The Costs of German Division

A Research Report

in German Politics and Society


In many countries, the process of German unification is of continued interest. While the fact that peaceful unification was possible is generally appreciated, the costs of unification seem to still be of great concern. Yet, they have always to be seen in relationship to costs of division. It may be impossible to work out exactly the final sum of costs of German division. We searched for costs that occurred for the Federal Republic of Germany (frg) since 1949 and what we put together is, admittedly, an incomplete compilation, as it is a difficult undertaking which has not been done before. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to calculate the costs the German Democratic Republic (gdr) paid for division. Thus, we can only present an estimate. Costs of division as juxtaposed to unification costs will show that unification in Germany is not even twice as expensive as was division. Many of these costs facilitated normalization and the opening up of East Germany—in the end they turned out to be a most valuable prepayment for German unification.

On 3 October 1990, Germany achieved formal unification. Even 27 years later, however, inner unity has yet to be completed and there are ongoing discussions about the overall costs. This is a widely debated topic in many countries, but especially in a South Korea contemplating reunification with the North at one point, where the accomplishment of German unification is lauded while the costs are presented as being prohibitive.1

Whoever enumerates costs also has to consider savings and benefits as well. Weighting what has been achieved, German unification is surely worth its price. One should never forget that the division of Germany was extremely burdensome with financial, economic, psychological, social, and political costs. Many of these expenses ceased with unification, but some continued albeit labelled differently. Moreover, the onset of unification costs meant the end of costs of division. For example, starting 1 July 1990, when a currency union was implemented between East and West Germany, no more transit fees were paid to the still-existing German Democratic Republic (gdr), which meant savings of up to dm 915 million.

The division of Germany lasted for 40 years and was not free of charge. So far, these expenses have not been recorded comprehensively. This article tries to compile the best estimates and presents an initial, interim balance. In attempting such an assessment, we are well aware of methodological problems and that there are many costs we could not yet list properly, e.g., the costs for emergency reception of refugees from the East (Notaufnahmelager), or for large holding centers like at Berlin-Lichterfelde, Giessen, and Uelzen. Furthermore, the division of Germany caused immense human suffering but these enormous human capital (and psychological) costs can hardly be expressed in concrete figures.

Definitions, Estimate of Total Costs and a Conceptual Dilemma

Theoretically the establishment of costs should not be a problem, as they are just “figures,” objective indicators. The costs of division and unification, however, are highly political in nature, and are therefore subjectively interpreted and emotionally charged. Moreover, there is no agreed set of definitions, so that the enumeration of such costs will remain subject for continued debate. Simply put, the costs of division are those that occurred because Germany was divided, as well as the costs that were higher than usual because of division. This presents a conceptual dilemma because it is difficult, if not impossible, to precisely say how much more had to be paid because of Germany’s division.

Improvements of the infrastructure would have been necessary in any case. Examples include the building of an Autobahn between Berlin and Hamburg, or the construction of bridges. But, because of division, such costs were much higher. The construction of the highway just mentioned across the territory of East Germany did cost 6, but in the East dm 11 million (not billion). All of this was paid by the Federal Republic (frg). How much cheaper it would have been in a united Germany, we cannot determine with great certainty.

Developments in Germany after 1945 were so complex that it is almost impossible to precisely differentiate between various types of costs. For example, are payments for the resettlement of ethnic Germans from Romania to Germany follow-up costs because of the war or costs of division? In 1990, Chancellor Helmut Kohl told the French president that 160,000 Germans still lived in Romania: “Ceauşescu enriched himself with these Germans. Every year we paid for the release of 15,000 to 20,000 Germans. Ceauşescu himself pocketed all this money.”2

The largest single item we identified is subsidies for Berlin (West), but here it is difficult to determine from which federal ministry’s budget the specific amounts actually originated. Another example is the buyout-scheme for political prisoners, where the Federal Republic paid the gdr for their release. There are no official documents which explicitly use this term; quite often the “transaction” is camouflaged with words like “business with churches,”3 because church institutions and lawyers handled the transfers. Nevertheless, the amount paid to East Germany can more or less be ascertained.

We tried our best to avoid doubling figures, but a general selective categorization seems to be almost impossible. Late sequelae of the gdr, like the rehabilitation of environmentally degraded areas and compensation for victims of political persecution, have not been included in our compilation, because with continued division they would not have fallen due.

