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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany

The German Question Today: One Nation or Two?

Until the 1970s, the governments of both East Germany and West Germany went to great lengths to preserve the concept of a united Germany. Both cast themselves in the role of national protector; both claimed to embody all that was good in the German culture and heritage and to speak for all German people; and both purported to be working toward the reunification of divided Germany. At the same time, officials in the two Germanies initiated policies aimed at developing a base of popular loyalty to their separate governments. This necessarily meant implementing certain policies that were contradictory to the goal of unification. Nationhood, national identity, and nationalism became concepts defined by official policy and manipulated to affirm the legitimacy of the state. The balance struck by each of the governments between an apparent desire for unity and the development of a separate "state consciousness" is at the heart of the "German question."

Data as of July 1987