, however, contributed to tension on the continent. The fragile European balance of power broke down in 1914, and World War I left millions dead and led to the collapse of the empire.
The Weimar Republic
The postwar Weimar Republic (1919-33) sought to draw on Germany's liberal traditions but was handicapped by terrible economic problems--the inflation of the early 1920s and the post-1929 world depression--as well as the political legacy of the Versailles Treaty, which imposed a heavy burden of reparations and loss of territory. The new experiment in republican, parliamentary democracy was unable to harness the resulting surge of political conflicts, and the republic suffered from a succession of weak governments formed by multi-party coalitions. The National Socialist (Nazi) Party, led by a demagogic ex- corporal, Adolf Hitler, stressed nationalist themes, such as the alleged betrayal of Germany by German republican representatives at Versailles, promised to put the unemployed back to work, and blamed many of Germany's ills on alleged Jewish conspiracies. Its electorate expanded rapidly in the early 1930s, but the Nazi party never achieved a majority prior to coming to power. Only after months of deadlock was Hitler asked to form a government as Reich Chancellor in January 1933. After President Paul von Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler assumed that office as well. Once in power, Hitler and his party first undermined then abolished democratic institutions and opposition parties and installed a program of racism that resulted in the deliberate, widespread extermination of Jews and other minority groups during World War II. In the 1930s, Hitler also began to restore Germany's economy and military strength. His ambitions led Germany into launching World War II and suffering destruction, defeat, and loss of territory. After Germany's unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the USSR occupied the country and assumed responsibility for its administration. The commanders-in-chief exercised supreme authority in their respective zones and, sitting as the Allied Control Council (ACC), acted in concert on questions affecting the whole country. France was later invited to join the ACC and was given a separate zone of occupation. At Potsdam in August 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union agreed to a broad program of decentralization, treating Germany as a single economic unit with some central administrative departments. These plans failed, primarily because of inter-Allied conflict. The turning point came in 1948 when the Soviets withdrew from the Four Power governing bodies and blockaded Berlin.
Political Developments in West Germany
The United States and the United Kingdom moved to establish a nucleus for a future German government by expanding the size and powers of the German Economic Council in their two zones. The program provided for a West German constituent assembly, an occupation statute governing relations between the Allies and the German authorities, and the economic merger of the French with the British and American zones. On May 23, 1949, the Basic Law, or constitution, of the Federal Republic of Germany was promulgated. The first federal government was formed by Konrad Adenauer on Sept. 20, 1949. The next day, the occupation statute came into force, granting full powers of self-government with certain exceptions. The FRG quickly progressed toward fuller sovereignty and association with European neighbors and the Atlantic community. The London and Paris agreements of 1954 restored full sovereignty to the FRG when they went into effect on May 5, 1955 and opened the way for German membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Western European Union (WEU). The three Allies retained occupation powers in Berlin and certain responsibilities for Germany as a whole. Under the new arrangements, the Allies stationed troops within the FRG for NATO defense, pursuant to stationing and status-of-forces agreements. With the exception of 45,000 French troops, Allied forces were under NATO's joint defense command. Political life in the FRG was remarkably stable and orderly. The Adenauer era (1949-63) was followed by a brief period under Ludwig Erhard (1963-66) who, in turn, was replaced by Kurt Georg Kiesinger (1966-69). Kiesinger's 1966-69 "Grand Coalition" included the CDU/CSU and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Governments between 1949 and 1966 were all formed by the united caucus of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), either alone or in coalition with the smaller Free Democratic Party (FDP). In the 1969 election, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), headed by Willy Brandt, gained enough votes to form a coalition government with the FDP. Chancellor Brandt remained head of government until May 1974, when he resigned after a senior member of his staff was arrested and accused of being an officer in the East German intelligence service. Finance Minister Helmut Schmidt formed a government and received the unanimous support of coalition members. Hans- Dietrich Genscher, a leading FDP official, became the vice chancellor and foreign minister. Schmidt, a strong supporter of the European Community (EC) and the Atlantic alliance, emphasized his commitment to "the political unification of Europe in partnership with the USA." In October 1982, the SPD/FDP coalition fell apart and the FDP joined forces with the CDU/CSU to elect CDU Chairman Helmut Kohl as chancellor. Following national elections in March 1983, Kohl emerged in firm control of both the government and the CDU. The CDU/CSU fell just short of an absolute majority, due to the entry into the Bundestag of the Greens, who received 5.6% of the vote. In January 1987, the Kohl/Genscher government was returned to office, but the FDP and the Greens gained at the expense of the larger parties. Kohl's CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, slipped from 49% of the vote in 1983 to 44%. The SPD fell to 37%. Long-time SPD Chairman Brandt subsequently resigned in April 1987 and was succeeded by Hans-Jochen Vogel. The FDP rose from 7% to 9%, their best showing since 1980. The Greens also significantly strengthened their place in the Bundestag, rising from 5.6% (1983) to 8.3% (1987).
