Answer:   West Germany prospered economically, while East Germany’s growth was stunted.


Historical context:

The Allies of World War II were allied in defeating Germany and Japan, but they were not united in their political ideology. Britain, France and the United States promoted capitalism and democracy. The Soviet Union stood for communism and authoritarian government.

In the postwar settlement, the Allied divided Germany into four zones of control after the war — each zone occupied by one of the Allied nations — Britain, France, the USA, and the USSR.  The same thing was done for the city of Berlin, which was in the Soviet-controlled zone (East Germany).  East Berlin was governed under Soviet control, and West Berlin was governed by the western Allies — Britain, France and the USA.  The communist USSR was at odds with their former World War II allies (which were democratic and capitalist).  In June, 1948, the Soviets sought to drive the other powers out of West Berlin by blockading all land and waterway routes to the city.  But the USA and its partners (Britain and France) would not desert the people of West Berlin, and for over a year they used airplanes to drop supplies into the non-Soviet part of the city.  This “Berlin Airlift” effort eventually accounted for over 2 million tons of cargo being delivered to West Berlin by air, and the Soviets eventually gave up the blockade.  West Berlin remained independent of Soviet control. East Berlin and East Germany, however, remained under Soviet domination.

In 1961, with Soviet support, the Berlin Wall was built to separate East Berlin from West Berlin. The communist government of East Germany claimed it was an “antifascist bulwark” to keep people from the West from infiltrating East Berlin and seeking to undermine the socialist state. Really, though, it was built to keep people from East Germany from fleeing to the West by way of West Berlin, because life and economic conditions in West Germany were so much better than in East Germany.

The problems of East Germany persisted until major uprisings took place in 1989, and the East German state dissolved in 1990. Germany was reunified at that time.