Money and security : troops, monetary policy and West Germany's relations with the United States and Britain, 1950-1971 /

By Hubert Zimmermann | Go to book overview

Introduction

THE ISSUE

On a cloudy, late summer day in Berlin, at a time when the research for this book was already well under way, its subject was officially declared history. After almost fifty years of uninterrupted presence, American, British, and French soldiers left their garrisons in the formerly divided city on September 8, 1994. A solemn ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate, featuring German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French President François Mitterrand, British Prime Minister John Major, and U. S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, concluded one of the last chapters of the Cold War. The highly symbolic event had many less spectacular precursors. After the epochal year 1989 similar ceremonies were held in many German cities as Allied troops moved out of the bases that had been maintained since the end of World War II. Rousing farewell speeches emphasized the bravery of the troops, the success they had with their mission of safeguarding the freedom of (West) Germany, and the magnanimity of the countries that had sent them. The return of the soldiers to their home countries signaled the end of an era.

Yet, despite the fact that the Cold War is generally declared over, NATO troops are still present in many places in Germany. Their continuing presence suggests that the significance of these troops always stretched beyond the obvious, that is, the protection of West Germany against the threat from the East. The large-scale Allied stationing of troops in Germany was among the most conspicuous and peculiar phenomena of the Cold War period in Europe. Such a long peacetime presence of foreign troops in an Allied country is without precedent. The British and American troops, on whom this study concentrates, were a major factor in the political relations between these countries and the Federal

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