Eroding Empire: Western Relations with Eastern Europe

By Lincoln Gordon; J. F. Brown et al. | Go to book overview
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The View from Bonn: The Tacit Alliance


GERMANY, as usual, is different. The key factor that sets it (in its ever-shifting political and territorial guise) apart from the other major countries treated in this book is geography. The United States, France, and Britain do not share any borders with Eastern Europe, nor have their involvements in the area achieved even remotely comparable levels of intensity. France has been separated from Eastern Europe by the landmass that is Germany, the two maritime nations by the North Sea and the Atlantic.

Factors Shaping German Policy toward the East

Germany is Central Europe, a part of that ill-defined land between West and East that stretches from the Rhine to the Russian border. In the past forty years one part of Germany, the Federal Republic, has of course been of the West and with the West, but in the flow of history this is a novel development. During the past millennium Germany has been both East and West, perhaps even neither. In the Middle Ages, German colonialism, led eastward by the Teutonic Knights, extended its sway as far as Lithuania. The Habsburg Reich, which would eventually become Austria-Hungary, stretched deep into the Balkans, and it incorporated much of what is today Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland. Modern, post-1871Germany was essentially


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