Political Developments in East Germany
In the Soviet zone, the Social Democratic party was forced to merge with the Communist party in 1946 to form a new party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED). The October 1946 elections resulted in coalition governments in the five Land (state) parliaments with the SED as the undisputed leader. A series of people's congresses were called in 1948 and early 1949 by the SED. Under Soviet direction, a constitution was drafted on May 30, 1949, and adopted on October 7, which was celebrated as the day when the German Democratic Republic was proclaimed. The People's Chamber (Volkskammer), the lower house of the GDR parliament, and an upper house, the States Chamber (Laenderkammer), were created. (The Laenderkammer was abolished in 1958.) On October 11, 1949, the two houses elected Wilhelm Pieck as president and an SED government was set up. The Soviet Union and its East European allies immediately recognized the GDR, although it remained largely unrecognized by non-communist countries until 1972-73. The GDR established the structures of a single-party, centralized communist state. On July 23, 1952, the traditional Laender were abolished and, in their place, 14 Bezirke (districts) were established. All effective government control was in the hands of the SED and almost all important government positions were held by SED members. The National Front was an umbrella organization nominally consisting of the SED, four other political parties controlled and directed by the SED, and the four principal mass organizations (youth, trade unions, women, and culture). However, control was clearly and solely in the hands of the SED. Balloting in GDR elections was not secret. As in other Soviet bloc countries, electoral participation was consistently high, with nearly unanimous candidate approval.
Inter-German Relations
The constant stream of East Germans fleeing to West Germany placed great strains on FRG-GDR relations in the 1950s. On August 13, 1961, the GDR began building a wall through the center of Berlin, effectively dividing the city and slowing the flood of refugees to a trickle. The Berlin Wall became the symbol of the East's political debility and the division of Europe. In 1969, FRG Chancellor Brandt announced that the FRG would remain firmly rooted in the Atlantic alliance but would intensify efforts to improve relations with Eastern Europe and the GDR. The FRG commenced its Ostpolitik by negotiating non- aggression treaties with the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The FRG's relations with the GDR posed particularly difficult questions. Though anxious to relieve serious hardships for divided families and to reduce friction, the FRG under Brandt was intent on holding to its concept of "two German states in one German nation." Relations improved, and, in September 1973, the FRG and the GDR were admitted to the UN. The two Germanys exchanged permanent representatives in 1974, and, in 1987, GDR head of state Erich Honecker paid an official visit to the FRG.
German Unification
During the summer of 1989, rapid change in the GDR ultimately led to German unification. Growing numbers of East Germans emigrated to the FRG via Hungary after the Hungarians decided not to use force to stop them. Thousands of East Germans also tried to reach the West by staging sit-ins at FRG diplomatic facilities in other East European capitals. The exodus generated demands within the GDR for political change, and mass demonstrations in several cities--particularly in Leipzig--continued to grow. On October 7, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited Berlin to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the GDR and urged the East German leadership to pursue reform. On October 18, Erich Honecker resigned as head of the SED and head of state and was replaced by Egon Krenz. But the exodus continued unabated, and pressure for political reform mounted. On November 4, a demonstration in East Berlin drew an estimated 500,000--1 million East Germans. Finally, on November 9, the Berlin Wall was opened, and East Germans were allowed to travel freely. Thousands poured through the Wall into the western sectors of Berlin, and on November 12, the GDR began dismantling it. On November 28, FRG Chancellor Kohl outlined a 10-point plan for the peaceful unification of the two Germanys based on free elections in the GDR and a unification of their two economies. In December, the GDR Volkskammer eliminated the SED monopoly on power, and the entire Politburo and Central Committee--including Krenz--resigned. The SED changed its name to the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the formation and growth of numerous political groups and parties marked the end of the former communist system. Prime Minister Hans Modrow headed a caretaker government which shared power with the new democratically oriented parties. On December 7, 1989, agreement was reached to hold free elections in May 1990 and rewrite the GDR constitution. On January 28, all the parties agreed to advance the elections to March 18, primarily because of an erosion of state authority and because the East German exodus continued with over 117,000 leaving for the West in January and February 1990. In early February 1990, the Modrow government's proposal for a unified, neutral German state was rejected by Chancellor Kohl, who affirmed that a unified Germany must be a member of NATO. Finally, on March 18, the first free elections were held in the GDR, and a government led by Lothar de Maiziere (CDU) was formed under a policy of expeditious unification with the FRG. The freely elected representatives of the Volkskammer held their first session on April 5, and the GDR peacefully evolved from a communist to a democratically elected government. Free and secret communal (local) elections were held in the GDR on May 6, and the CDU again won. On July 1, the two Germanys entered into an economic and monetary union.
