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East Berlin existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the eastern regions of Berlin and consisted of the Sovietsector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British, and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany. East Berlin was the de factocapital of East Germany. From 13 August 1961 until 9 November 1989, East Berlin was separated from West Berlin by the Berlin Wall. The official name that was used by the East German government changed over the course of years from "Greater Berlin" to "Democratic Berlin" to "Berlin, Capital of the GDR" or simply "Berlin" respectively. Within official usage, it had become more widespread since the 1970s to refer only to the Western part of the city with a different name ("Westberlin"), whilst calling the Eastern part simply "Berlin". (See also Naming conventions). According to international law, the Soviet Sector of the city merely constituted a part of the four sectors under the authority of the Allied Forces (the U.S., the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and France). Therefore, the Soviet Sector was never officially recognized as part of of the GDR by the Western Allies.
With the London Protocol from 1944, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union decided to divide Germany into three occupation zones and to establish a special area of Berlin, which was occupied by the three Allied Forces together. In May 1944, the Soviet Union installed a city government for the whole city that was called "Magistrate of Greater Berlin", which existed until 1947. After the war, the Allied Forces initially administrated the city together within the Allied Kommandatura, which served as the governing body of the city. However, in 1948 the Soviet representative left the Kommandatura and the common administration broke apart during the following months. In the Soviet sector, a separate city government was established, which continued to call itself "Magistrate of Greater Berlin".
When the German Democratic Republic was formed in 1949, it immediately claimed East Berlin as its capital - a claim that was recognized by all Communist countries. However, due to the legal fiction that East Berlin was still occupied territory, its representatives to the People's Chamber did not have full voting rights until 1968.
The Western Allies (the US, Britain, and France) never formally acknowledged the authority of the East German government to govern East Berlin; the official Allied protocol recognized only the authority of the Soviet Union in East Berlin in accordance with the occupation status of Berlin as a whole. The United States Command Berlin, for example, published detailed instructions for U.S. military and civilian personnel wishing to visit East Berlin. In fact, the three Western commandants regularly protested the presence of the East German National People's Army (NVA) in East Berlin, particularly on the occasion of military parades. Nevertheless, the three Western Allies eventually established embassies in East Berlin in the 1970s, although they never recognized it as the capital of East Germany. Treaties instead used terms such as "seat of government."
On 3 October 1990, West and East Germany and West and East Berlin were reunited, thus formally ending the existence of East Berlin.
Since reunification, the German government has spent vast amounts of money on reintegrating the two halves of the city and bringing services and infrastructure in the former East Berlin up to the standard established in West Berlin. Despite this, there are still obvious differences between eastern and western Berlin. Eastern Berlin has a distinctly different visual aspect, partly because of the greater survival of prewar façades and streetscapes, some still showing signs of wartime damage, and partly because of the distinctive style of urban Stalinist architecture used in the GDR. As in other former East German cities, a small number of GDR-era names commemorating socialist heroes have been preserved, such as Karl-Marx-Allee, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, and Karl-Liebknecht-Straße; this followed a long process of review in which many such street names were deemed inappropriate and were changed. Still visible throughout former East Berlin are the characteristic "Ampelmännchen" on some pedestrian traffic lights. These days they are also visible in parts of the former West Berlin following a civic debate about whether the "Ampelmännchen" should be abolished or disseminated more widely. While both sides have now unified as Berlin, there is still a noticeable difference between East and West Berliners.
Soviet and East German Commandants of East Berlin