This Day in the Law
October 3

German Reunification Occurs (1990)

On October 3, 1990, the two former German countries of East and West Germany officially reunited to form the German Democratic Republic (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland). In particular, in the aftermath of the the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany reunited for the first time since shortly after WW II.

In 1949, Germany was officially separated into East and West Germany after WW II. The Allies, including Britain, France, and the United States, controlled West Germany, and the Soviet Union controlled East Germany. The city of Berlin was split into separate sections by the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie became an international recognized location as the midpoint between the two countries.

From 1949 to early 1990, the United States and Soviet Union engaged in the Cold War. During the Cold War, the United States and most Germans advocated for the reunification of Germany and end of the Cold War. Over time, the economic and political tides began to change in the two countries. In May 1990, East and West Germany signed a treaty agreeing to use the common currency of West Germany’s Deutche Mark, and to engage in economic union.

Then, on this day, October 3, 1990, the five formed German states of East Germany including Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia officially joined West Germany’s Federal Republic of Germany. In particular, East Germany dissolved as an official country and broke up into its former German states to join West Germany. In short, West Germany simply absorbed East Germany as five formal states of Germany.

Because East Germany dissolved and merged into West Germany, West Germany remained a party to all its treaties and memberships, such as the United Nations, NATO, and other European organizations. Also, West Germany’s Constitution, called the Basic Law, became the law of former East Germany. So, for all practical purposes, East Germany accepted all the same laws, regulations, treaties, and memberships that West Germany had already entered into.

Today, Germans celebrate this day, October 3, as a national holiday called the Day of German Unity (German: Tag der Deutschen Einheit).