Dealing with the Devil: East Germany, Detente, and Ostpolitik, 1969-1973

By M. E. Sarotte | Go to book overview

Conclusion:
The Costs of Dealing with the Devil

Mit Worten läßt sich trefflich streiten, Mit Worten ein System bereiten, An Worte läßt sich trefflich glauben, Von einem Wort läßt sich kein Jota rauben.

Words can justify us for the ight And words can make our philosophy right Thus words ensure our cause is just From a single word not a jot is lost.

—Goethe, Faust

The formal negotiations between the two Germanies drew to a close without any delegation member commenting on just how appropriate the East German gift of Faust had been. Perhaps the analogy was simply too unflattering. Yet the course of the East/West German rapprochement shows that it was apt nonetheless. Both Germanies found themselves dealing with the devil in hopes of achieving speciic aims.

On the Western end, Brandt and Bahr forsook confrontation and instead used words to ight against the inhumanities of the German division. They found themselves faced with the unpleasant necessity of conversing civilly with dictators, were nearly removed from ofice by a vote of no conidence because of it, and endured withering press criticism throughout. The particularly vitriolic attacks of the papers owned by Axel Springer at one point prompted Bahr to send an impassioned reply to Springer personally. Bahr wrote that he was unwilling merely to sit by and watch Ulbricht become stronger and the division of Germany become deeper. “To save what can be saved of Germany demands more courage, more fantasy, more work—and the willingness to let oneself be

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