Osthandel and Ostpolitik: German Foreign Trade Policies in Eastern Europe from Bismarck to Adenauer

Osthandel and Ostpolitik: German Foreign Trade Policies in Eastern Europe from Bismarck to Adenauer

Osthandel and Ostpolitik: German Foreign Trade Policies in Eastern Europe from Bismarck to Adenauer

Osthandel and Ostpolitik: German Foreign Trade Policies in Eastern Europe from Bismarck to Adenauer

Synopsis

Robert Mark Spaulding teaches in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Excerpt

Eclipsed by the scope of the Atlantic economy, obscured by Anglo- German rivalry, and nearly destroyed by the post-1945 division of Europe, the flow of goods across East Central Europe has been, nonetheless, an immensely significant pattern of European economic exchange. For Germany, the Osthandel (Eastern trade) was both a blessing and a curse; its bounty provided much of the raw material for the rise of German economic and political power in Europe, while its lure tantalized German ambitions to the point of madness. Despite the enduring importance of this commerce, no monograph has yet made this pattern of trade the centerpiece of its treatment of German-East European relations. This study puts this important pattern of German-East European trade into the center of discussion and views an extended period of German foreign policy toward Eastern Europe through this lens.

Excluding the "working class question" (loosely defined), no other economic issue has been or is now more important than trade policy for the functioning of an industrial economy in Germany. Macroeconomic measures of trade vulnerability before 1914 show that among European countries the Reich had the second-largest stake in foreign trade, behind only the United Kingdom. Even prior to German unification in 1990, the Federal Republic had emerged as one of the world's premier exporting nations. the Germans themselves have acutely perceived their dependence on foreign trade. When West German politicians dubbed trade "the alpha and omega of our economic future," they spoke from long experience with the . . .

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