West Germany

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West Germany (German: Westdeutschland) is the common English name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland) in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990. This period, during which Germany and Berlin were divided, ended when communist East Germany was dissolved and its five states joined the eleven states of the Federal Republic of Germany. The enlarged Federal Republic of Germany with sixteen states (known simply as "Germany") is thus the continuation of the pre-1990 Federal Republic of Germany, and not its successor.

The Federal Republic of Germany was established from eleven states formed in the three Allied Zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France (the "Western Zones"). The city of Bonn was its provisional capital city. The fourth Allied occupation zone (the East Zone, or Ostzone) was held by the Soviet Union. The parts of this zone lying east of the Oder-Neisse were de facto annexed by the Soviet Union and communist Poland; the remaining central part around Berlin became the communist German Democratic Republic (abbreviated GDR; in German Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) with its de facto capital in East Berlin. As a result, West Germany had a territory about half the size of the interwar Weimar Republic, its democratic-capitalist predecessor.

At the onset of the Cold War, Germany (and, indeed, Europe) was divided among the Western and Eastern blocs. Germany was de facto divided into two countries and two special territories, the Saarland and divided Berlin. The Federal Republic of Germany claimed an exclusive mandate for all of Germany, considering itself to be the democratically reorganised successor of the German Reich. It took the line that the GDR was an illegally constituted state. The GDR did hold regular elections, but these were not recognised as free and fair by the West; from the West German perspective the GDR was thus a puppet state of the Soviets and therefore illegitimate.

Three southwestern states of West Germany merged to form Baden-W├╝rttemberg in 1952, and the Saarland joined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1957. In addition to the resulting ten states, West Berlin was considered an unofficial de facto 11th state. While legally not part of the Federal Republic of Germany, as Berlin was under the control of the Allied Control Council, West Berlin aligned itself politically with West Germany and was directly or indirectly represented in its federal institutions.

Relations with the Soviet bloc improved during the era of Ostpolitik in the 1970s, and West Germany began taking the line of "two German states within one German nation", but formally maintained the exclusive mandate. It recognised the GDR as a de facto government within a single German nation that in turn was represented de jure by the West German state alone. East Germany, as before, recognised the existence of two German countries de jure, and the West as both de facto and de jure foreign country.

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