The text in Chapter 1 gave a little of the historical background to the beginning of the process which has resulted today in two German states, the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic. For many years after the end of the war, the GDR was not recognised by the Federal Republic or by other states. It was often referred to just as die Zone, because it had begun life as the Soviet zone of occupation in 1945. Then there was a period during which the name of the state was used, but always prefixed by the words ‘so-called’, die sogenannte DDR. The year 1961 marked a significant development in the post-war history of the two states, when the Berlin Wall was constructed, offering a constant, physical reminder of the two separate cultures and world views on each side of the wall, and a reminder too of the problems for GDR citizens who wished to travel outside the confines of their state. Because the wall closed off one of the main points of exit for refugees from the east, it had the advantage for the GDR of staunching the flow of skilled and educated labour to the West, and marked the start of the economic progress of the Marxist part of Germany. Now, the wall remains as a terrible reminder of the divisions of Germany and of the world. (An aerial view of the divided city is given in a text in Chapter 4.)
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