Four Power Control Ends
During 1990, in parallel with internal German developments, the Four Powers--the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union--negotiated to end Four Power reserved rights for Berlin and Germany as a whole. These "Two-plus-Four" negotiations were mandated at the Ottawa Open Skies conference on February 13, 1990. The six foreign ministers met four times in the ensuing months in Bonn (May 5) , Berlin (June 22), Paris (July 17), and Moscow (September 12). The Polish Foreign Minister participated in that part of the Paris meeting that dealt with the Polish-German borders. Of key importance was overcoming Soviet objections to a united Germany's membership in NATO. This was accomplished in July when the alliance--led by President Bush--issued the London Declaration on a transformed NATO. On July 16, President Gorbachev and Chancellor Kohl announced agreement in principle on a united Germany in NATO. This cleared the way for signing the "Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany" in Moscow on September 12. In addition to terminating Four Power rights, the treaty mandates the withdrawal of all Soviet forces from Germany by the end of 1994, makes clear that the current borders are final and definitive, and specifies the right of a united Germany to belong to NATO. It also provides for the continued presence of British, French, and American troops in Berlin during the interim period of the Soviet withdrawal. In the treaty, the Germans renounced nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and stated their intention to reduce German armed forces to 370,000 within 3-4 years after the conventional armed forces in Europe (CFE) agreement (signed in Paris on November 19, 1990) enters into force. Conclusion of the final settlement cleared the way for unification of the FRG and GDR. Formal political union occurred on October 3, 1990, with the accession (in accordance with Article 23 of the FRG's Basic Law) of the five Laender, which had been reestablished in the GDR. On December 2, 1990, all-German elections were held for the first time since 1937. The CDU/CSU received 44% of the vote and the FDP received 11%, giving the governing coalition 55% of the vote and 398 of 662 seats in the Bundestag. The SPD opposition won 34% of the vote and 239 seats. Under the special provisions of the first all-German elections, parties in the former GDR who received 5% of the vote in that area were also able to receive representation. The Party of Democratic Socialism received 10% of the vote in the former GDR and 17 seats in the Bundestag, and an alliance of the Greens and several left-wing organizations (Alliance 90) won 6% of the vote in East Germany and 8 Bundestag seats. However, in West Germany, since the Greens won only 4.7% of the vote, they did not receive any Bundestag seats.


The government is parliamentary and based on a democratic constitution that emphasizes the protection of individual liberty and divided power in a federal structure. The chancellor (prime minister) heads the executive branch of the federal government. The president's duties (chief of state) are largely ceremonial; power is exercised by the chancellor. Although elected by and responsible to the Bundestag (lower and principal chamber of the parliament), the chancellor cannot be removed from office during a 4-year term unless the Bundestag has agreed on a successor. The Bundestag, also elected for a 4-year term, consists of 662 deputies. The first elections for an all-German Bundestag were held on December 2, 1990. The Bundesrat (upper chamber or Federal Council) consists of 68 members who are delegates of the 16 Laender. The legislature has powers of exclusive jurisdiction and concurrent jurisdiction (with the Laender) in fields specifically enumerated by the Basic Law. The Bundestag bears the major responsibility, and the role of the Bundesrat is limited except in matters concerning Laender interests, where it can exercise substantial veto power. The FRG has an independent federal judiciary consisting of a constitutional court, a high court of justice, and courts with jurisdiction in administrative, financial, labor, and social matters. The highest court is the Federal Constitutional Court which ensures a uniform interpretation of constitutional provisions and protects the fundamental rights of the individual citizen as defined in the Basic Law.
