City on Leave: A History of Berlin, 1945-1962

Excerpt

Since 1945 Berlin has played a dominant part in international relations. It has become one of the two or three problems which are capable of starting a world war. If the world's two leading powers have shown again and again that they are determined to avoid a conflict there, each has also shown some desire to exploit these fears to maintain or improve its position. They have always drawn back at the last minute, and sometimes the German authorities have themselves acted to save the world from the imminent risk of war. But the danger is still present.

This history, and the fact that the Berlin problem arises inevitably out of the city's political status and geographical position, have given the 'Berlin crises' of the past seventeen years an appearance of continuity which they do not in fact possess. The motives which inspired the Blockade were quite different from those which lay behind Khrushchev's ultimatum in 1958; and the crisis which this touched off had radically changed in nature by 1961.

This book is an attempt to show how these different crises arose out of the setting of international relations, and the changing problem of Germany since the end of the Second World War. I have tried to show the motives of each side, and to relate the part played by the Germans themselves in these years -- the East Germans as well as their overlords, the West Berliners as well as their protectors, who in fact often followed German initiatives. But Berlin has not always been a significant problem: when the evolution of Germany, or the requirements of Russian policy allowed it, it has been forgotten -- sometimes for a long period. There are signs in 1962 that this may again be happening. Yet West Berlin still has peculiar problems to face, and its existence will be precarious as long as the Cold War goes on. So I have also given an account of the growth of the city of West Berlin, of the political leadership it has been given, and of its relationship with the Federal Republic.

I have enjoyed much generous help and hospitality while writing. I should particularly like to express my gratitude to the . . .

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • London
Publication year:
  • 1963

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