As mentioned above, to the best of our knowledge, there is no systematic recording of costs of German division so far, just individual sums and general estimates. This is the case because many payments were not made directly but with the involvement of private and semi-private institutions. It is quite often difficult to decide whether payments were made exclusively because of Germany’s division or whether they were meant to support infrastructure and the economy in border areas. Likewise, it is hard to say what the “normal costs” would have been in a united Germany and what the “added premium” was because of the country’s division. Finally, there is also not yet a precise definition of costs of division that enjoys widespread approval.

Global Estimates

Peter Gey, analyzing the economic relations between the two German states, concluded that on the average private and public budgets transferred dm 4 billion every year to the gdr, which over forty years amounts to a total of about dm 160 billion.4 In 1990, Federal Finance Minister Theo Waigel said that the frg spent dm 40 billion because of Germany’s division.5 It remains unclear what precisely he referred to, costs of division or money needed to overcome the consequences of division? According to an internal compilation of the ministry, however, in the year 1989 alone, the Federal Republic paid dm 26 billion because of division.6 A letter dated 10 November 1989 from Waigel to Kohl reads:

Every year for postal communication and transport the gdr receives 1.1 billion. For the protection of the environment we have joint projects with the gdr, which stretch over several years, costing 300 million dm. The gdr earns about 1.4 billion in foreign currency from travellers coming from the Federal Republic. To cope with problems in connection with resettlement we have earmarked 500 million dm in the budget plan for 1990.7

In February 1990, Helmut Kohl and the then Prime Minister of the gdr, Hans Modrow, met in Bonn and the visitor asked for non-tied financial assistance, which the chancellor was unwilling to grant in the amount requested and anyway wanted to give financial help only to a freely elected government. The delegation from the gdr reacted to this obvious hesitation and demanded a kind of solidarity contribution from the Federal Republic. Waigel retorted, pointing out that in public budgets for the year 1990 altogether 31.4 billion were earmarked for contributions to East Germany. “The federal budget for 1990 alone contains about 30 billion of expenses which are connected with the division of Germany. In a supplementary budget an additional 5 billion dm have been designated for quick help.”8 These figures contradict the minister’s statement that the division did cost dm 40 billion, when according to his own words, the federal budget of 1990 alone designated dm 30 billion “connected with the division of Germany.”

In February 1990, at Camp David, Chancellor Kohl informed his host, President George H.W. Bush that people in Germany were very much in favor of unification. Yet, at the same time, there were worries about possible sacrifices. Kohl emphasized that sacrifices and costs would not be that great and they should be seen in contrast to the expenses of the “anomaly” because division did cost enormous sums, for example, to maintain “Berlin 22 billion dm, and the Zonenrandprivilegien an additional 30 billion dm every year.”9 Here, he was referring to a special program for an area along the western side of the inner-German border, a strip twenty-five miles wide, which was provided additional financial support and reduced tax rates.10

Kohl’s words were not very precise and it is not quite clear which period he was talking about. dm 22 billion for Berlin (West) und 30 for the border areas would be dm 52 billion per year. The relevant law for the support of Berlin (Berlinförderungsgesetz) was applied from 1951 to 1989, during that time, among other payments, dm 74 billion were granted as tax reduction and the federal subsidy for Berlin’s budget was dm 105 billion, a combined amount of dm 179 billion, if for every year dm 30 billion for the border area would be added additionally, we would end up with a truly astronomical figure.

In September 2001, Egon Bahr visited Korea and met with Lim Dongwon, a close associate of President Kim Dae-jung. He told his Korean host that “in the years from the Basic Treaty to the completion of unification, West Germany had provided about u.s. $60—an annual average of u.s. $3.2 billion—to East Germany in the name of various projects.”11 Obviously, there exist vague definitions and a number of quite different estimates: about dm 160 billion for the time between 1949 and 1989, or perhaps dm 40 billion for the same period, or about dm 36 billion for the year of 1990 alone, or u.s. $60 billion for the time from 1973 to 1990. Unfortunately, it is impossible to clarify who used which criteria for these figures.

