The main challenge in writing a basic general survey such as I attempt here is distillation. And distillation inevitably entails the omission or condensation of material that specialists would prefer to include or to develop. But a basic book cannot be a comprehensive chronology, nor a heavily footnoted research monograph, nor a deeply searching analysis. While I, too, regret the absence from the following pages of many interesting episodes, important personalities, and suggestive arguments that I would have liked to include, I must nevertheless ask the reader to judge this volume by the criteria that are appropriate to its own genre—that of a general survey—and not by standards alien to it.
A word is in order as to why this book does not include a consolidated analysis of the political history of East Germany comparable to my extended probing into those of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania. The (East) German Democratic Republic is indeed a state, but it is not a nation and is less than half a country. Before World War II it was not even a state (unlike my other cases), but simply a part of Germany and hence not in East Central Europe. Since I view this book as a continuation of my East Central Europe Between the Two World Wars (1974), those are valid reasons for omitting East Germany here. More important, however, is the consideration that East German domestic and foreign politics are so overwhelmingly a part and a function of “the question of divided Germany” on the Great Power agenda, that any serious effort on my part to explore them in this book would have burst its perimeters and muddied my professional waters. Greece, in turn, is omitted