The German Democratic Republic (GDR, also known as East Germany) was established on 7 October 1949 as part of the Communist bloc. The socialist regime remained in power  for 40 years, during which more than 100.000 people were detained as political prisoners, and severe cases of torture and major violations of international human rights were documented.

The first free and fair elections took place in March 1990, and by 3 October 1990 East Germany was reunified with West Germany, merging to what today is the Federal Republic of Germany.

Under the German Unification Treaty, former civil servants were vetted for having collaborated with the Communist regime or the political police, the Stasi. Several government officials, Stasi agents and informants, as well as low-level workers in public employment were disqualified from public office for a period of fifteen years. Lustration checks have become routine in Germany since 1990. A number of former members of the Stasi have been condemned and imprisoned for their collaboration that led to violations of international human rights law.

The Federal Republic of Germany is presently a stable parliamentary democracy.