World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko was a Soviet Belarusian communist politician during the Cold War. He served as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. Gromyko was responsible for many top decisions on Soviet foreign policy until he retired in 1988. In the 1940s Western pundits called him Mr. Nyet or "Grim Grom", because of his frequent use of the Soviet veto in the United Nations Security Council. Gromyko's political career started in 1939 with his employment at the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, he became the Soviet ambassador to the United States in 1943, leaving in 1946 to become the Soviet Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Upon his return to the Soviet Union he became a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, he went on to become the Soviet ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1952. During his tenure as Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, Gromyko was directly involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis and helped broker a peace treaty ending the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.
Under Brezhnev's leadership, he played a central role in the establishment of detente with the United States through his negotiation of the ABM Treaty, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, SALT I & II, among others. As Brezhnev's health declined during the latter years of his leadership, Gromyko formed a troika with KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov and Defense Minister Dmitriy Ustinov that dominated decision-making in Moscow. Henceforth, Gromyko's conservatism and hardline attitudes towards the West dictated the course of Soviet foreign policy until the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. Following Gorbachev's election as General Secretary, Gromyko lost his office as foreign minister and was appointed to the ceremonial office of head of state. Subsequently, he retired from political life in 1988, died the following year in Moscow. Gromyko was born to a poor "semi-peasant, semi-worker" Belarusian family in the Belarusian village of Staryya Gramyki, near Gomel on 18 July 1909. Gromyko's father, Andrei Matveyevich, worked as a seasonal worker in a local factory.
Andrei Matveyevich was not a educated man, having only attended four years of school, but knew how to read and write. He had fought in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. Gromyko's mother, Olga Yevgenyevna, came from a poor peasant family in the neighbouring city of Zhelezniki, she attended school only for a short period of time as, when her father died, she left to help her mother with the harvest. Gromyko grew up near the district town of Vetka where most of the inhabitants were devoted Old Believers in the Russian Orthodox Church. Gromyko's own village was predominantly religious, but Gromyko started doubting the supernatural at a early age, his first dialog on the subject was with his grandmother Marfa, who answered his inquiry about God with "Wait until you get older. You will understand all this much better". According to Gromyko, "Other adults said the same thing" when talking about religion. Gromyko's neighbour at the time, Mikhail Sjeljutov, was a freethinker and introduced Gromyko to new non-religious ideas and told Gromyko that scientists were beginning to doubt the existence of God.
From the age of nine, after the Bolshevik revolution, Gromyko started reading atheist propaganda in flyers and pamphlets. At the age of thirteen Gromyko became a member of the Komsomol and held anti-religious speeches in the village with his friends as well as promoting Communist values; the news that Germany had attacked the Russian Empire in August 1914 came without warning to the local population. This was the first time, as Gromyko notes, that he felt "love for his country", his father, Andrei Matveyevich, was again conscripted into the Imperial Russian Army and would serve for three years on the southwestern front, under the leadership of General Aleksei Brusilov. Andrei Matveyevich returned home on the eve of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. Gromyko was elected First Secretary of the local Komsomol chapter at the beginning of 1923. Following Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924, the villagers asked Gromyko what would happen in the leader's absence. Gromyko remembered a communist slogan from the heyday of the October Revolution: "The revolution was carried through by Lenin and his helpers."
He told the villagers that Lenin was dead but "his aides, the Party, still lived on." When he was young Gromyko's mother Olga told him that he should leave his home town to become an educated man. Gromyko followed his mother's advice and, after finishing seven years of primary school and vocational education in Gomel, he moved to Borisov to attend technical school. Gromyko became a member of the All-Union Communist Party Bolsheviks in 1931, something he had dreamed of since he learned about the "difference between a poor farmer and a landowner, a worker and a capitalist". Gromyko was voted in as secretary of his party cell at his first party conference and would use most of his weekends doing volunteer work. Gromyko received a small stipend to live on, but still had a strong nostalgia for the days when he worked as a volunteer, it was about this time that Gromyko met Lydia Dmitrievna Grinevich. Grinevich was the daughter of a Belarusian peasant family and came from Kamenki, a small village to the west of Minsk.
