What were the key reasons for German reunification in October 1990?

  • Created by: becky.65
  • Created on: 21-05-18 14:50

Different levels of prosperity in the GDR and FRG:

  • 1980s - FRG was a prosperous, developed member of the EEC; its citizens enjoyed a high standard of living
  • 1980s - GDR's economy failed to develop in a sustainable fashion; facing significant difficulties
  • FRG enjoyed significant advantages over the GDR:
    • main industrial lands of Germany in the Rurh and Saarland were part of the FRG and fuelled their economic growth
    • GDR lacked any major areas of raw materials and was mainly agricultural
    • GDR had a smaller population
    • GDR suffered more extensively from reparations from the USSR
    • 1960s - GDR attempted economic reforms but these failed to provide a basis for economic growth
    • GDR's economy suffered from massive spending on defence and bureaucracy
    • GDR was committed to providing a social welfare system that was difficult to sustain
  • 1970s - growing social welfare costs, a weak economic system and rising fuel costs were causing mounting problems for the GDR
  • To solve its economic problems, the GDR borrowed money through foreign loans and ignored the need to invest in its industries
  • GDR found itself reliant on financial assistance from the FRG
  • However, the GDR had the most successful Eastern European economy
  • 1980s - economic system was in decline
  • 1983/4 - GDR was forced to negotiate extensive loans from the FRG to prop up its economic system
  • To disguise the economic downturn, Honecker kept up spending on the social welfare system, which pushed the GDR into more spiralling debts
  • GDR suffered from some of the worst environmental issues in Europe as they could not afford to modernise equipment and reduce pollution
  • late 1980s - GDR's level of harmful carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide emissions was the highest in the world
  • Forests in the GDR were under threat from acid rain
  • Respiratory illnesses caused by pollution were twice of the European average
  • 1989 - average lifespan of a GDR citizen was 2.5 years less for men and 7 less for women, compared to the GDR
  • mid-1980s - GDR's economy was in a severe crisis:
    • could no longer afford its social welfare system
    • could not invest in modernisation of its industrial technology
    • attempt to build the world's largest microchip cost the GDR one billion marks and failed to achieve its goal
  • The ability of the government to supply citizens with consumer goods they wanted was becoming more difficult
  • The quality of goods was low and purchased goods took a long time to arrive
  • The poor comparison between the GDR and FRG was seen through West German television shows that East Germans were able to watch and through contact with West German citizens
  • Problems were accentuated by the policies of Gorbachev; his economic reforms in the USSR put Honecker under pressure to develop similar reforms
  • The leadership of the SED refused to accept the need to reform
  • As more East Germans travelled and then migrated to the West, there was a growing awareness of the massive divergence between the GDR and the FRG
  • The loss of manpower weakened…


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