A general survey of costs of German division should also take into account expenses that occurred in the gdr. Such a tabulation, among other items, would need to include:

  • The costs of border fortifications, loss of agricultural land and residential areas, as well as additional personnel.
  • The costs of the quite comprehensive surveillance and control apparatus of the East German regime.
  • Expenses for the stationing of Soviet troops according to an agreement that was concluded in 1957, which also provided for a very disadvantageous exchange rate. “For 5.50 Mark the gdr received in Moscow from the comecon Bank just one ruble, which was 2.5 times worse as compared to normal business transactions.”12
  • There was an enormous brain drain. From its founding until the first half of 1990 about 3.8 million people left the gdr. From the end of the World War II until 3 October 1990, about 4.6 million people left East Germany—almost 50 percent of them were below the age of thirty. For the time span between 1954 and 1960 the figure is about 1.5 million, among them 62,097 highly qualified people, which belonged to the functional élite of the state, e.g., administrators, artists, dentists, engineers, judges, lawyers, medical doctors, pharmacists, professors, teachers and writers.13 “According to figures from the federal institution to process refugees from the gdr, between 1 January 1954 and 30 November 1961, to give just one example, 17,877 teachers and 769 professors left the gdr.”14 This aspect again shows the methodological challenges with which we are quite often confronted. The brain drain from the gdr was almost automatically a brain gain for the frg. If we differentiate between three levels, east, west and all of Germany, one side lost, the other side gained, but there was not much difference for all of Germany. In a united country, there would have been mobility as well, a different kind of mobility, but because of political circumstances caused by division, here the loss, the costs for the gdr, were definitely much greater.

Comparisons between earnings and expenses could make such a compilation even more expressive, for example, through the buyout-scheme of political prisoners financed by the Federal Republic. Depending on the exchange rate, the gdr earned about three times more the amount which was spent for the construction of border fortifications, which presumably did cost at least Eastern Marks 1.8 billion. According to estimates from the early 1960s, the “first generation” of the Wall did cost more than dm 100 million.15

Miscellaneous Items

(1) The Federal Ministry for All-German Questions, since 1969 the Federal Ministry for Inner-German Relations—this ministry was the ministry for unification, however, when unification was actually achieved, it was closed down. It is impossible to say how much this ministry really contributed to the process that finally led to Germany’s unification. As a response to Stalin’s note of March 1952,16 the ministry set up a research council for questions of unification and its members did detailed studies, for example, on how to privatize East Germany’s state-planned economy after unification.17 With the pursuit of Ostpolitik, the council was progressively down-sized and became increasingly dormant. It was felt to be politically inopportune while striving for normalization and rapprochement with the gdr, at the same time, planning its demise. In 1990, when indeed the economy of East Germany was fundamentally and rapidly transformed, the expertise of the research council was ignored. The ministry did exist as long as Germany was divided and its accumulated budgets from 1950 to 1990 amounting to more than dm 14.4 billion; cum grano salis they are division costs.

While looking at the ministry’s budgets it can be said that none of these outlays would have occurred, because the ministry would not have existed, had Germany been unified at that time. Nevertheless, some of the educational programs like the numerous information trips for students from the frg to West Berlin, when they also visited East Berlin, contributed significantly to the maintenance of an all-German identity and arguably a feeling of solidarity on both sides, which later was one of the motivating forces for the peaceful revolution in the gdr in 1989–1990.18

(2) Interzonal trade, “swing” and credits—“Interzonal trade” (Interzonen-handel) was the term used for economic relations between East and West in divided Germany. Since 1951, this cooperation was exercised in a more institutionalized fashion and was significant also because West Berlin was included. In connection with that interzonal trade, the Federal Republic granted the gdr an interest-free loan, called “swing,” which in 1951 was dm 30 million and rose over the years to an amount of dm 850 million. The “swing” was taken up differently and on the average helped East Germany save about dm 36 million in interest payments. Even more significant and valuable was the fact that the frg did not regard the gdr as a foreign country, a view also subscribed by other European Economic Community (eec) members, which meant, trade with the gdr was not classified as foreign trade. For that reason, while insisting on the existence of two German states, East Germany enjoyed paying no customs, and for inner-German trade a reduced rate of value added tax (vat) was applied. Moneywise, the loss of customs revenues in the 1980s was on average about dm 300 million every year—for the year 1989 the preferential treatment of the vat was about dm 420 million.

