People celebrate atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 1989. Thousands of people gathered to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall, which separated the Soviet-aligned East Berlin from capitalist West Berlin. 

Photography by Sue Ream, courtesy Wikimedia.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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  • On October 3, 1990, East Germany and West Germany united as a single nation. In 1945, after the defeat of Germany in World War II, the country was split into two nations: the German Democratic Republic in the East (a communist state dominated by the Soviet Union) and the Federal Republic of Germany in the West (a capitalist state aligned with the United States, Britain, and France). The reunification of Germany was one of the major events in the decline of Soviet-style communism at the end of the 20th century.

    Today, Germany is a member of the European Community and the military alliance known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is the most populous and economically productive country in Europe.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    align Verb

    to put in a straight line.

    alliance Noun

    people or groups united for a specific purpose.

    decline Verb

    to reduce or go down in number.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    nation Noun

    political unit made of people who share a common territory.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nation
    NATO Noun

    North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Military alliance of 28 North American and European countries.

    Soviet Union Noun

    (1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

    World War II Noun

    (1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)