Principal Government Officials
President--Richard von Weizsaecker President of the Bundestag--Rita Suessmuth (CDU) Chancellor--Helmut Kohl (CDU) Vice Chancellor--Hans-Dietrich Genscher (FDP) Minister of Defense--Gerhard Stoltenberg (CDU) Minister for Foreign Affairs--Hans-Dietrich Genscher (FDP) Ambassador to the US--Dr. Juergen Ruhfus Ambassador to the UN--Detlew Graf zu Rantzau The FRG maintains an embassy in the United States at 4645 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-298-4000). FRG consulates general are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. Consulates are located in Miami and New Orleans.
Political Parties
Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU):
An important aspect of postwar German politics has been the emergence of a moderate Christian party, the Christian Democratic Union, operating with a related Bavarian party, the Christian Social Union. Although each party maintains its own structure, the two form a common caucus in the Bundestag and do not run opposing campaigns. The CDU/CSU is loosely organized, containing Catholics, Protestants, rural interests, and members of all economic classes. It is generally conservative on economic and social policy and more identified with the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches than are the other major parties, although its programs are pragmatic rather than ideological. Helmut Kohl has served as chairman of the CDU since 1973; Theo Waigel succeeded the late Franz Josef Strauss as chairman of the CSU in 1988. --
Social Democratic Party (SPD):
The SPD is the other major party in the FRG and is one of the oldest organized political parties in the world. Historically, it advocated Marxist principles, but in the "Godesberg Program," adopted in 1959, the SPD abandoned the concept of a class party, while continuing to stress social welfare programs. Although the SPD originally opposed West Germany's 1955 entry into NATO, it now emphasizes German ties with the alliance. However, the SPD often has opposed specific NATO programs and has advanced its own proposals under the banner of "security partnership" with the East. The SPD has a powerful base in the bigger cities and industrialized Laender. Bjoern Engholm became the SPD chairman in May 1991. --
The Free Democratic Party (FDP):
The FDP has traditionally been composed mainly of middle- and upper-class Protestants who consider themselves "independents" and heirs to the European liberal tradition. Although the party is weak on the state level, it has participated in all but three postwar governments and has spent only 7 years out of government in the 40-year history of the Federal Republic. Otto Graf Lambsdorff was elected chairman of the FDP in 1988. A leading figure in the party is Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who has served since 1974 as the West German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister in coalition governments with both the SPD and the CDU/CSU. --
The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS):
Under chairman Gregor Gysi, the PDS is the successor party to the SED (communist party). Established in December 1989, it renounced most of the extreme aspects of SED policy, but has retained much of the ideology of the SED. In the December 1990 all-German elections, the PDS gained 10% of the vote in the territory of the former GDR and 17 seats in the Bundestag. However, having won only 0.3% of the vote in western Germany, it is questionable whether the PDS will win representation in the next German election, when the 5% hurdle will apply throughout all of Germany. --
In the 1970s, environmentalists organized politically as the Greens. Opposition to expanded use of nuclear power, to NATO strategy, and to aspects of highly industrialized society were the principle campaign issues. The Greens received 8% of the vote in the January 1987 West German national election. However, in the December 1990 all- German elections, the Greens in western Germany were not able to clear the 5% hurdle required to win seats in the Bundestag. It was only in the territory of the former GDR that the Greens, in an alliance with Alliance 90 (a loose grouping of left-wing political entities with diverse political views), were able to clear the 5% hurdle and win Bundestag seats.


