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Germany Twenty Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

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Reiner Marcowitz, Université de Metz

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German unification, the two events seem completely “historized” – ostensibly belonging to the past. One reason for this is the 1992 opening of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) archives and the ensuing extensive research of nearly every aspect of the political and social system of the former communist state in East Germany. Historians namely examined the mechanisms of the political and social systems (including the work of the “Stasi”), foreign relations, as well as the history of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of 1989/90. As a consequence, it is unlikely, with the exception of certain details, that new revelations emerge concerning the German unification. Nonetheless, the question of the interior and international “legitimacy” of the former GDR still remains to be examined, as it is one of the aspects that can explain the complete and rapid decline of the SED as well as the GDR’s sudden end. Finally, another field of research becomes apparent: that of the consequences of the unification. The former Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) grew and its structures and traditions changed; furthermore, important parts of the political party system, the social structures and the foreign policy of the new Germany were also changed. Without forgetting the burden of its particular past, today’s FRG is a more “europeanized” and “normalized” state than it was before 1989/90.