She and Gromyko would have two children and Emilia. After studying in Borisov for two years Gromyko was appointed principal of a secondary school in Dzerzhinsk, where he taught, supervised the school and continued his studies. One day a representative from the Central Committee of the Communi
Polish People's Republic
The Polish People's Republic was a state in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989, the predecessor of the modern democratic Republic of Poland. With a population of 37.9 million inhabitants near the end of its existence, it was the most populous state of the Eastern Bloc after the Soviet Union. Having a unitary Marxist–Leninist communist government, it was one of the main signatories of the Warsaw Pact; the official capital since 1947 and largest city was Warsaw, followed by industrial Łódź and cultural Kraków. The former country covers the history of contemporary Poland between 1952 and 1989 under the Soviet-backed communist government established after the Red Army's release of its territory from German occupation in World War II; the name People's Republic was introduced and defined by the Constitution of 1952, based on the 1936 Soviet Constitution. The state's name was the Republic of Poland between 1947 and 1952 in accordance with the temporary Constitution of 1947. From 1952, the Sejm exercised no real power, Poland was regarded as a puppet entity set up and controlled by the Soviet Union.
With time, Poland developed into a satellite state in the Soviet sphere of influence. The Polish People's Republic was a one-party state characterized by constant internal struggles for democracy and better living conditions; the Polish United Workers' Party became the dominant political faction making Poland a socialist country, but with more liberal policies than other states of the Eastern Bloc. Throughout its existence, economic hardships and social unrest were common in every decade; the nation was split between those who supported the party, those who were opposed to it and those who refused to engage in political activity. Despite this, some groundbreaking achievements have been established during the People's Republic such as rapid industrialization, urbanization of smaller or larger cities and access to free healthcare and education was made available; the birth rate was high and the population doubled between 1947 and 1989. The party's most successful accomplishment, was the rebuilding of ruined Warsaw after World War II and the complete riddance of illiteracy, which stood at 30% in 1931 and at 2% in 1988.
The Soviet Union, an exemplar state, had some influence over both internal and external affairs, the Red Army was stationed in Poland as in all other Warsaw Pact countries. The Polish People's Army was the main branch of the Armed Forces; the official police organization, responsible for supposed peacekeeping and violent throttling of protests, was renamed Citizens' Militia. Under the command of the Ministry of Public Security of Poland "UB", the Militia committed serious crimes to maintain the Communists in power, including the harsh treatment of protesters, arrest of opposition leaders and in extreme cases murder, with at least 22,000 people killed by the regime during its rule; as a result, Poland had a high-imprisonment rate but one of the lowest crime rates in the world. This was fictitiously glorified by the ruling Polish Worker's Party, which described Poland as a safe and educated near-Utopian society. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin was able to present his western allies, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, with a fait accompli in Poland.
His armed forces were in occupation of the country, his agents, the communists, were in control of its administration. The USSR was in the process of incorporating the lands in eastern Poland which it had invaded and occupied between 1939 and 1941. In compensation, the USSR gave Poland former German populated territories in Pomerania and Brandenburg east of the Oder–Neisse line, plus the southern half of East Prussia; these awards were confirmed at the Tripartite Conference of Berlin, otherwise known as the Potsdam Conference in August 1945 after the end of the war in Europe. Stalin was determined that Poland's new government would become his tool towards making Poland a Soviet puppet state controlled by the communists, he had severed relations with the Polish government-in-exile in London in 1943, but to appease Roosevelt and Churchill he agreed at Yalta that a coalition government would be formed. The communists held a majority of key posts in this new government, with Soviet support they soon gained total control of the country, rigging all elections.
In June 1946 the "Three Times Yes" referendum was held on a number of issues—abolition of the Senate of Poland, land reform, making the Oder–Neisse line Poland's western border. The communist-controlled Interior Ministry issued results showing that all three questions passed overwhelmingly. Years however, evidence was uncovered showing that the referendum had been tainted by massive fraud, only the third question passed. Władysław Gomułka took advantage of a split in the Polish Socialist Party. One faction, which included Prime Minister Edward Osóbka-Morawski, wanted to join forces with the Peasant Party and form a united front against the Communists. Another faction, led by Józef Cyrankiewicz, argued that the Socialists should support the Communists in carrying through a socialist program, while opposing the imposition of one-party rule. Pre-war political hostilities continued to influence events, Stanisław Mikołajczyk would not agree to form a united front with the Socialists; the Communists played on these divisions by dismissing Osóbka-Morawski and making Cyrankiewicz Prime Minister.
