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1970: Willi and Willy meet in East Germany

VIDEO : Journalists face a tough time entering East Germany

The leaders of East and West Germany have met for the first time since the country was divided in 1949.

About 2,000 young East Germans greeted West Germany's Chancellor Willy Brandt when he arrived at 0930 at the East German town of Erfurt to meet Prime Minister Willi Stoph for talks on improving East-West relations.

As the two men crossed the square between the railway station and the Erfurt Hof Hotel, demonstrators shouted "Willy! Willy!".

Then they changed their chant to "Willy Brandt!" to make clear which leader they supported.

The large crowds surprised both Western journalists and the East German authorities who had made every effort to keep the area clear of spectators. They even kept children at school who would normally have had the afternoon off.

Demonstrators called for Mr Brandt to come to the hotel window. He did so for a brief moment before getting down to the serious business of talks with his East German counterpart.

Honour to holocaust victims

This afternoon, Mr Brandt visited the Buchenwald concentration camp to lay a wreath in honour of the victims of the Nazi holocaust.

On his return to Erfurt he was met with a small counter-demonstration of people demanding international recognition of East Germany, echoing a demand made by East German officials.

During the talks, Mr Brandt suggested recognition of East Germany would come after a long process of negotiation.

He proposed a treaty to confirm the inviolability of East Germany's border and suggested the two countries join the United Nations.

But there was little hope the talks would lead to an easing of travel restrictions for East Germans, made worse by the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

By the end of the day the two men agreed to meet again in the West German town of Kessel on 21 May.

In Context
Willy Brandt was the architect of "Ostpolitik", the policy of rapprochement with the Eastern Bloc.

By 1971 he had negotiated treaties with Russia, Poland, and East Germany and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Two years later the Federal Republic of Germany (West) and the German Democratic Republic (East) were allowed to join the United Nations.

But in 1974 Mr Brandt was forced to resign after one of his leading aides, Gunter Guillaume, was exposed as an East German spy.

Prime Minister Willi Stoph, along with his cabinet, was forced to resign on 7 November 1989 after huge anti-government protests.

Two days later travel restrictions were eased and millions left the country as the Berlin Wall was knocked down. The two Germanys were finally reunited on 3 October 1990.


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