Die Wende
marks the complete process of the change from socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and planned economy
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

 to market economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

 and capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 in East Germany around the years 1989 and 1990. It encompasses several processes and events which later have become synonymous with the overall process. These processes and events are:
  • the Peaceful Revolution, a time of massive protest and demonstrations (Montagsdemonstrationen
    Monday demonstrations in East Germany
    The Monday demonstrations in East Germany in 1989 and 1990 were a series of peaceful political protests against the authoritarian communist government of the German Democratic Republic that took place every Monday evening.- Overview :...

     - "Monday demonstrations" and Alexanderplatz demonstration
    Alexanderplatz demonstration
    The Alexanderplatz demonstration was a demonstration for political reforms and against the government of the German Democratic Republic on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin on 4 November 1989...

    ) against the political system of the GDR and for civil
    Civil rights
    Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

     and human rights
    Human rights
    Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

     in the Fall of 1989.
  • the Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 following a press conference held by the Politbüro
    Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

     during which Günter Schabowski
    Günter Schabowski
    Günter Schabowski is a former official of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany , the ruling party during most of the existence of the German Democratic Republic...

     announced the opening of the border checkpoints.
  • the transition to democracy in East Germany following the Peaceful Revolution, leading to the only democratic elections
    East German general election, 1990
    Legislative elections were held in the German Democratic Republic on 18 March 1990. It was the first—and as it turned out, only—free parliamentary election in East Germany, and the first truly free election held in that part of Germany since 1933...

     to the Volkskammer
    The People's Chamber was the unicameral legislature of the German Democratic Republic . From its founding in 1949 until the first free elections on 18 March 1990, all members of the Volkskammer were elected on a slate controlled by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany , called the National Front...

    in the GDR on 18 March 1990.
  • the process of German Reunification
    German reunification
    German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

     leading to the Einigungsvertrag (Treaty of Unification) on 31 August 1990, the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
    Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
    The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic , and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the...

     on 12 September 1990 and finally the joining of the five re-established East German Länder
    States of Germany
    Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

     to the Federal Republic of Germany
    West Germany
    West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....


In hindsight, the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 word (meaning "change", "turning point") then took on a new meaning; the phrase , literally "since the change", means "since reunification" or "since the Wall fell". This period is marked by West German aid to East Germany, a total reaching an estimated $775 billion over 10 years. To some extent, Germany is still in the midst of the "Nachwendezeit" (post-Wende period): differences between East and West still exist, and a process of "inner reunification" is not yet finished.

This "turning point" has marked the reunification of Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. The term was first used publicly in East Germany on 18 October 1989 in a speech by interim GDR leader Egon Krenz
Egon Krenz
Egon Krenz is a former politician from East Germany , and that country's last Communist leader...

 (the term having been used on the cover of influential West German news magazine Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

two days previously). Whilst it initially referred to the end of the old East German government, has become synonymous with the fall of the Wall and of the East German state, and indeed of the entire Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

 and Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 state socialism
State socialism
State socialism is an economic system with limited socialist characteristics, such as public ownership of major industries, remedial measures to benefit the working class, and a gradual process of developing socialism through government policy...


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