Between the referendum and the January 1947 general elections, the opposition was subjected to persecution. Only the candidates of the pro-government "Democratic Bloc" were allowed to campaign completel
The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Through the Bundesrat, a separate institution, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament; the Bundestag was established by article III of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 as one of the legislative bodies of Germany and thus the historical successor to the earlier Reichstag. Since 1999 it has met in the Reichstag Building in Berlin. Wolfgang Schäuble is the current President of the Bundestag. Members of the Bundestag are elected every four years by all adult German citizens in a mixed system of constituency voting and list voting; the constitutional minimum number of seats is 598. The Election Day can be called earlier than four years after the last if the Federal Chancellor loses a vote of confidence and asks the Federal President to dissolve the Bundestag in order to hold new general elections.
In the 19th century, the name Bundestag was the unofficial designation for the assembly of the sovereigns and mayors of the Monarchies and Free Cities which formed the German Confederation. Its seat was in the Free City of Frankfurt on the Main. With the dissolution of the German Confederation in 1866 and the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the Reichstag was established as the German parliament in Berlin, the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia. Two decades the current parliament building was erected; the Reichstag delegates were elected by equal male suffrage. The Reichstag did not participate in the appointment of the Chancellor until the parliamentary reforms of October 1918. After the Revolution of November 1918 and the establishment of the Weimar Constitution, women were given the right to vote for the Reichstag, the parliament could use the no-confidence vote to force the chancellor or any cabinet member to resign. In March 1933, one month after the Reichstag fire, the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, a retired war hero, gave Adolf Hitler ultimate power through the Decree for the Protection of People and State and the Enabling Act of 1933, although Hitler remained at the post of Federal Government Chancellor.
After this, the Reichstag met only usually at the Krolloper to unanimously rubber-stamp the decisions of the government. It last convened on 26 April 1942. With the new Constitution of 1949, the Bundestag was established as the new West German parliament; because West Berlin was not under the jurisdiction of the Constitution, a legacy of the Cold War, the Bundestag met in Bonn in several different buildings, including a former waterworks facility. In addition, owing to the city's legal status, citizens of West Berlin were unable to vote in elections to the Bundestag, were instead represented by 22 non-voting delegates chosen by the House of Representatives, the city's legislature; the Bundeshaus in Bonn is the former parliament building of Germany. The sessions of the German Bundestag were held there from 1949 until its move to Berlin in 1999. Today it houses the International Congress Centre Bundeshaus Bonn and in the northern areas the branch office of the Bundesrat, which represents the Länder – the federated states).
The southern areas became part of German offices for the United Nations in 2008. The former Reichstag building housed a history exhibition and served as a conference center; the Reichstag building was occasionally used as a venue for sittings of the Bundestag and its committees and the Bundesversammlung, the body which elects the German Federal President. However, the Soviets harshly protested against the use of the Reichstag building by institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany and tried to disturb the sittings by flying supersonic jets close to the building. Since April 19, 1999, the German parliament has again assembled in Berlin in its original Reichstag building, built in 1888 based on the plans of German architect Paul Wallot and underwent a significant renovation under the lead of British architect Lord Norman Foster. Parliamentary committees and subcommittees, public hearings and parliamentary group meetings take place in three auxiliary buildings, which surround the Reichstag building: the Jakob-Kaiser-Haus, Paul-Löbe-Haus and Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus.
In 2005, a small aircraft crashed close to the German Parliament. It was decided to ban private air traffic over Central Berlin. Together with the Bundesrat, the Bundestag is the legislative branch of the German political system. Although most legislation is initiated by the executive branch, the Bundestag considers the legislative function its most important responsibility, concentrating much of its energy on assessing and amending the government's legislative program; the committees play a prominent role in this process. Plenary sessions provide a forum for members to engage in public debate on legislative issues before them, but they tend to be well attended only when significant legislation is being considered; the Bundestag members are the only federal officials directly elected by the public.
