Skip to content

Reunification: Germany Succeeds in Icy Negotiations

Germany has been criticized for a self-centered foreign and economic policy lately: Afghanistan, economic stimulus, Greece. Germany's commitment to the transatlantic alliance and European integration is called into question. I wonder how much of this is influenced by German reunification 20 years ago. We achieved our main goal (the jackpot) back then and need allies less since. Besides, our friends in the West were not very supportive of our main foreign policy goal, if the Spiegel's summary of the road to unification is to believed.

President Bush is described as "rather indifferent to the question of unification" and erecting "the highest hurdle when he stated that the United States would only agree to reunification if the new Germany were brought into the NATO fold."

British diplomats wondered whether this was a trick aimed at postponing German reunification for years to come. Nevertheless, Kohl agreed to Bush's proposal. He was concerned that if Germany became neutral, NATO would collapse. Without the North Atlantic pact, Kohl worried, the Americans would disappear from Europe, and nuclear powers France and Great Britain would then form a tighter alliance. It was an outcome no chancellor could possibly wish for. But if Kohl agreed to NATO membership, Bush would stand by his word -- and American influence in Europe would increase. The only problem was convincing Gorbachev to accept both reunification and NATO membership. His troops were still stationed in East Germany, which was still a member or the Warsaw Pact, and Gorbachev was still convinced that a leftist political party emerging from the SED could save the GDR.

Why did Gorbachev agree so quickly? According to Spiegel he was so busy with the Soviet Union's domestic troubles that he did not care that much about Germany. (Another reason was that he was a moralist and did not want to be seen as an extortionist by putting more demands on Germany.)  Though, opposition to reunification grew in the West in 1989 and 1990:

The more East Germany progresses toward collapse in the coming weeks, the more solid the alliance of the opponents of reunification seems to become. Politicians and diplomats alike, and not just those of the four victorious powers of World War II, are deeply concerned about the events along the dividing line between East and West. Rarely is this concern given voice. Indeed, one of the few public utterances opposing German reunification comes from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who speculates in an interview that if a reunified Germany, a country in which "the great majority of the German people (once) decided to kill millions of Jewish people," becomes "the strongest country in Europe, and maybe in the world, they will try to do it again." But behind the closed doors of NATO and European Community conferences, the allies make it abundantly clear to the West Germans that they are adamantly opposed to allowing East Germany to perish. Italy's Giulio Andreotti, a member of 33 governments and now prime minister for the sixth time, warns against a new "pan-Germanism," Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers questions the Germans' right of self-determination and French President Mitterrand says that Europe isn't ready for German reunification. The mood among European leaders was "icy," German Chancellor Helmut Kohl later reports, adding that this is something he has never forgotten.

Perhaps today's generation of politicians has not forgotten the icy mood either and therefore pursue German interests as strongly in icy (?) negotiations over the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003, the economic crisis in 2008 and the Greece bailout in 2010. Helmut Kohl was more of a European visionary and Atlanticist than all chancellors (and foreign ministers, excl. perhaps Joschka Fischer) since then. The negotiations at the UN and elsewhere over Saddam's non-compliance with UN resolution were perhaps as brutal and ruthless as those about German unification. Many Americans still hold a grudge at Germany's for the way Schroeder opposed the Iraq war. Condoleeza Rice says in the Spiegel interview (which focuses on her role in the unification negotiations):

My only disappointment about Iraq was the picture of the German chancellor standing with the French president and the Russian president to protest the war. I have no problem with Germany disagreeing, but the Russian president should not have been standing there, given our history. Friends disagree, but symbols matter.

Spiegel describes the reunification negotiations as a ruthless chess match with

French President Mitterrand warned the Germans against Thatcher, and he warned Thatcher against the Germans. The conservative British leader, on the other hand, despised the Soviet dictatorship, and yet she was in favor of Moscow's troops remaining in East Germany for as long as possible, noting: "We might one day need the Soviet Union as a counter-balance to a united Germany." The Americans, too, coolly pursued their interests, which led them to favor a unified Germany within NATO, a view they openly expressed. When the NATO ambassador in Bonn wanted to know how this was to be interpreted, a US official replied that Washington's preferred solution contained "an element of warning" to all Germans in favor of their country becoming neutral. Germany's diplomats, of course, were equally calculating.

