The Oder-Neisse Line: The United States, Poland, and Germany in the Cold War

The Oder-Neisse Line: The United States, Poland, and Germany in the Cold War

The Oder-Neisse Line: The United States, Poland, and Germany in the Cold War

The Oder-Neisse Line: The United States, Poland, and Germany in the Cold War

Synopsis

This is the first study to cover the full history of the Oder-Niesse line and its impact on U. S. relations with Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as its domestic implications, throughout the Cold War years. It reveals how American diplomats and policy makers handled internal conflict and the perceptions of America held by Europeans, and how the State Department interacted with the public.

Excerpt

Poland’s geographic and political situation in 1939 allowed the German and Soviet armies a relatively easy victory over the twenty-year-old Polish Republic, which emerged from the war suffering tremendous destruction of land and people. the Poland of 1945 had shorter, more defensible borders that had been shifted approximately 150 miles westward as a result of decisions made at wartime conferences. the eastern border with the Soviet Union had been agreed upon at the Yalta Conference and approximated the same line established in the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact prior to the invasion. the western border lay along a line following the Oder and Neisse Rivers that was instituted by Allied agreement at the Potsdam Conference in July and August 1945. Varying interpretations of this agreement regarding Poland’s western border soon surfaced, however. the Potsdam Accord stated that Poland’s administration of the area was provisional and that Germany’s borders would be finalized at a peace conference, leaving open the possibility that Poland’s western border could be changed in Germany’s favor. the Accord, however, also acknowledged the transfer of Germans from the area that would total in the millions, thereby suggesting that Polish control of the land east of the OderNeisse would be permanent. These apparent contradictions served to heighten the growing tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union as the Polish government came under the control of Soviet-trained communists, and the United States tried to formulate policies to deal with the situation. As East and West drew further apart in the decades following World War II, hope for a mutually satisfactory settlement of the border issue seemed to evaporate. Although the Polish and German governments signed a treaty in 1970 acknowledging the border, the United States withheld formal recognition of the Oder-Neisse until the revolutionary changes of 1989 and 1990, when the World War II Allies formally approved a peace treaty with Germany within its existing . . .

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