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl was a German statesman who served as Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 and as the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union from 1973 to 1998. From 1969 to 1976, Kohl was minister president of the state Rhineland-Palatinate. Kohl chaired the Group of Seven in 1985 and 1992. In 1998 he became honorary chairman of the CDU, resigning from the position in 2000. Born in 1930 in Ludwigshafen to a Roman Catholic family, Kohl joined the Christian Democratic Union in 1946 at the age of 16, he earned a PhD in history at Heidelberg University in 1958 and worked as a business executive before becoming a full-time politician. He was elected as the youngest member of the Parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate in 1959 and became Minister-President of his home state in 1969. Viewed during the 1960s and the early 1970s as a progressive within the CDU, he was elected national chairman of the party in 1973. In the 1976 federal election his party performed well, but the social-liberal government of social democrat Helmut Schmidt was able to remain in power, as well as in 1980, when Kohl's rival from the Bavarian sister party CSU, Franz Josef Strauß, candidated.
After Schmidt had lost the support of the liberal FDP in 1982, Kohl was elected Chancellor through a switch of the FDP, forming a christian-liberal government. After he had become party leader, Kohl was seen as a more conservative figure; as Chancellor Kohl was committed to European integration and French–German cooperation in particular. Kohl's 16-year tenure was the longest of any German Chancellor since Otto von Bismarck, he oversaw the end of the Cold War and the German reunification, for which he is known as Chancellor of Unity. Together with French President François Mitterrand, Kohl was the architect of the Maastricht Treaty, which established the European Union and the euro currency. Kohl was a central figure in the eastern enlargement of the European Union, his government led the effort to push for international recognition of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina when the states declared independence, he played an instrumental role in solving the Bosnian War. Domestically, Kohl's policies focused on economic reforms and also on the process of integrating the former East Germany into the reunited Germany, he moved the federal capital from the "provisional capital" Bonn back to Berlin, although he himself never resided there because the government offices were only relocated in 1999.
Kohl greatly increased federal spending on arts and culture. After his chancellorship, Kohl's reputation suffered domestically because of his role in the CDU donations scandal and he had to resign from his honorary chairmanship of the CDU after little more than a year in January 2000, but he was rehabilitated in years; the Chancellor Angela Merkel started her political career as Kohl's protegée. Kohl was described as "the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century" by U. S. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Kohl received the Charlemagne Prize in 1988 with François Mitterrand. Following his death, Kohl was honored with the first European Act of State in Strasbourg. Kohl was married to Hannelore Kohl during his entire political career, they had two sons, Walter Kohl and Peter Kohl. Helmut Kohl was born on 3 April 1930 in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, he was the third child of Hans Kohl, an imperial army veteran and civil servant, his wife, Cäcilie. Kohl's family was conservative and Roman Catholic, remained loyal to the Catholic Centre Party before and after 1933.
His elder brother died in World War II as a teenage soldier. At the age of ten, Kohl was obliged, like most children in Germany at the time, to join the Deutsches Jungvolk, a section of the Hitler Youth. Aged 15, on 20 April 1945, Kohl was sworn into the Hitler Youth by leader Artur Axmann at Berchtesgaden, just days before the end of the war, as membership was mandatory for all boys of his age. Kohl was drafted for military service in 1945. Kohl attended the Ruprecht Elementary School, continued at the Max-Planck-Gymnasium. After graduating in 1950, Kohl began to study law in Frankfurt am Main, spending two semesters commuting between Ludwigshafen and Frankfurt. Here, Kohl heard lectures among others. In 1951, Kohl switched to Heidelberg University, where he studied political science. Kohl was the first in his family to attend university. After graduating in 1956, Kohl became a fellow at the Alfred Weber Institute of Heidelberg University under Dolf Sternberger where he was an active member of the student society AIESEC.