In the summer of 1983, Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski19 had talks with Franz-Josef Strauß, a prominent politician in the Federal Republic, about the granting of credits to the gdr.20 As a result, East Germany received two soft loans about dm 1 billion and 950 million each, provided by state and private banks and guaranteed by the government of the Federal Republic—the risk was minimal because the lump sum for transit was used as collateral. The money did not come from the federal budget, but was rather provided by banks, which they could have used for more profitable purposes. Therefore, the loans, with some retrenchments, may also be classified as costs of division. Here again, caution is well advised. In a united country, such loans could be categorized as “normal” financial transaction, but because of Germany’s division, more favorable conditions were granted for political purposes. In retrospect, however, it is difficult to determine the exact difference as compared to other potential loans with the same risk at the same time.

These loans were part of the policy of normalization (Ostpolitik) pursued by the Federal Republic. They had a low financial risk for the creditors, and they reinforced the experience of positive interdependence between the two German states. In the end, they could not prevent the implosion of the gdr, but it is hard to say whether and how much they contributed to its collapse in 1989. Ostpolitik first had a stabilizing, later, gradually, a destabilizing effect on East Germany. At the latest since 1984, the gdr was increasingly embedded in forms of international cooperation, which expanded its dependency. For example, an easing of travel restrictions had to be implemented, as well as other humanitarian measures. Likewise, the expectation of the population concerning positive changes grew substantially.

(3) Subsidies for West Berlin; lump sums for transit, and road construction—West Berlin could not survive on its own. For both political and humanitarian reasons, the city had to be supported, especially after the erection of the Berlin Wall in August 1961. The largest amount among the costs of division was subsidies for Berlin, which were essential for the viability of the city. This is another example where it is quite difficult to determine how much more money was needed because of Germany’s division. In 2017, Berlin, united since 1990, still receives financial support, as do other federal states (Länder), for example, Saarland in the west of Germany, bordering France. These payments are a kind of burden sharing which is practiced within the federal system of Germany. The equalization payments (Länderfinanzausgleich) are the main component of a system of redistribution of financial resources between the federation and the Länder. It is obvious that because of division, West Berlin received much higher subsidies. Nevertheless, further research will be needed to come up with more precise figures, to show and to better understand the difference between the pre 1990 period and today.

At times, about 50 percent or more of Berlin’s budget came from the Federal Government, money which was used for a variety of purposes, including numerous benefits for the inhabitants and considerable tax incentives for business. In 1989, because of the loss of tax revenue due to the revocation of the Cold War laws supporting Berlin, this meant a reduction of dm 4.8 billion for the federal budget. Not only was West Berlin supported, but the border region abutting the gdr as well. Generously subsidized since 1951, estimates differ widely regarding the overall amount of support, ranging from dm 3.4 up to 40 billion. It is impossible to verify these figures accurately.

The Four Power Agreement on Berlin of September 1971 greatly improved travel and communication between the two parts of the divided city, as well as the transit routes between West Berlin and the Federal Republic across the territory of the gdr for which the East German government received several payments. Most likely, the travel lump sum was the largest single item of its earnings of hard currency from the frg—here again, the costs of division for the West were gains for the East. In 1972, the amount was dm 234.9 million, which through negotiations in the 1980s, increased from dm 850 to 950 million every year. The total amount from 1972 to 1990 is estimated to be about dm 8 billion. For maintenance, new roads, bridges, border crossing check points, etc., the Federal Republic paid about dm 2.2 billion to the gdr.

(4) Buyout-scheme for political prisoners; obligatory exchange rate for visitors; “welcome money;” exchange of territories—between 1963 and 1989, the frg paid dm 3.5 billion for a buyout-scheme which led to the release of 33,755 East German prisoners and their exit to West Germany.21 Under this arrangement, 2,000 children were reunited with their parents. Moreover, there were more than 250,000 family reunions.

Other costs of division occurred on the state and the private level and it is not always possible to make a clear distinction between them. Those who entered the gdr had to change a certain amount of money at a fixed, unfavorable, rate. This “entrance fee” had to be paid from 1963 to the end of 1989 and it earned the East German regime about dm 4.5 billion, and parts of this sum can legitimately be booked as costs of division. Visitors would have spent money anyway, but because of division there was an exchange rate affected by political considerations instead of market forces, which made the visit more expensive.

