Two Armies and One Fatherland: The End of the Nationale Volksarmee

By Jörg Schönbohm; Peter Johnson et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
DEVELOPMENTS IN SECURITY POLICY AFTER 1988

The ice had been broken in Moscow but the military facts remained unchanged. More than 350,000 Soviet soldiers were still stationed in the GDR, with modern equipment and armaments, with nuclear and chemical weapons. The negotiations in Vienna on the control of conventional arms were stagnating, the talks on strategic arms reductions (START) were making no progress; only the agreements on mutual observation of manoeuvres within the framework of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), as well as the related notification of manoeuvres, were still being complied with. Even here, there were already fierce discussions and disputes with the Soviet Union and some Eastern Bloc states about questions of pure 'protocol' such as, whether manoeuvre observers were allowed to use their own binoculars, a compass or even a dictaphone. These questions were dealt with by experts, far from highlevel politics, but they influenced the climate and atmosphere of the negotiations which followed.

In spite of all the arguments the leadership of the Bundeswehr was prepared to reveal details of the potential and capabilities of our forces in order to win trust and reduce prejudices. On the other hand, we had to continue to maintain the credibility of our defence capability within the Alliance. At what cost could we make unilateral advance concessions, in view of the overwhelming superiority of the Soviet Union? The path between hope and risk was narrow.

Were the Soviet worries and caution about us based on the experiences and traumatic events of the Second World War, or was this experience merely being used to ensure their own superiority for the

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