Capital of Germany
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The Capital of Germany is the city state of Berlin. It is the seat of the President of Germany, whose official residence is Schloss Bellevue. The Bundesrat ("federal council") is the representation of the Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and has its seat at the former Prussian Herrenhaus (House of Lords). Though most of the ministries are seated in Berlin, some of them, as well as some minor departments, are seated in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany.
Prior to 1871, Germany was not a unified nation state, and had no capital city. The medieval Holy Roman Empire, of which parts evolved into modern Germany, had no capital, considering itself rather as a confederation of varied territories of which some were German while others were not. The capital of the imperial ruling house (the Habsburgs) was Vienna.
After the Congress of Vienna created the formal German Confederation in 1815, a Federal Assembly convened at the Free City of Frankfurt, representing not the people of the individual German Lands but their sovereigns. Subsequently, Frankfurt briefly became the official German capital during the short-lived Revolutions of 1848 in the German states.
It was only during the 1871 Unification of Germany that the newly unified German Empire was first assigned an official capital. Since Berlin was the capital of Prussia, the leading state of the new Reich, it became the capital of Germany as well and remained so until World War II. However, for a period of a few months following the First World War, the national assembly met in Weimar because civil war was ravaging Berlin. In 1945, Germany was occupied by the Allies as the outcome of WWII, and Berlin ceased to be the capital of a sovereign German state.
In 1949, with sovereignty regained the country split up into West Germany and East Germany. Berlin was also divided, into West Berlin and East Berlin. Originally, Frankfurt was to be the provisional capital of West Germany. However, West German authorities had every intention of making Berlin the capital if Germany were ever reunified, and feared that Frankfurt would ultimately be accepted as a permanent capital and weaken West German support for reunification. For this reason, the capital was ultimately located in the small university town of Bonn. Another factor was that Bonn is a suburb of Cologne, the hometown of West Germany's first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. East Germany claimed East Berlin as its capital, even though Berlin as a whole was still legally occupied territory, and would remain so for 45 years.
Although Berlin is officially the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, 8,000 out of the 18,000 total officials employed at the federal bureaucracy still work in Bonn, 375 miles away from Berlin.
- NYT article about Bonn/Berlin federal administration
- Berlin: Capital Of Germany (Tourism page)
- Official page of Bundestag (German parliament)
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