The Soviet zone surrounded West Berlin, but did not include it; as a result, West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR. The German Democratic Republic was established in the Soviet Zone, while the Federal Republic was established in the three western zones. The East was often described as a satellite state of the Soviet Union. Soviet occupation authorities began transferring administrative responsibility to German communist leaders in 1948, and the GDR began to function as a state on 7 October 1949. Soviet forces, however, remained in the country throughout the Cold War.
The GDR established the Ministry for State Security, or "Stasi", which aided the Soviet Army in suppressing uprisings in 1953. Until 1989, the GDR was governed by the Socialist Unity Party (SED), though other parties nominally participated in its alliance organisation, the National Front of Democratic Germany.