I came across a podcast on Berlin Wall and they said that for Germany post-World War II: "Ein Viertel wurde von den USA verwaltet." I would have imagined to use 'regieren' here. Turns out verwalten predominantly means 'to manage' etc but how do we differentiate between the two terms on a nation's level and in everyday use? How bad would it have been to use 'regieren' here?

Similarly, what is the difference between 'Verwaltung' and 'Regierung'?

2 Answers 2


Maybe by first answering the last part of your question helps in clarifying the first part as well.

"Verwaltung" means "[the] Administration" that is everybody employed in managing the state, while "Regierung" in a narrower sense are the (often directly elected) people of the Government. In Germany, one would normally call "Regierung" only Ms Merkel and her Ministers, while the "Verwaltung" also includes people that are responsible for collecting taxes, handle marriages or divorces and issue passports. In a wider sense this may even include judges (who, in a modern state, should never depend on the government).

  • So why the term 'verwalten' for USA? Wasn't it ruling its part of Germany then? Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 0:52
  • 1
    As I wrote, "verwalten" is a superset of "regieren". Not only the government was mostly americans, the administration as well. In the Nuremberg Trials, American judges were acting. So "verwalten" is right here, because it is more than just government.
    – PMF
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 8:04

Verwalten is to "administer," while "regieren" is to rule. The purpose of the post-war order was to help transition Germany to "self-rule" or "self-government," while the Allies maintained "administrative" control during the transition.

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