Another Spiegel article discusses whether Germany had to give up the Deutsche Mark and agree to a faster adoption of the common European currency to get French support for the unification and to calm all the other European governments who were afraid of a powerful Germany. Apparently they were still concerned about Germany's foreign policy (military) ambitions and also overestimated the economic power of East Germany. They did not imagine that we would spend most of our resources on domestic politics the next twenty years. Building up the east Germany and unifying East and West Germany proved more difficult and expensive and absorbed more of our attention than they thought possible back then. And even today, twenty years later there is so much to do and keep us from any foreign policy adventures:

East Germans represent 20% of the population but under 5% of the elite in politics, business, science and media, found the sociologists at Bielefeld University. Merkel grew up in the east but her cabinet consists of west Germans. None of the 30 leading companies listed in the German share index have an east German boss.

Trackbacks

No Trackbacks

Comments

Display comments as Linear | Threaded

Marie Claude on :

all is said in the first paragraph

Joerg Wolf on :

OK. And what do you think of France's policies in 1989 and 1990? Was Mitterrand right to worry about German unification? Do you think he blackmailed Germany into agreeing to a common European currency (first called ECU, then Euro)?

Pat Patterson on :

Describing Bush as indifferent was in the words of the Spiegel correspondent not those of former Secretary of State Rice. In fact Bush had alreay made it clear to France and Britain that he would support reunification. "He was very clear that we Americans were going to stand for unification. In those first comments to press people in the Oval Office, the day the wall fell, he was cautious not out of any view that Germany shouldn't unify but that this was not the time for the American president to make bold statements. In internal deliberations, however, the president never tried in any way to prevent German unification. He was quite comfortable with it." What he also was concerned with was making a strong public statement and then pushing the Soviets into some rash act.

Joerg Wolf on :

Yes, Spiegel claims "President Bush openly admitted he was rather indifferent to the question of unification." Spiegel also writes: "US President Bush, a dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist, says today that he had not made up his mind at the time and followed the lead of his advisors. His chief advisor, National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, seemed initially content with the status quo, saying: "What was wrong with a divided Germany as long as the situation was stable?"" http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,druck-719848,00.html Perhaps Schroeder also told Bush in 2002: Why invade Iraq? Saddam is contained and the situation is stable. The US condition for unification was NATO membership. How would Bush have reacted if Kohl had rejected this condition argueing that neutrality would be required to get approval from the Soviet Union?

Joe Noory on :

What I heard on DW-Radio this weekend contributed to the abject lunacy and invention-as-journalism obviously present in the Spiegel statement. Some guest opened up by saying that the US opposed unification and France and Britain were its' proponents. Nonsense. Mitterand opposed it on the simple basis that he feared that France would then not be able to dominate the then yet to be really established, nacent EU. Thatcher had a strange fear that history would repeat itself. The United States was THE ONLY initial supporter of reunification on the basis that it was supporting Kohl's position on it, and from what could be detected from those who inherited DDR's leadership. He wanted it to definately be among the western allies, not some pretend 'neutral' hybrid Gleischhaltung-driven mush aligning itself with neither the west or whatever came of the east. Bush supported it BECAUSE IT'S WHAT GERMANS WANTED. The UK and France opposed it based on what THEY wanted. "Self-determination" for what it was worth at the time of the Germans would not have been a German matter were it not for the United States, and the unknown element was the position ANY Soviet entity or Russian entity would take. Would the Bear, even a "de-communizing" Bear accept the notion on the basis of a reconstituted and economically stellar Germany eclipsing them in their relationships westward? Re-entering 'normalcy' did not mean being patronized or pressured by France, the UK, and Russia, it meant Germans making that choice for themselves, and seeking the consent of the governed, not the 4 powers. The only entity that understood that, and had that degree of respect for the humanity of Germans was Bush and his government. People spinning otherwise need to take a personal inventory of their motives and reflexes if they're trying to invent facts... you probably don't recall the moronic months that Mitterand and Thatcher were 'summiting' to and from and needed to be dragged to the point of "letting" Germans exercise their free will, only to pretend that they gave it to Germans on a platter. The small-mindedness of the Europeans' reasoning was blinding at the time - they didn't look at it as a matter of history or one of philosophical importance. They didn't look at it on the basis of the democratic nature of Germany being inherently free, by virtue of the acclimation of the population that elected its' government and system of government - that they were "permitted" to make their own choices, as if the BRD was some sort of post-dictatorial former rogue state with no functioning institutions or succession of leadership. The point of the 2+4 was not for the post-SED DDR and BRD, it was for the 4 powers - a perfuctory kabuki staged by the US to make the Europeans accept that Germany was to no longer be treated as history's retarded cousin or as an ex-convict. It was also held to end any possibility of someone hanging pointless legalisms over the new Germany's head.

