Decision on the Capital of Germany

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The capital decision (German: Hauptstadtbeschluss) refers to the decision made by the German Bundestag on June 20, 1991, as a result of German reunification, to move its headquarters from Bonn to Berlin. The term is misleading, since Berlin had already become the federal capital of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 as one of the stipulations of the Unification Treaty.[1]

Decision and implementation[edit]

After more than ten hours of discussion, the Bundestag voted 338 to 320 to pass the bill "Vollendung der Einheit Deutschlands" (English: completion of the unification of Germany). Due to an initial error, the initial count stood at 337 to 320, however the number of yes votes was later determined to be 338.

As a result of this decision, many subsequent motions were passed at different levels within government to facilitate the transition of the German capital to Berlin. To guarantee "fair division of labour" between Berlin and Bonn, it was decided to move the following government offices to Berlin, whilst retaining a secondary, smaller office in Bonn:

The following Federal Ministries were to remain in Bonn, each with a second office in Berlin:

The Berlin-Bonn Act was passed in 1994. Originally, the Federal Ministries' move to Berlin was planned for 1995, however this deadline was not adhered to. Instead a Cabinet decision was made that the move should be completed by 2000, on a budget of no more than 20 billion DM (10.2 billion EUR).

During this period other fundamental decisions were made, including:

  • the Reichstag building is the permanent seat of the Bundestag
  • the majority of the Federal Ministries moves to Berlin
  • the majority of ministerial jobs will remain in Bonn
  • the Federal Minister in Bonn and Berlin have a second seat
  • the Federal President has his office in Berlin

Berlin officially adopted its full role as the home of the parliament and government of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1999.

See also[edit]



  • Andreas Salz: Bonn-Berlin. Die Debatte um Parlaments- und Regierungssitz im Deutschen Bundestag und die Folgen. Monsenstein und Vannerdat, Münster 2006, ISBN 3-86582-342-4 (zugleich: Bonn, Univ., Magisterarbeit).