Being East German in the Berlin Republic

Authored by: Laurence McFalls , Alexandra Hausstein

The Routledge Handbook of German Politics & Culture

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415686860
eBook ISBN: 9781315747040
Adobe ISBN: 9781317600152


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‘Artikel 23 – Kein Anschluss unter dieser Nummer’ (Article 23 – no connection/annexation at this number). Back in 1990, with this telephonic play on words, left-leaning Germans, mostly from the East but also from the West, criticised the use of Article 23 of the Federal Republic’s Basic Law to expedite the incorporation of the newly formed Federal states or Länder on the territory of the defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR) into the Federal Republic. After all, Article 146, they rightly pointed out, foresaw reunification along with Germany’s return to fully sovereign status and prescribed the replacement of the provisional Basic Law with a permanent constitution to be adopted freely by the entire German people. Mainstream politicians, pundits, and professors in the West, aside from invoking the need for a quick unification process in light of the international context of instability (in the Soviet Union in particular), generally opined that the Basic Law had proven historically and uniquely successful in guaranteeing the Federal Republic a stable liberal democratic constitutional order and therefore did not require replacing. They assumed that the failure of the GDR due to its apparently obvious lack of popular legitimacy meant that the eastern German minority would not be bringing in any new or alternative expectations or ideas for an all-German constitutional order.

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