Common Destiny: A Comparative History of the Dutch, French, and German Social Democratic Parties, 1945-1969

By Dietrich Orlow | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
FOREIGN RELATIONS,
1945-1955

The prevailing view was that, when it came to foreign policy, the Social Democrats were simply out of the loop. In West Germany the occupation powers handled foreign relations for much of the decade, and in France and Holland most accounts show the Socialist parties as having little influence or interest in the conduct of foreign relations. When they did offer new ideas, they turned out to be unrealistic and impractical. 1

This is not an altogether fair assessment; the Socialists were not uninterested in foreign relations. In Germany the SPD based much of its early postwar electoral campaign strategy on an unsuccessful attempt to establish the priority of foreign policy in German politics. As we shall see, elsewhere too, the Social Democrats were instrumental in effecting a number of important policy decisions. It was true, however, that the Socialists entered the postwar era with some quite unrealistic expectations about the future patterns of foreign relations. They were initially convinced that the horrors of the Second World War had finally demonstrated the futility of conducting foreign relations as a series of interactions between power-oriented nation states. Learning the lessons from the failure of the Versailles system, the Big Four and the nations of Europe should and would now put internationalism ahead of nationalism and moral principles ahead of Realpolitik. They would also entrust much of the process of foreign relations to supra-national bodies like the United Nations and the Socialist International. 2

-139-

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Common Destiny: A Comparative History of the Dutch, French, and German Social Democratic Parties, 1945-1969
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Abberviations viii
  • Introduction 1
  • Parallel Pasts - Founding to 1945 9
  • The Making of a Tertiary Industrial Society, 1945-1969 29
  • Euphoria, Disillusionment, and Adaptation, 1945-1949 44
  • Parties in Flux, 1946-1957 65
  • Domestic Affairs, 1945-1955 102
  • Foreign Relations, 1945-1955 139
  • The End of the Long Decade - Crisis and Response, 1955-1961 183
  • The Troubled 1960s 224
  • Conclusion 272
  • Notes 281
  • Bibliography 327
  • Index 360
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