In 1958, Kohl received his doctorate degree in history for his dissertation Die politische Entwicklung in der Pfalz und das Wiedererstehen der Parteien nach 1945, under the supervision of the historian Walther Peter Fuchs. After that, Kohl entered business, first as an assistant to the director of a foundry in Ludwigshafen in April 1960, as a manager for the Industrial Union for Chemistry in Ludwigshafen. In 1946, Kohl joined the rece
The Oder–Neisse line is the basis of the international border between Germany and Poland. It runs along the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers and meets the Baltic Sea in the north, just west of the ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście. All prewar German territories east of the line and within the 1937 German boundaries – comprising nearly one-fourth of the Weimar Republic – were annexed under border changes promulgated at the postwar Potsdam Conference, with most becoming part of Poland; the small remainder, consisting of northern East Prussia with the German city of Königsberg, was allocated to the Soviet Union as the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian SFSR. Nearly all of the German population in these territories – estimated at 12 million as of autumn 1944 – fled or were forced to leave; the Oder–Neisse line marked the border between East Germany and Poland from 1950 to 1990. Communist East Germany agreed to the border with Communist Poland in 1950, while West Germany, after a period of refusal, adhered to the border in 1970.
After the revolutions of 1989, the newly reunified Germany and the newly democratic Republic of Poland definitively accepted the line as their border in the 1990 German–Polish Border Treaty. The lower River Oder in Silesia was Piast Poland's western border from the 10th until the 13th century. From around the time of World War I, some proposed restoring this line, in the belief that it would provide protection against Germany. One of the first proposals was made in the Russian Empire; when the Nazis gained power, the German territory to the east of the line was militarised by Germany with a view to a future war, the Polish population faced Germanisation. The policies of Nazi Germany encouraged nationalism among the German minority in Poland. Before World War II, Poland's western border with Germany had been fixed under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, it followed the historic border between the Holy Roman Empire and Greater Poland, but with certain adjustments that were intended to reasonably reflect the ethnic compositions of small areas near the traditional provincial borders.
However Pomerelia and Upper Silesia had been divided, leaving areas populated by the Polish as well as other Slavic minorities on the German side and a significant German minority on the Polish side. Moreover, the border left Germany divided into two portions by the Polish Corridor and the independent Free City of Danzig, which had an overwhelmingly German population, but was split from Germany to help secure Poland's access to the Baltic Sea. Between the wars, the concept of "Western thought" became popular among some Polish nationalists; the "Polish motherland territories" were defined by scholars like Zygmunt Wojciechowski as the areas included in Piast Poland in the 10th century. Some Polish historians called for the "return" of territories up to the river Elbe; the proponents of these ideas, in prewar Poland described as a "group of fantasists", were organized in the National Party, opposed to the government of Poland, the Sanacja. The proposal to establish the border along the Oder and Neisse was not considered for a long time.
After World War II the Polish Communists, lacking their own expertise regarding the Western border, adopted the National Democratic concept of western thought. After Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland, some Polish politicians started to see a need to alter the border with Germany. A secure border was seen as essential in the light of Nazi atrocities. During the war, Nazi Germany committed genocide against Poland's population Jews, whom they classified as Untermenschen. Alteration to the western border was seen as a punishment for the Germans for their atrocities and a compensation for Poland; the participation in the genocide by German minorities and their paramilitary organizations, such as the Selbstschutz, support for Nazism among German society connected the issue of border changes with the idea of population transfers intended to avoid such events in the future. The Polish government in exile envisioned territorial changes after the war which would incorporate East Prussia and the Oppeln Silesian region into post-war Poland, along with a straightening of the Pomeranian border and minor acquisition in the Lauenburg area.
The border changes were to provide Poland with a safe border and to prevent the Germans from using Eastern Pomerania and East Prussia as strategic assets against Poland. Only with the changing situation during the war were these territorial proposals modified. In October 1941 the exile newspaper Dziennik Polski postulated a postwar Polish western border that would include East Prussia, Silesia up to the Lausitzer Neisse and at least both banks of the Oder's mouth. While these territorial claims were regarded as "megalomaniac" by the Soviet ambassador in London, in October 1941 Stalin announced the "return of East Prussia to Slavdom" after the war. On 16 December 1941 Stalin remarked in a meeting with the British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, though inconsistent in detail, that Poland should receive all German territory up to the river Oder. In May 1942 General Władysław Sikorski, Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile, sent two memoranda to the US government, sketching a postwar Polish western border along the Oder and Neisse.