Those who wanted to leave the gdr temporarily for an approved visit to the frg or West Berlin from 1970 until 29 December 1989 received “welcome money” in the West, amounting to a large portion of the costs of division, which is nevertheless very difficult to calculate. In a Bundestag document of March 1993 it was said that information about the total amount paid from official budgets was no longer available.22 There is, however, some indication that from 9 November 1989 when the Wall opened until early December 1989 alone about dm 1.8 billion was paid.23 Because of the large number of visitors in December, it can be assumed that a similar amount was disbursed—a total of approximately dm 3 to 4 billion just for November and December 1989. That considered, the total amount since 1970 may exceed dm 6 billion. Regardless of what the exact amount was, visitors from the gdr spent most of their “welcome money” in the West. It was, therefore, a kind of development aid for the West German economy caused by the division of the country. Finally, West Berlin and the gdr exchanged territories, respectively Berlin bought some land. The gdr received altogether dm 111 million for these transactions.24

(5) Costs for the stationing of Allied forces—many in the frg and West Berlin had the impression that over the time of division, the Western allies changed from occupants to protectors—protection that was, however, not free of charge. For the stationing of allied troops, for construction purposes, and contributions to nato from 1950 to 1990 the Federal Republic paid at least dm 52 billion.

(6) Payments to churches in the gdr—it was not just the West German state in its various organizational guises that spent tax money due to Germany’s division, so did the churches. In the Federal Republic, church tax is collected by the state on behalf of the two main denominations (Protestant and Catholic). In 1953, the gdr stopped doing so, thereby considerably reducing the financial means of churches on its territory. The Protestant Church in the Federal Republic actually paid the salaries for pastors in East Germany as well as other expenses.25 Out of Christian charity transfers most probably would have been made in a united Germany as well, but they can nevertheless be classified as a kind of division cost—since 1950 probably an amount between dm 1.6 and 3.8 billion. It was money well spent, because in 1989/1990 the church-based opposition played a significant role in the peaceful revolution that helped to transform East Germany profoundly.26 Even earlier, churches acted as go-betweens and, in a hidden way, handled money coming from the West for humanitarian purposes, e.g., the freeing of political prisoners in the gdr.

An Incomplete Table

In this article, we have tried to identify as many items as possible, which can be considered as contributing to the costs of division. It may be difficult if not impossible to come up with a completely accurate total. How, for example, should we calculate the costs that occurred in the gdr, or exchange rates, or monetary estimates of “humanitarian relief,” etc.? Likewise, it is almost impossible to say how much the famous airlift cost, when a Soviet blockade isolated West Berlin in 1948–1949. Hence, the sums we compiled so far are indicative—the grand total is an estimate, a kind of order of magnitude. Table 1 contains our detailed enumeration of our best estimates, which is admittedly, a compilation with gaps. Estimated Direct and Indirect Costs from the Division of Germany for the Federal Republic27

Itemized CostsTime spanTotal amount in dm
Budgets of the Ministries for All-German, respectively Inner-German Relations1950–199014,448,482,500
Subsidies for West Berlin by the frg1950–1990217,383,247,700
Reduced tax revenue for the Federal Republic because of Berlin subsidies19894,800,000,000
Subsidies for areas in West Germany bordering the gdr; social, economic, cultural programs1974–19903,423,775,061
Costs for allied troops (construction, nato infrastructure, financial contribution to the costs of stationing troops in the Federal Republic, etc.)1950–199052,433,331,500
Obligatory fee for visitors to the gdr1964–19894,500,000,000
Buyout-scheme of political prisoners, financial support for the integration of former prisoners, refugees, and similar humanitarian programs? since 1963 at the latest8,589,000,000
Holding center and provisional accommodation for refugees in Berlin-Marienfelde1955–1990246,039,757
Various payments for people that moved from the gdr to the Federal Republic?2,700,000,000
Financial assistance of the frg for the construction of temporary lodging for immigrants?500,000,000
“Welcome money” for visitors from the gdr1984–19904,071,903,328
Lump sum for postal services1967–19891,880,000,000
“Transit lump sum” and visa fees (transit across the territory of the gdr)1972–19897,800,000,000
Construction, expansion and maintenance of transit routes between West Berlin and the frg across the territory of the Gdr?4,600,000,000
Fines to be paid for violation of traffic rules committed by drivers from West Germany and West Berlin on the transit routes in the gdr2819847,000,000
Exchange of territory between the gdr and West Berlin1971–1988111,000,000
Medical assistance for citizens from the gdr during their temporary stay in the Federal Republic198843,000,000
Financial partnership arrangements of the Protestant Church for gdr parishes (basic requirements, personnel expenditure, construction expenses, incidentals, etc.)1950–19901,683,153,000

An Interim Balance

Irwin L. Collier, an economist at Freie Universität Berlin, used the figures we compiled and calculated the 1990 sum of the principal and interest on the division costs (1950–1990) as being dm 975 billion in 1990 prices. To convert that sum into present day euros it was divided by the conversion factor (1.95583 dm/euro). Because the German consumer price index has increased about 59 percent, the sum was multiplied by 1.59. Thus, the overall costs of German division in March 2015 prices were at least euro 776 billion.

