Wartime Origins of the East-West Dilemma over Germany

Wartime Origins of the East-West Dilemma over Germany

Wartime Origins of the East-West Dilemma over Germany

Wartime Origins of the East-West Dilemma over Germany

Excerpt

For many years after 1945, called by nervous contemporaries the period of the "Cold War," American and Soviet leaders talked much of fighting but kept their peace. Both sides knew that victory in an actual conflict would be an uncertain gamble. Wise men in both camps said neither side could win an all-out war.

The one area on earth that many people could imagine to be worth the great risk of war was Germany, or what was left of that once-hegemonic complex of power and culture. The one city in the world over which war seemed likely to erupt was that split metropolis on the Spree where German troops had paraded in 1871, victorious from a war against France to unify the German Empire; where civilian recruits had rallied to hail their Kaiser in 1914 before marching off to a two-front war that couldn't be won; where brown-shirted Nazis had goose-stepped down Unter den Linden under the grim eyes of a half-brilliant, half-mad Führer.

At Berlin the Red Army and the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in the Cold War era, barely separated by the remains of the Brandenburg Gate. Most people were too worried to think much about how this situation had arisen. A few elder statesmen remembered. Journalists had half-forgotten and half-garbled the details. It was too early for cautious historians to tell their versions of the origins of the dilemma. Vaguely, the man on the street thought that it had somehow resulted from the last of the earth-bound struggles, usually known as World War II

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