The Politics of Division

Over the four years of occupation, Germans on both sides assumed more and more administrative tasks and functions. The next step was obvious and perhaps inevitable: in May 1949, the three western occupation zones constituted themselves as a new independent state, the Federal Republic of Germany. Shortly thereafter, the Communist-controlled eastern zone proclaimed its own statehood, the German Democratic Republic.

In the first elections for the West German Bundestag, Konrad Adenauer, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was chosen as the first federal chancellor. To no one’s surprise, the first elections for the Volkskammer, the East German parliament, resulted in an overwhelming victory for the Socialist Unity Party (SED), basically the reassembled Communist Party with a sprinkling of some docile Social Democrats.

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