Germany ranks among the world's most important economic powers. From the 1948 currency reform until the early 1970s, it experienced almost continuous economic expansion, but real growth in gross national product (GNP) slowed and even declined from the mid-1970s through the recession of the early 1980s. Since then, however, the FRG has experienced 8 consecutive years of economic growth. The German economy grew 4% in 1989 and should equal that performance again in 1990. Germans often describe their economic system as a "social market economy." Competition and free enterprise are fostered as a matter of government policy. However, the state also intervenes in the economy through the provision of subsidies to selected sectors and the ownership of some segments of the economy, including such public services as railroad, airline, and telephone systems. The German government also provides an extensive network of social services. The FRG economy is heavily export oriented, with one-third of its national output shipped abroad annually. As a result, exports have traditionally been a key element in German macro-economic expansion. Over the past 2 years, however, domestic demand has been the main engine of economic growth. The FRG has long been a strong advocate of closer European economic integration, and its economic and commercial policies are increasingly determined by agreements among EC members. Outside the EC, the United States, Austria, and Switzerland are the FRG's major trading partners. The United States had sales of about $20 billion (a 7.6% share of the FRG import market) in 1988. In that year, the FRG exported goods valued at about $25 billion to the United States (an 8% share of the US import market), including motor vehicles, machinery, chemicals, and electrical equipment. US sales to the FRG are concentrated in chemicals, machinery, edible fats and oils, aircraft, electrical equipment, and motor vehicles. The FRG has followed a liberal policy toward foreign investment. About 65% of US capital invested in the FRG is in manufacturing--the largest share in the automobile industry--and another 25% is in petroleum. Total US assets in the FRG amounted to $20 billion at the end of 1988. German capital has come increasingly to the United States. At the end of 1988, net FRG direct investment amounted to $27 billion. With the unification of the two German states, the FRG faces the complex task of rapidly introducing a market economy in the East. Since overall productivity in the former GDR was less than half that in the FRG, closing the economic gap between East and West will be a major undertaking. The poor condition of basic infrastructure and widespread environmental damage in the East will further complicate the process of economic integration. Private investment in eastern Germany has been slower than expected, in large part since the issue of property ownership in the former GDR has proven difficult to resolve. But most observers nevertheless continue to believe that after an initial period of economic adjustment, eastern Germany will enter into an era of rapid and sustained economic growth.
Principal US Officials
Ambassador--Vernon A. Walters Deputy Chief of Mission--George F. Ward Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs--Douglas H. Jones Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs--Donald B. Kursch Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs-- John W. Bligh, Jr. Minister-Counselor for Administrative Affairs--Harold W. Geisel Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs--Norman A. Singer Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs--Cynthia J. Miller The US embassy is located at Deichmanns Aue 29, 5300 Bonn 2 (tel. 0228-3391). A US embassy office is in Berlin, and consulates general are at Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, and Stuttgart. A consulate general is scheduled to open in 1991 in Leipzig.


The unified Germany continues to emphasize close ties with the United States, membership in NATO, progress toward further West European integration, and improved relations with Eastern Europe. The FRG took part in all of the joint postwar efforts aimed at closer political, economic, and defense cooperation among the countries of Western Europe. The FRG is also a strong supporter of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which seeks to reduce tensions and improve relations among the European nations, the US, and Canada. During the postwar era, the FRG sought to improve its relationship with the countries of Eastern Europe, initially establishing trade agreements and, subsequently, diplomatic relations. With unification, German relations with Eastern Europe have intensified. The FRG and Poland signed a treaty confirming the Oder-Neisse border on November 14, 1990, and are negotiating a broader agreement to cover bilateral relations. The FRG has also concluded four treaties with the Soviet Union covering the overall bilateral relationship, economic relations, the withdrawal of Soviet troops in the territory of the former GDR, and FRG support for these troops.


US-German relations have been a focal point of American involvement in Europe since the end of World War II. The FRG stands at the center of East-West relations, as well as of US relations with the West Europeans in NATO and the European Community. But German-American ties extend back to the colonial era. More than 7 million Germans have immigrated over the last three centuries, and today nearly 25% of all US citizens can claim German ancestry. In recognition of this heritage and the importance of modern-day US-German ties, Congress has declared October 6 to be "German-American Day." The US objective in Germany remains the preservation and consolidation of a close and vital relationship with the FRG not only as friends and trading partners but also as allies sharing common institutions. During the 45 years in which Germany was divided, the US role in Berlin and the large American military presence in West Germany served as symbols of US commitment to the preservation of peace and security in Europe. Since German unification, the US commitment to these goals has not changed. American policies continue to be shaped by the awareness that the security and prosperity of the United States and Germany depend--to a major degree--on each other. As allies in NATO, the United States and Germany work side by side to maintain peace and freedom. This unity and resolve made possible the successful conclusion of the 1987 US-USSR Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the Two-plus- Four process which led to the Final Settlement Treaty, and the November 1990 conventional armed forces in Europe (CFE) agreement. As two of the world's leading trading nations, the United States and the FRG share a common, deep-seated commitment to an open and expanding world economy. After the United States, Germany is the world's second leading trading nation. It is the fourth largest trading partner of the United States. Personal ties between the United States and the FRG extend beyond immigration to include lively foreign exchange programs, booming tourism in both directions, and the presence in the FRG of large numbers of American military personnel and their dependents. The United States and the FRG have built a solid foundation of bilateral cooperation in a relationship that has changed significantly over four decades. The historic unification of Germany and the role played by the United States in that process has served to strengthen ties between the two countries. The relationship now constitutes a mature partnership but remains subject to occasional misunderstandings and differences. These strains tend to reflect the importance, variety, and intensity of US-FRG ties and respective interests rather than fundamental differences. German-American political, economic, and security relationships continue to be based on close consultation and coordination at the most senior levels. High-level visits take place frequently, and the United States and the FRG cooperate actively in international forums.