We are not yet able to say anything more concrete about the combined costs of division for East and West Germany, which of course were much higher than the amount mentioned above. With a somewhat rough comparison of figures one has to conclude that division was cheaper than unification. From a normative or political perspective unification, however, is much better—and not only for Germany.

Indeed, in retrospect, much of the costs of division proved to be investments for the future. In fact, they were prepayments for a unification that was not to be expected in the concrete sense during the Cold War. Lothar de Maizière, the first and last democratically elected prime minister of the gdr, stated quite often that division could be overcome only by sharing.29 That approach was practiced in Germany before and after unification. These sentiments have also been echoed by former Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who emphasized that certain costs of division can turn out to be an investment into a joint future, and he did so with a comparative look at Germany and Korea:

Over the past decade, what did we exchange with the North? First, for13 years through succeeding administrations of Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung and Rho Moo-hyun, we gave rice and fertilizer worth 2 billion dollars to the North, which is about 150 million dollars a year, or 5,000 won per person. Looking at West Germany, which was in the same situation as Korea, [it] spent 60 billion dollars for East Germany over two decades. That was translated into 3.2 billion dollars a year, which was 20 times higher than ours. The more West Germany assisted, the more active the inter-German exchanges became, by which people in the East grew wistful of the West and came to dissent from Communism. After all East Germany joined West Germany at her own will to reach unification.30

With the figures available to us so far, hypothetically adding by costs of division presumably born by the gdr, it is safe to conclude that an estimate of costs of division as juxtaposed to an estimate of unification costs will show that unification in Germany is not even twice as expensive as was division. In the end, the money spent during the period of division—the costs—were both meaningful and good policy, as they, among other factors, helped to pave the way for German unification, which, despite all the problems and individual hardship, is well worth its price.


Only gradually, a more comprehensive view at costs of division and unification was applied to the Korean case. Victor Cha, “Korean Unification is Affordable,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 27 March 2003, 23.


Dokumente zur Deutschlandpolitik: Deutsche Einheit, Sonderedition aus den Akten des Bundeskanzleramtes 1989/90, Bundesministerium des Innern, Bundesarchiv, bearbeitet von Hanns Jürgen Küsters and Daniel Hoffmann (Munich, 1998), 688.


Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski, Deutsch-deutsche Erinnerungen (Reinbek, 2001), 166.


Peter Gey, Die Wirtschaftsbeziehungen zwischen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik 1949–1989, Seoul, Office of Friedrich Ebert Foundation, no year given, 15; available at, accessed 26 July 2017.


“Die Rechnung kommt später, ” Der Spiegel, 36, 3 September 1990, 135.


Letter from Hartmut Koschyk, Vice-Minister of Finance, 8 October 2012, responding to a request to list the costs of German division.


Dokumente zur Deutschlandpolitik (see note 2), 510.


Ibid., p. 823.


Ibid., p. 870.See also Bundesarchiv, (Federal Archives), BArch/BK, 21–30100 (56) Ge 28 (VS) Band 80, Bl. 113–138.


Hans-Jörg Sander, Das Zonenrandgebiet, Problemräume Europas, vol 4 (Cologne, 1988).


Dong-won Lim, Peacemaker, Twenty Years of Inter-Korean-Relations and the North Korean Nuclear Issue (Stanford/Baltimore, 2012), 367.


Lothar de Maizière, Ich will, dass meine Kinder nicht mehr lügen müssen. Meine Geschichte der deutschen Einheit (Freiburg im Breisgau, 2010), 250.


Bundesministerium für gesamtdeutsche Fragen, ed., A-Z, Ein Taschen- und Nachschlagebuch über den anderen Teil Deutschlands (Bonn, 1969), 213. Klaus-M. von Keussler and Peter Schulenburg, Fluchthelfer. Die Gruppe um Wolfgang Fuchs (Berlin, 2011), 27.


