On this day 66 years ago…

the German Bundestag met for the first time in West Berlin. The session was held for the first time on October 19th in 1955 as a sign of solidarity with West Berlin and its citizens in a temporary meeting room at the TU Berlin. The MPs also wanted to display that they would not accept the two-state solution and would work towards an early reunification. In his opening speech, the President of the Bundestag, Eugen Gerstenmaier, therefore announced: “The Bundestag wants to announce that it feels responsible for the fate of this city. The freedom of Berlin and the reunification of our fatherland are a vital content and goal of German politics.”

At that time, Berlin continued to be under the occupation of the four powers: the USA, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain, which divided Germany into 4 zones of occupation after World War II in 1945. In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was founded from the American, French, and British zones, and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from the Soviet one in 1950. This division remained until the fall of the GDR and reunification in 1990. The parliamentarians continued to hold regular sessions in Berlin, later also in the restored Reichstag. After massive protests by the GDR and Soviet leadership, however, these were discontinued in 1965. The Bundestag did not reconvene in Berlin until October 4, 1999, after the Bundestag voted, albeit by a narrow majority, to move the seat of the federal government to Berlin.