The Final Settlement Treaty ends Berlin's special status since 1945 as a separate area under Four Power control. By the terms of the treaty between the FRG and the GDR, Berlin becomes the capital of a unified Germany, but a decision on the seat of government has been left to the Bundestag elected in December 1990. Berlin is also one of the Federal Republic's 16 Laender. Its first united government since 1948 also was elected on December 2, 1990. The opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, was a watershed in the developments which culminated in German unity on October 3, 1990. The infamous 165-kilometer (103 mi.) wall surrounding the Western sectors of the city has been torn down, and the city is being physically reunited as streets, subways, and rail lines are rejoined. Shortly after World War II, Berlin became the seat of the Allied Control Council, which was to govern Germany as a whole until the conclusion of a peace settlement. In 1948, however, the Soviets refused to participate any longer in the quadripartite administration of Germany. At the same time, they also refused to continue to cooperate in the joint administration of Berlin, drove the government elected by the people of Berlin out of its seat in the Soviet sector, and installed a communist regime in its place. Between then and unification, the Western Allies continued to exercise supreme authority (effectively only in their sectors) through the Allied Kommandatura. To the degree compatible with the city's special status, however, they turned over control and management of city affairs to the Berlin Senat (executive) and House of Representatives, governing bodies established by constitutional process and chosen on the basis of free elections. The Allies and the German authorities in the FRG and West Berlin never recognized the communist city regime in East Berlin or GDR authority there. During the years of Berlin's isolation 176 kilometers (110 mi.) inside the former GDR, the Western allies encouraged a close relationship between the government of West Berlin and that of the FRG. Representatives of the city participated as non-voting members in the FRG parliament; appropriate West German agencies, such as the supreme administrative court, had their permanent seats in the city; and the governing mayor of Berlin took his or her turn as president of the Bundesrat. In addition, the Allies carefully consulted with the FRG and Berlin governments on foreign policy questions involving unification and the status of Berlin. The Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin in 1971 also provided for practical improvements in the life of Berliners. It made possible unhindered civilian access to Berlin and greater freedom of movement between the eastern and western sectors for a period of 20 years, in addition to containing a Soviet acknowledgment of the ties that had grown between West Berlin and the FRG, including the latter's right to represent Berlin abroad. Between 1948 and 1990, major events such as fairs and festivals were sponsored in West Berlin, and investment in commerce and industry was encouraged by special concessionary tax legislation. The results of such efforts, combined with effective city administration and the Berliners' energy and spirit, have been encouraging. Berlin's morale has been sustained, and its industrial production has considerably surpassed the prewar level. Although the Allies' responsibility has ended, they have been asked to maintain a military presence in the city until the Soviets have withdrawn completely.


Climate and clothing:
Germany is in the temperate zone but is cooler than much of the United States, especially in summer. Lightweight summer clothing is seldom needed.
Customs and immigrations:
No visa is required of US citizens. Innoculations are not required.
Community sanitation and cleanliness standards are high. Drinking water, dairy products, and other foods are under strict government control and generally meet or exceed US standards.
Telephone and telegraph services, domestic and international, are efficient, although it is still difficult to telephone from the territory of the former GDR. Bonn is 6 hours ahead of eastern standard time.
Frankfurt's international airport is a center of European air traffic. Most airlines operate services to the FRG. Express trains are available. An extensive network of highways (Autobahnen) connects most major cities. Car rentals are expensive but widely available. Third-party liability insurance is mandatory. Mass transportation facilities (trains, streetcars, subways) are crowded but efficient. Taxis are available in all cities.


Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC -- June 1991 -- Editor: Susan Holly Department of State Publication 7834 Background Notes Series -- This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. Contents of this publication are not copyrighted unless indicated. If not copyrighted, the material may be reproduced without consent; citation of the publication as the source is appreciated. Permission to reproduce any copyrighted material (including photos and graphics) must be obtained from the original source.(###)