[This is from the same timeline as the People's Republic of Korea timeline.](https://lemmygrad.ml/post/433473) After a period of negotiations between the CPSU and the Socialist Unity Party from 1949-51, war reparations – which in our timeline amounted to approximately USD$100b – to be paid by the GDR to the USSR, were cancelled – accompanied by the return of industry (which had been carted away during the immediate post-War era). The effect of this was a smaller portion of the GDR's national income going towards Soviet coffers, and more reinvestment – producing exponential returns. Observing the negative effects of the brain drain of skilled technicians and scientists across the border, the GDR constructed the border wall in 1954, seven years earlier than in our timeline, and in doing so headed off its brain drain.
But not the concrete division was not intended to last – the 1971 market crash signalled the beginning of a long period of recession and stagnation in the GDR's neighbour – officially known as the Federal Republic of Germany, and colloquially known as West Germany. While the United States was embroiled in the Vietnam War, subsidies to the FRG's economy trickled to a halt – the US government had more important things to worry about than the performance of the West German industrial sector. In the same period, the socialist planned economy of East Germany consistently expanded year after year – the anarchy of market capitalism having been superseded by scientific socialist relations of production. Originally almost deindustrialized, with an economy historically poorer than the western regions, the GDR advanced forward in leaps and bounds – expanding by a consistent 7-9% each year. By 1973, GDP per capita had equalized with West Germany, and by 1980, the GDR's GDP per capita stood at €15,000 while the FRG stood at €13,800.
With Khrushchev's faction losing the power struggle within the CPSU to Molotov's faction in the 1950s, the economic reforms establishing profit as the main criterion for evaluating the success of a firm never became prominent. In our timeline, these reforms lead to stagnation, corruption, and inefficiency – firms were neither effectively planned from the centre, nor were they disciplined by market forces – in this timeline, subsidies for innovative products were retained (as opposed to being abolished in the mid-1950s) and the CPSU embarked upon a course of continually perfecting production techniques and reducing labour hours. The indirect effect of reducing labour hours was forcing firms to effectively utilise all reserve labour, to allow more women and young people (otherwise discouraged by the longer hours) to enter into the workforce, to increase the intensity of production (increasing labour efficiency), and to oblige these firms to think about using labour in a more conservative way – increasing mechanisation and automation, and cutting down on unnecessary "boilerplate" work.
The CPSU being the vanguard of vanguards, the Socialist Unity Party of the GDR soon followed in its wake, introducing very similar programmes. After furious debate within the Central Committee of the SUP(GDR), it was decided that the border wall would be reopened in 1981, reuniting families and making for spectacular photo opportunities. But the fall of the Berlin Wall signified the strengthening of socialism rather than its fall – disenchanted with an inert economy, lower incomes and scarce employment opportunities, West German professionals soon found themselves visiting the GDR, although in 1981, still only a few hundred had decided to permanently relocate. The tables had turned – before the construction of the Wall, the GDR had lost 55,000 skilled workers to the more prosperous West – but the West soon found itself in a very difficult position, with 88,200 declaring their allegiance to socialism in East Germany from 1981-89. By 1987, West Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) was seriously discussing constructing another wall, or at least heavily limiting immigration – but soon every political party that openly discussed the problem found itself the target of jeers and rebukes.
Pre-empting the West German decision to massively restrict emigration, popular support or not, in order to head off the skilled-labour crisis that was rapidly unfolding, the GDR unexpectedly offered to collaborate with the FRG to reduce movement across the border, in exchange for certain economic concessions: the emerging microelectronics industry (the only area in which the West could call itself superior in) was of particular interest. East German negotiators offered to restrict border movement from the annual 180,000 people (in 1988) to only 15,000, with the restrictions coming into effect within two years. Within that time, the FRG would pay microelectronics factories to close up shop and relocate to the East, along with sending trained personnel to educate East Germans on production techniques. Soon after the agreements were set in stone, the FRG government realized that it had made an enormous mistake: once people had heard that border movement would be stopped, many skilled professionals (who lived in the West and went to the East for work every day) instead opted to permanently drop their West German citizenship and undergo naturalization in the GDR. At the same time, the closure of microelectronics factories across the country contributed to a minor (but considerable) uptick in unemployment. West German labour unions refused to allow the factories to simply be shut down, and extracted concessions in the tens of millions, all of which eventually came from the vaults of the West German government.
But the worst was soon to come – in 1991, international stock markets shedded half of their value over the course of three weeks, and the FRG soon lost 30% of its industrial output. By 1991, GDP per capita in East Germany had grown to an astounding €30,200, while West Germany, wracked with inequality and debt, averaged at €14,600 – with most of that wealth concentrated in the pockets of the wealthy. In East Germany, the Sixth Five-Year Plan brought with it a cap on labour-hours to an absurdly low 16 hours a week – severely demoralizing the West, and throwing it into a political crisis. By November of that year, after a snap election and several unsuccessful coalition negotiations, the Federal Republic of Germany had not yet fallen, but from Bonn to Koblenz to Düsseldorf, violence was erupting in every major city. With plentiful financial aid from East Germany, communist guerilla groups, such as the re-emerging Red Army Faction, clashed with police, with local governments being dissolved everywhere. With the USA taking an isolationist stance after withdrawing from Vietnam in 1986, NATO bit its nails, fretted, and delayed, until the West German government inevitably dissolved, and was integrated with the GDR in 1995.
By 1996, after civil order had been restored in the unified Germany, this poster started appearing across several US cities, encouraging Americans to defect to the GDR.