Reunification of Germany

Post-Cold War Europe

Europe 1990.1003

Reunification of Germany

Europe after the Cold War (3 October 1990)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria threw off Communist rule shortly after East Germany, marking the effective end of the Cold War. On October 3, 1990, East and West Germany were reunited after 45 years of division.

Main Events

Velvet Revolution

On 17 November 1989, a violent state crackdown on student protests sparked mass demonstrations in Prague. After seven days, the entire top leadership of the Czechoslovak Communist Party resigned. By December 29, single-party rule was abolished, with Prague Spring leader Alexander Dubček appointed Prime Minister and playwright/dissident Václav Havel appointed President.

Romanian Revolution

On 16 December 1989, demonstrations by ethnic Hungarians erupted in the city of Timișoara, followed by a violent crackdown by the Romanian military. On 21 December, President Nicolae Ceaușescu attempted to address the public in Bucharest, only for the crowd to erupt in protest. The following day, the Armed Forces defected to the side of the protesters, arrested Ceaușescu, and proclaimed dissident Ion Iliescu President. Ceaușescu and his wife Elena were tried and convicted on 24 December and executed on December 25.

End of the Single-Party Rule in Bulgaria

In November 1989, moderate Communists within the Bulgarian government ousted long-time State Council Chairman Todor Zhivkov, replacing him with his foreign minister and rival Petar Mladenov. Following Mladenov's announcement to the public, on 15 January 1990 the National Assembly officially ended single-party rule by the Communists.

Lithuania declares independence from the Soviet Union

Outbreak of the Gulf War

To finance the 1980-88 war against Iran, Iraq had borrowed heavily from the Emirate of Kuwait, and in 1989 lobbied to have its debt to that country forgiven. Kuwait's refusal to forgive Iraq's debt led Iraq to invade Kuwait on 2 August 1990 and claim it as a province.

German reunification

The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany (until this point often called West Germany), forming a reunited Germany. The capital of the Federal Republic was moved from Bonn to Berlin, although its government and membership in international organizations remained unchanged. The historical East German states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia were re-established as German states.

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