Expediting Negotiations in 1971:
Superpower Maneuvering and
the Importance of China
The Soviet shift of October 1970—toward encouraging German-German contacts rather than blocking them—became more pronounced throughout 1971. The reason was Soviet desire for ratiication of the Moscow Treaty by the West German parliament as soon as possible. However, as will be described below, by 1971 the Soviet leadership realized that the Western powers had decided to make ratiication contingent on progress in the four-power Berlin negotiations. Hence, Moscow had no choice but to expedite the Berlin talks in hopes of achieving ratiication.
In fact, both superpowers showed new interest in making progress on the German question in 1971, but both were dependent on their German ally to do so. To understand why, it is necessary to examine the linkages between four events: (1) the talks between East and West Germany, (2) superpower relations in 1971, (3) increased superpower involvement in German-German affairs in 1971, and (4) the ouster of Ulbricht. The story of 1971 is the story of the links between these events.