"Wall peckers" in Berlin, 10 November 1989. People started tearing down the Berlin Wall on their own. Official demolition began at Potsdamer Platz in November 1989, and continued from 20 February 1990 between the Brandenburg Gate and the border post at Checkpoint Charlie.
Source: Bundesregierung/Uwe Rau

Monetary, Economic and Social Union

Faced with a political, social and economic crisis in the GDR, around a quarter of a million East Germans left the country for West Germany in the first six months of 1990. The great majority were young and well educated.

After the Federal government refused to inject the necessary funds to stabilise the GDR economy, in February 1990 it proposed that the GDR be integrated into the West German monetary and economic system as quickly as possible. On 18 May, East and West Germany signed a treaty on monetary, economic and social union including important provisions on labour and social law.

From 1 July 1990 the Deutschmark was the sole currency in the GDR. To avoid economic and social discrimination, the currency was converted from East German marks to Deutschmarks at a rate of 1:1 for wages, rents and pensions. Free competition, free price formation and the right to own private property were introduced as key elements of a market economy.

The SED leaders tried to hush up the impending national bankruptcy as long as possible; but ailing industry, urban decay, environmental damage and shortages spoke for themselves. This photo from 1990 shows: defective dust extractors at a coal briquette factory in Lauchhammer.
Source: Bundesarchiv/183-1990-0509-018/Rainer Weisflog
The SED leaders tried to hush up the impending national bankruptcy as long as possible; but ailing industry, urban decay, environmental damage and shortages spoke for themselves. This photo from 1990 shows: a house front in Mitte, Berlin.
The SED leaders tried to hush up the impending national bankruptcy as long as possible; but ailing industry, urban decay, environmental damage and shortages spoke for themselves. This photo from 1990 shows: Andreasviertel in Erfurt.
Source: Bundesregierung/Lehnartz
GDR prime minister Hans Modrow (l., in front of the pillar) and West German finance minister Theodor Waigel (2nd from r.) in Bonn, 13 February 1990. Public pressure and West Germany's refusal to grant billions in aid forced the GDR government to enter talks on economic and monetary union.
Source: picture-alliance/ZB/Peter Zimmermann
The GDR population and government demanded the East and West German currencies be merged at a 1:1 exchange rate, as shown at this demonstration in East Berlin on 5 April 1990. Many West German economic experts publicly opposed this rate, due to the much lower productivity level in East Germany.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Gerald Zörner
On 18 May 1990 the finance ministers of the two German states, Theodor Waigel of West Germany (seated, r.) and Walter Romberg of the GDR (seated, l.), signed the interstate treaty on monetary, economic and social union. The treaty came into force on 1 July 1990.
Source: Bundesarchiv/1990-0518-025/Bernd Settnick
Prices slashed in an Erfurt shop in May 1990. Shortly before monetary union the shops in the GDR were cleared out. Traders stopped buying in goods because they were waiting for the deutschmark to order new products.
Source: Schicker Fotodesign
On the eve of 1 July 1990, the day of monetary union, there was a run on the banks. Just after midnight the first customer to change his money at the Deutsche Bank branch at Alexanderplatz in East Berlin received the gift of a savings book worth 100 DM.
Source: Schicker Fotodesign
Curiosity at the Centrum department store in East Berlin. Right on time for monetary union, the windows of shops and big stores were filled with new products. As the change of currency happened on a Sunday, GDR citizens could not spend their new money until the day after.
Source: Bundesregierung/Lehnartz
Queueing outside a bank in Leipzig. In May and June 1990, GDR citizens applied to convert their savings into deutschmarks ready for the German currency union.
Source: Gerhard Gäbler/Leipzig
An Erfurt grocer, Peter Voigt, championed his right to free trade by conducting his own monetary union in January 1990. He found a supplier in West Germany, obtained an official licence to receive West German currency, and charged his customers deutschmarks for the fruit they had long had to go without.
Source: Frankfurter Neue Presse/Frank Horlbeck
Letter to Wolfgang Ullmann from Democracy Now, 25 February 1990. People in the GDR were worried about their social rights, medical care, pensions, etc. The social union was designed to allay their fears; it included start-up financing from West Germany for pension and unemployment schemes.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
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