The German Democratic Republic (GDR; German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR; more commonly known in English as East Germany) was a self-declared socialist state (but often incorrectly referred to in the West as a "communist state") in the Eastern Bloc created in the Soviet Zone of occupied Germany and the Soviet sector of occupied Berlin. The German Democratic Republic existed from 7 October 1949 until 3 October 1990, when its re-established states acceded to the adjacent Federal Republic of Germany, thus producing the current form of the state of Germany.
In 1955, the Soviet Union declared that the Republic was fully sovereign. However, Soviet occupation troops remained in East German territory, based on the four-power Potsdam Agreement, while British, Canadian, French and American forces remained in the Federal Republic of Germany in the West. Berlin, completely surrounded by East German territory, was similarly divided with British, French and U.S. garrisons in West Berlin and Soviet forces in East Berlin. Berlin in particular became the focal point of Cold War tensions. East Germany was a member of the Warsaw Pact and a close ally of the Soviet Union.
Following the initial opening of sections of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, new elections were held on 18 March 1990, and the governing party, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, lost its majority in the Volkskammer (the East German parliament) soon after. On 23 August, the Volkskammer decided that the Republic would recreate the five pre-war states (which had been dissolved in 1952), which would join the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990. As a result of the reunification on that date, the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist.
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