Oskar Anweiler, “Bildung und Wissenschaft” in Handbuch zur deutschen Einheit 1949, 1989–1999, ed. Werner Weidenfeld and Karl-Rudolf Korte (Bonn, 1999), 78.


Burkhart Veigel, Wege durch die Mauer. Fluchthilfe und Stasi zwischen Ost und West, (Berlin, 2011), 424.


Rolf Steininger, The German Question: The Stalin Note of 1952 and the Problem of Reunification (New York, 1990).


For the history of the research council see Markus Gloe, Planung für die deutsche Einheit. Der Forschungsbeirat für Fragen der Wiedervereinigung 1952 bis 1975 (Wiesbaden, 2005); Roland Wöller, Der Forschungsbeirat für Fragen der Wiedervereinigung 1952–1975, Zur politischen und wissenschaftlichen Diskussion der wirtschaftlichen Wiedervereinigung (Düsseldorf, 2004).


See here, among others, Gareth Dale, The East German Revolution of 1989 (Manchester, 2006).; Jonathan G. Greenwald, Berlin Witness: An American Diplomat’s Chronicle of East Germany’s Revolution (University Park, 1993).


A prominent cadre of the Communist Party (sed) and an officer of the secret police (Stasi), he was charged with earning foreign currency for his state through various channels and deals. In December 1989 this “exchange procurer” defected to the frg.


Manfred Kittel, “Franz-Josef Strauß und der Milliardenkredit an die ddr 1983,” Deutsch-land Archiv, 40, no. 4 (2007): 647–656.


Ludwig A. Rehlinger, Freikauf. Die Geschäfte der ddr mit politisch Verfolgten 1963–1989 (Berlin, 1991). See also Maximilian Horster, “The Trade in Political Prisoners between the Two German States, 1962–1989,” Journal of Contemporary History 39 (2004): 403–424. Jan Philipp Wölbern, Der Häftlingsfreikauf aus der ddr, 1962/63–1989. Zwischen Menschenhandel und humanitären Aktionen (Göttingen 2014).


This was the answer of a vice-minister to the question of a member of parliament on 9 March 1993. Drucksache 12/4557, Nr. 20, 11; available at, accessed 26 July 2017, accessed 26 July 2017.


This figure was mentioned by Helmut Kohl to President George H.W. Bush when they met at Laeken near Brussels on 3 December 1989. The chancellor added: “It cannot go on like this.” Dokumente zur Deutschlandpolitik (see note 2), 601.


Hans H. Mahnke, Dokumente zur Berlin-Frage 1967–1986 (Munich, 1987), 299ff.


Karoline Rittberger-Klas, Kirchenpartnerschaften im geteilten Deutschland. Am Beispiel der Landeskirchen Württemberg und Thüringen (Göttingen, 2006).


On this aspect of the peaceful revolution in East Germany see Christian Führer, Und wir sind dabei gewesen. Die Revolution, die aus der Kirche kam (Berlin, 2008); and Ehrhart Neubert, Eine protestantische Revolution (Berlin, 1990).


The figures mostly come from official budgets.


In any given country, violating traffic rules is punishable. Doing so in the gdr, however, was quite often arbitrary. Drivers from the west had to pay in hard currency and this revenue was regarded by the secret police of the gdr as being of economic significance to the state. We could only trace out a figure for the year 1984.


Remarks of Kim Dae-jung at a conference in Seoul on 16 December 2008; available at, accessed 16 March 2017.

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Contributor Notes

Werner Pfennig (Dr. rer. pol., Freie Universität Berlin) taught political science until his retirement at Freie Universität Berlin. Among his recent publications is a bibliography on the process of German unification.

Vu Tien Dung studied in Germany, Korea, and the u.s., received a ba from Freie Universität Berlin, was working with a project on the German unification process at the Institute of Korean Studies at this university and is presently with the University of Giessen.

Alexander Pfennig (Diploma in Political Science, at Freie Universität Berlin) studied in Germany and at Yale University as a Fox International Fellow, he did research at Harvard University; as a research fellow at the Institute of Korean StudiesFreie Universität Berlin, he is member of the project team on the German unification process, and is presently at Yonsei University in Seoul with a grant from the Korea Foundation.