However, the proposal was dropped by the government-in-exile in late 1942. In post-war Poland the governmen
East Germany the German Democratic Republic, was a country that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the eastern portion of Germany was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. It described itself as a socialist "workers' and peasants' state", the territory was administered and occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II — the Soviet Occupation Zone of the Potsdam Agreement, bounded on the east by the Oder–Neisse line; the Soviet zone did not include it. The German Democratic Republic was established in the Soviet zone, while the Federal Republic was established in the three western zones. East Germany was a satellite state of the Soviet Union. Soviet occupation authorities began transferring administrative responsibility to German communist leaders in 1948, the GDR began to function as a state on 7 October 1949. However, Soviet forces remained in the country throughout the Cold War; until 1989, the GDR was governed by the Socialist Unity Party, though other parties nominally participated in its alliance organisation, the National Front of Democratic Germany.
The SED made the teaching of Marxism -- the Russian language compulsory in schools. The economy was centrally planned and state-owned. Prices of housing, basic goods and services were set by central government planners rather than rising and falling through supply and demand. Although the GDR had to pay substantial war reparations to the USSR, it became the most successful economy in the Eastern Bloc. Emigration to the West was a significant problem – as many of the emigrants were well-educated young people, it further weakened the state economically; the government fortified its western borders and, in 1961, built the Berlin Wall. Many people attempting to flee were killed by border guards or booby traps, such as landmines. Several others were imprisoned for many years. In 1989, numerous social and political forces in the GDR and abroad led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the establishment of a government committed to liberalisation; the following year, open elections were held, international negotiations led to the signing of the Final Settlement treaty on the status and borders of Germany.
The GDR dissolved itself, Germany was reunified on 3 October 1990, becoming a sovereign state again. Several of the GDR's leaders, notably its last communist leader Egon Krenz, were prosecuted in reunified Germany for crimes committed during the Cold War. Geographically, the German Democratic Republic bordered the Baltic Sea to the north. Internally, the GDR bordered the Soviet sector of Allied-occupied Berlin, known as East Berlin, administered as the state's de facto capital, it bordered the three sectors occupied by the United States, United Kingdom and France known collectively as West Berlin. The three sectors occupied by the Western nations were sealed off from the rest of the GDR by the Berlin Wall from its construction in 1961 until it was brought down in 1989; the official name was Deutsche Demokratische Republik abbreviated to DDR. Both terms were used in East Germany, with increasing usage of the abbreviated form since East Germany considered West Germans and West Berliners to be foreigners following the promulgation of its second constitution in 1968.
West Germans, the western media and statesmen avoided the official name and its abbreviation, instead using terms like Ostzone, Sowjetische Besatzungszone, sogenannte DDR. The centre of political power in East Berlin was referred to as Pankow. Over time, the abbreviation DDR was increasingly used colloquially by West Germans and West German media; the term Westdeutschland, when used by West Germans, was always a reference to the geographic region of Western Germany and not to the area within the boundaries of the Federal Republic of Germany. However, this use was not always consistent. Before World War II, Ostdeutschland was used to describe all the territories east of the Elbe, as reflected in the works of sociologist Max Weber and political theorist Carl Schmitt. Explaining the internal impact of the DDR regime from the perspective of German history in the long term, historian Gerhard A. Ritter has argued that the East German state was defined by two dominant forces – Soviet Communism on the one hand, German traditions filtered through the interwar experiences of German Communists on the other.
It always was constrained by the powerful example of the prosperous West, to which East Germans compared their nation. The changes wrought by the Communists were most apparent in ending capitalism and transforming industry and agriculture, in the militarization of society, in the political thrust of the educational system and the media. On the other hand, there was little change made in the independent domains of the sciences, the engineering professions, the Protestant churches, in many bourgeois lifestyles. Social policy, says Ritter, became a critical legitimization tool in the last decades and mixed socialist and traditional elements about equally. At the Yalta Conference during World War II, the Allies (the U. S. the UK and