Invaded by the Allied armies at the end of World War II, Germany began the postwar period divided into four occupation zones: American, British, French, and Soviet. The sector occupied by the three western Allied countries would become the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), a democratic country with a free market society; while the portion occupied by the Red Army would become the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), a non-democratic country whose economy was run by the State, which did not allow private property and free individual enterprise.

Four years after World War II, right after the Berlin Airlift and the approval of its new Constitution (the Basic Law) in May 1949, West Germany held its first democratic elections, in which Konrad Adenauer, from the Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU), was elected chancellor. During his government (1949-1963), and boosted by an American, financial aid package, called the Marshall Plan, Germany would undergo a period of great economic growth and technological development, despite the fact of having been literally razed by Allied carpet bombing during World War II. In 1955, as the Cold War Iron Curtain had been dropped by the Soviet Union across Europe from north to south, West Germany became a NATO member, the military organization of western free democratic countries.

In December 1989, the Berlin Wall, which divided the former capital of Germany, was partially torn down as the Berliners from East Germany were allowed for the first time to freely travel in and out of West Germany. In August 1990, with the collapse of Communism and the former Soviet Union, East Germany joined West Germany to become one nation again.

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