Germany competed as a unified team until 1968. From 1968 through 1988, East Germany (GDR) and West Germany (FRG) competed separately (East Germans participated as part of the combined German team from 1956-64). Germany was not invited to the Winter Games in 1924 and 1948 because of its role in World War I and World War II, respectively.
East Germany is tenth on the all-time list with 110 medals (39 gold, 36 silver, 35 bronze), and won the most medals at the 1980 Lake Placid Games (23). West Germany is 15th on the all-time medals list with 39 (11-15-13). Unified Germany is fifth all-time with 179 medals (68-65-46) and made its triumphant return in 1992, winning the most medals (26) of any country.
All told, German athletes have won 328 medals in the Olympic Winter Games. Germany hosted the IV Olympic Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936.
It has a wonderful speed skating tradition, led by a pair of eight-time medalists, Karin (Enke) Kania (who competed for East Germany) and Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann (who competed for East Germany and unified Germany).
Biathlete Uschi Disl finished her career with nine Olympic medals.
Luger Georg Hackl made history in Nagano, winning the men's singles competition for the third straight Olympics. He joined only four others to win an individual event in three consecutive Olympic Winter Games (five others have now done it). In Salt Lake, he won a silver medal, becoming the first Olympic athlete (winter or summer) to win a medal in an individual event at five consecutive Games (he also won silver in 1988).
Germans have traditionally done well in bobsled as well, led by Wolfgang Hoppe, who has six career medals.
Figure skater Katarina Witt, who won gold in 1984 and 1988, is one of the most beloved and internationally famous winter athletes in the world. Five-time medalist Katja Seizinger won two golds in Nagano and is the most decorated Alpine skier in German history. She is also the only repeat champion in Olympic downhill history.
Germany won the most medals of any country in Salt Lake (36) and Torino (29), including three of the last four gold medals in bobsled, won by Andre Lange.
Germany hosted the Games of the XI Olympiad in 1936 in Berlin. Adolf Hitler turned the 1936 Games into a propaganda show for Germany and his Aryan superiority theory. But American Jesse Owens got in the way - winning four gold medals and debunking the theory. That same year, the nation hosted the Olympic Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Munich, in West Germany, hosted the Games of the XX Olympiad in 1972. The 1972 Games are most often remembered for Mark Spitz's seven swimming gold medals and, outside the field of play, for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.
Munich is one of three cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Games. Annecy, France and Pyeongchang, South Korea are the other two. The winner will be announced on July 6, 2011, at the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa.