During the Cold War, in everyday conversation, was West Germany referred to as "Germany" like South Korea is currently often referred to as "Korea" and the People's Republic of China is currently often referred to as "China"?

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    As far as I can remember in West Europe you used to refer to West Germany as Germany at that time. while you used to refer to Est Germany if you meant the other part of the country. – user66974 Nov 22 '14 at 11:02
  • In the US I think it was usually "West Germany", unless that was clear from the context. (Eg, if someone said "I'm going to fly to Germany next week" most listeners would assume West Germany, but if speaking of the government it would have been "the West German government".) In fact, I recall that it seemed a little odd, after the "reunification", that the "West" was missing all the time. – Hot Licks Nov 22 '14 at 13:55
  • Don’t forget DDR vs FRD/BRD. – tchrist Nov 22 '14 at 14:04
  • If it can help, Ngram shows that 'Germany' also in that period was by far more used than 'West or East Germany'. books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Nov 22 '14 at 14:58

My experience only covers international media at the time (to some extent) and colloquial speech in German, within West Germany. Nevertheless, I think this may help:

As I remember it, it was not handled very consistently. I think the typical approach was to call it West Germany on the first mention and become very inconsistent afterwards. If the context was clear and the medium relatively informal, it may have been just Germany from the beginning. Some people were more consistent about the careful distinction for political reasons -- typically as a reminder that there was a political problem there. (In Western Europe people tended to almost forget about this.)

I think a somewhat similar situation (obviously without the political dimension) is that of the US vs. America. It's inconvenient to talk about the United States all the time, so America is used as a synonym even though strictly speaking that's a much larger area. The US is just the most important part of America for most English speakers. But West Germany wasn't quite as dominant, and also East Germany also laid claim to the same name. So use of "Germany" for West Germany tended to be a bit more limited than use of "America" for the US.

By the way, it's not true that people had virtually no contact with East Germany. They did have some significant exports, and in sports they were in a close competition with West Germany (in terms of olympic gold medals and such).

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    I've never heard anyone refer to the U.S. as "North America". Can you give an example of this usage? – ruakh Nov 24 '14 at 2:19
  • Good point. When I wrote that, I was obviously concentrating on something else. I am correcting my answer. – user86291 Nov 27 '14 at 23:54

I honestly don't remember anyone saying Germany during the Cold War. I'm from Canada, not Europe, but it was always West Germany.

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Yes. Press archives are a good way to confirm this, e.g.:

The greatest moment in the history of English football came at 5.15 this afternoon when Geoff Hurst shot the magnificent goal that made certain of the World Cup. It was Hurst's third goal, England's fourth, and, coming as it did in the final seconds of extra time, it shattered the last remnants of German resistance.

Germany had equalized with the last kick in the regular 90 minutes, and they had gone within inches of repeating the blow in extra time when Seeler lunged in on a headed pass by Held. But Moore took the ball coolly out of defence and lifted it upfield to Hurst 10 yards inside the German half. The referee was already looking at his watch and three England supporters had prematurely invaded the pitch as Hurst took the ball on his chest.

At first he seemed inclined to dawdle out time. Then abruptly he sprinted through on the inside-left position with a German defender pressing him. As Tilkowski prepared to move out, Hurst swung his left foot and drove the ball breathtakingly into the top of the net.

From the Vault: Hurst's hat-trick wins the World Cup, The Guardian, originally published 1966.

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    Well, I hardly think commentary of a football match exemplifies how people referred to the country in daily speech. Plus, was there a chance that England was playing East Germany? -1 – pazzo Nov 22 '14 at 18:16
  • @CarSmack, true, although that source is a newspaper article rather then TV or radio commentary. The match was definitely England v. West Germany: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1966_FIFA_World_Cup What source would you suggest for unscripted spoken usage from that period? – A E Nov 22 '14 at 18:59
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    The OP asks about everyday conversation, so I would cite observed and personal usage from the time period, as does my answer, although it cannot claim to represent all everyday uses all over the English-speaking world, but neither can your example. – pazzo Nov 22 '14 at 21:39
  • @CarSmack: According to Wikipedia, England played East Germany in 1963, 1970, 1974 and 1984. They did play West Germany much more often. I agree that this article is a bit problematic, but for a slightly different reason: The context of a game against West Germany, not East Germany, was probably taken for granted at the time. A game against East Germany might actually have been described with the same words, though in that case an explicit mention of East Germany would certainly have been a bit more likely. – user86291 Nov 23 '14 at 3:07

During the Cold War, my family and friends would always say: My dad is/was stationed in Germany. No one thought he was in East Germany. There was also Berlin and East Berlin.

Note: context is USA.

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  • I've edited my answer slightly, but I am one who does not give drive-by downvotes. – pazzo Nov 22 '14 at 18:13

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