Germany's Cold War: The Global Campaign to Isolate East Germany, 1949-1969

Germany's Cold War: The Global Campaign to Isolate East Germany, 1949-1969

Germany's Cold War: The Global Campaign to Isolate East Germany, 1949-1969

Germany's Cold War: The Global Campaign to Isolate East Germany, 1949-1969

Synopsis

Using newly available material from both sides of the Iron Curtain, William Glenn Gray explores West Germany's efforts to prevent international acceptance of East Germany as a legitimate state following World War II. Unwilling to accept the division of their country, West German leaders regarded the German Democratic Republic (GDR) as an illegitimate upstart--a puppet of the occupying Soviet forces. Together with France, Britain, and the United States, West Germany applied political and financial pressure around the globe to ensure that the GDR remain unrecognized by all countries outside the communist camp. Proclamations of ideological solidarity and narrowly targeted bursts of aid gave the GDR momentary leverage in such diverse countries as Egypt, Iraq, Ghana, and Indonesia; yet West Germany's intimidation tactics, coupled with its vastly superior economic resources, blocked any decisive East German breakthrough. Gray argues that Bonn's isolation campaign was dropped not for want of success, but as a result of changes in West German priorities as the struggle against East Germany came to hamper efforts at reconciliation with Israel, Poland, and Yugoslavia--all countries of special relevance to Germany's recent past. Interest in a morally grounded diplomacy, together with the growing conviction that the GDR could no longer be ignored, led to the abandonment of Bonn's effective but outdated efforts to hinder worldwide recognition of the East German regime.

Excerpt

Only gradually in the winter of 1955-56 did the SED's leaders come to appreciate the extent of their continuing isolation. the hardening of the status quo in Europe had not led the nonaligned countries to embrace the gdr as a second state after all. Even those leaders most favorably disposed to the gdr, such as Nasser and Nehru, were still blatantly discriminating in favor of West Germany. Bitter protests about this injustice won East German diplomats few friends in the capitals of the developing world. Arduous local efforts to "ratchet up" the official status of East German missions had little effect on the GDR's overall position. Association with the Soviet Union was Ulbricht's one significant asset; nonaligned leaders courting Moscow's favor found it expedient to offer concessions to East Berlin. Yet even these cases did not automatically yield long-sought breakthroughs, for Soviet diplomats acted to restrain their East German colleagues. To a surprising extent, Moscow sympathized with the reluctance of African and Asian statesmen to provoke West Germany's ire.

Flush with success, officials on the Rhine began to regard the improvised threats of December 1955 as a long-term strategy for containing the gdr. Nevertheless, whenever the interests of Bonn's isolation campaign clashed with Adenauer's firm intention to expand West German political and economic influence in the developing world, the latter usually won. in Eastern Europe, too, the absence of relations with the "satellite" states was becoming a political liability. During the 1957 election campaign, the chancellor and others in his party hinted that the fall might bring a reevaluation of Bonn's policies toward Eastern Europe. West German diplomats held exploratory conversations with their Polish counterparts in Washington and Belgrade. in the midst of all the speculation about Adenauer's intentions, Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia concluded that he could safely recognize the gdr without fear of retaliation from Bonn.

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