West Germany

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Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt Dead at 96

Was a major figure in Cold War politics

(Newser) - Helmut Schmidt, the chancellor who guided West Germany through economic turbulence and Cold War tensions, stood firm against a wave of homegrown terrorism, and became a respected elder statesman, died Tuesday at age 96. Schmidt, a center-left Social Democrat, led West Germany from 1974 to 1982. He was elected chancellor... More »

East German Who Hailed Fall of Berlin Wall Dies

(Newser) - Guenter Schabowski, the senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, died Sunday at 86. Politburo spokesman Schabowski's halting words at the conclusion of a plodding evening news conference on Nov. 9,... More »

25 Years Ago Today, the Wall Came Down

Merkel salutes end of era, move 'reclaiming freedom'

(Newser) - As Germany celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel honored the memory of the 138 people who died there and paid tribute to those who helped bring down the Wall, calling its collapse an example of the human yearning for freedom.... More »

Nazi Veterans Assembled a Secret Army in 1949

It intended to protect West Germany if the Soviets attacked

(Newser) - It would have made serious waves—had news of it actually come to light. Some 65 years ago, a group of Germans who had fought with the Nazi-era Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS amassed an army. The revelation surfaced by way of a 321-page file unearthed by accident in the archives of... More »

Iron Curtain Still Exists— for Deer

Czech, German animals stay on their own sides of the border

(Newser) - Czech and German deer are way behind when it comes to international politics. The creatures won't cross the Czech border with what used to be West Germany, despite the fall of the Iron Curtain, a study of 300 red deer finds. Researchers used GPS collars to track the deer... More »

Germany Celebrates Fall of the Wall

Twenty years later, unified country celebrates togetherness

(Newser) - Fireworks illuminated the rainy skies above Berlin as Germans and high-profile visitors came together today to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall exactly 20 years ago. President Obama unexpectedly joined the festivities—in a video greeting introduced by Hillary Clinton. "There could be no clearer rebuke of tyranny,... More »

Germany Hails Anniversary of Berlin Wall's Fall

Dominoes, fireworks, music help mark 20 years

(Newser) - Hundreds of foam dominoes will fall today in Berlin, symbolizing the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has called Nov. 9, 1989, "the happiest day in recent German history," will lead the festivities.... More »

Thatcher Urged Gorbachev to Block German Reunification

British leader warned Soviets that the change would endanger security

(Newser) - Margaret Thatcher called on Mikhail Gorbachev to halt German reunification months before the Berlin Wall came down, newly unearthed Kremlin documents reveal. Thatcher—telling the Soviet leader he should disregard NATO pronouncements on the issue—said the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact wasn't in the interests of the West, the... More »

20 Years Later, Berlin Starts Saving Wall

(Newser) - After many years of indifference, Berliners have started getting serious about saving what's left of the most famous symbol of the Cold War, Der Spiegel reports. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, locals viewed it as merely an unfortunate reminder of  a bad past and little thought was given... More »

Lightning-Rod W. German Cop Unmasked as Stasi Spy

Revelation likened to discovering Kent State shooters were KGB agents

(Newser) - The West German cop whose shooting of an unarmed protester in 1967 changed the country forever has been unmasked as an East German spy by historians going through Stasi files, the New York Times reports. The shooting sparked a wide, sometimes violent left-wing protest movement many believe spawned Germany's current... More »

German Tempers Heat Up Over Cold War Tourist Traps

'Snackpoint Charlie,' actors in military uniforms labeled disrespectful to dead

(Newser) - The Disneyfication of Cold War landmarks in Berlin has irked people with bad memories of East Germany, the Independent reports. Critics, including former Allied officers and those who suffered under oppressive rule, argue that the atmosphere around places like Checkpoint Charlie—where actors in military uniforms hustle tourists for coins... More »

'Terrorist Chic' Film Shocks Germany

Baader-Meinhof Complex glorifies violence, say critics

(Newser) - A controversial new film opening this week tackles the darkest chapter in Germany's postwar history: the bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations of a high-profile 1970s leftist group. The team behind The Baader-Meinhof Complex, which stars several of Germany's biggest celebrities, calls it an attempt to debunk myths about the gang. But... More »

Helmut Kohl, 78, Marries Girlfriend in Hospital

Health fears mount for architect of German reunification

(Newser) - Helmut Kohl, the chancellor first of West Germany and then of a reunified Federal Republic, has married at the age of 78. But the wedding, to an economist 30 years his junior, took place in a hospital amid fears that he is in deteriorating health. As the Independent reports, Kohl's... More »

Germany's FBI Faces Up to Nazi Roots

Security service's founders were behind thousands of deaths

(Newser) - The German equivalent of the FBI has acknowledged what everyone already knew: It was founded by Nazis. The agency is inviting historians to explore those dark roots, making it the first German security organization to do so, Der Spiegel reports. Owning up to the past is the only way to... More »

14 Stories