Uniting Germany: Actions and Reactions

Uniting Germany: Actions and Reactions

Uniting Germany: Actions and Reactions

Uniting Germany: Actions and Reactions

Excerpt

The story of German reunification is contemporary history at its most exciting. It displayed the tactics and strategy of a complex game. It embodied surprises, action and reaction, joy and fear, deception and pretence, and confidence. In it defiance, thrusts, counters, and tactical withdrawals followed one another in quick succession. Pursuit of freedom and democracy, of a better life and national identity, and the powerful, long-suppressed emotions they released were its driving force.

The stakes were high, a new order in Europe. This made the process of reunification the top game in recent history from the autumn of 1989 to the autumn of 1990. The following chapters attempt to make sense of this game and unravel the story of how it was played. Much of it was high drama full of raw emotion, but it also involved grandstanding and unconvincing theatre. Both emotions and pretensions reached headier heights than during more ordinary, humdrum times. Since so much was at stake, all the major players strived and strained to perform as effectively as they could. This they did within the limits set by their vision, by the means of their abilities, and by the resources at their command.

As always, some did better and some did worse and therefore their participation and the outcome were not equally satisfactory or pleasing to all. Some felt that they had won, and were happy and pleased. Others thought they had at least gained something in return for their concessions or at least avoided potential disasters. Yet others, however, had little reason to be pleased and emitted anguished cries during the game, but eventually they had to put a brave face on their disappointment. The reader can draw his own conclusions as to how these results applied to the main players and characters.

More than anything else, German reunification signalled and signalized a fundamental transformation in the distribution of power and correlation of forces in Europe. The curtain was closing on the post-war era of American and Soviet domination of their respective regions of the continent. The opening of the Berlin wall and Chancellor Helmut Kohl's speech and plan for a German confederation first symbolized this watershed. In this context . . .

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