Marie Claude on :

that's what keep saying Mitterrand, it's a German fest ! but you read the fact through your prism, the stakes weren't so obvious at this time

Joe Noory on :

That may have been true in France where they were acting as though they had colonial rights over the situation as if to impress the world with their magnanimity if they didn't really act on their threat to "refuse unification", but otherwise: bull. Even at the time the course and the issues were incredibly obvious, and discussed openly: why where the Europeans acting like the Germans were children who needed others' permission? If you want to engage in conjecture, why not ask the simple question of whether or not a Chancellor Hans-Jochen Vogel would have been as swift a proponent of reunification, or if he would have taken a "two state" approach which would be less provocative to his fellow brother Socialists in Paris and Moscow? It would have been a political rat's nest, with Germans being played off against one another.

Marie Claude on :

"That may have been true in France where they were acting as though they had colonial rights over the situation" hmm, not UK? or is it still your inferiority complex from your origin that still refers to France as a colonial power that is expressing again ? read the below article, you'll see what Mitterrand and Thatcher were discussing about http://globe.blogs.nouvelobs.com/archive/2009/11/04/mitterrand-et-la-reunification-allemande.html you should if you really want to educate yourself !

Joe Noory on :

You mean this? It proves the point: [i]Mitterrand est furieux. Selon lui, tout à son désir de fusionner la RDA et la RFA, le chancelier ouest-allemand va trop vite et consulte trop peu : l’attitude de Helmut Kohl, déclare-t-il à son ami italien, « c’est le fait accompli »[/i] [i]Mitterrand was irate. According to him, in his desire to merge the GDR and the FRG, the West German chancellor went too fast and with too little consultation: the attitude of Helmut Kohl, he saied he to his Italian friend, "is a fait accompli"[/i] Bof. Where did the old Petainiste Fransicarde get off thinking that HE had a right of refusal over any other nation. And it's all right there in his retrograde thinking that was irrelevant to the times that the event was taking place in: [i]Il explique≈: « C’est dans la nature des Allemands d’être portés vers l’est. » D’ailleurs, ajoute le président français, souvenez-vous de cette phrase prémonitoire d’Adolf Hitler dans « Mein Kampf »≈: « Pour nous, Allemands, il n’y a pas de vide à l’ouest, il y en a à l’est » – phrase qu’il cite de mémoire.[/i] [i]He explained (ed.: to Thatcher): "It is the nature of the Germans to look to the east. "Besides, added the French president, remember the prophetic phrase of Adolf Hitler's in" Mein Kampf ": "For us Germans, there is no vacuum in the west, there is the east"- a phrase he quoted from memory.[/i] What exactly does the article say Thatcher said? Nothing. It amounts to a few comments Mitterand made to Thatcher. Does that lead you to believe anything about Thatcher at all? It's the Nouvel Obs. They're pimps for any "Chef d'Etat" of France, especially a bombastic, power thirsty, socialist stooge. As to your belief that I have a "colonial" outlook, I say: get a life. Where do you, in your arrogance, get to assign others their identity or motives, or at least the ones that make you feel good? On top of that, you're too primitive to realize what exactly it meant to be American, and BECOME American. It isn't Europe. It's more than just a place to warehouse ourselves, without understanding the society we have moved to. We BECOME American.

Marie Claude on :

"Where did the old Petainiste Fransicarde get off thinking that HE had a right of refusal over any other nation." Mitterrand was disguised "Alliee" agent inside the regime of vichy (I hold that from a Israelien expert in contemporain history) And it's all right there in his retrograde thinking that was irrelevant to the times that the event was taking place in: He explained (ed.: to Thatcher): "It is the nature of the Germans to look to the east. "Besides, added the French president, remember the prophetic phrase of Adolf Hitler's in" Mein Kampf ": "For us Germans, there is no vacuum in the west, there is the east"- a phrase he quoted from memory." The facts are giving reasons Schröder and Merkel made quite a few agreements with Russia, besides Germany is the first investor there, and in Poland,also in the other eastern republics. George Friedman is also writing it : http://tinyurl.com/28yt9gj What exactly does the article say Thatcher said? "Nothing. It amounts to a few comments Mitterand made to Thatcher. Does that lead you to believe anything about Thatcher at all?" Brit papers hav talk of the unveiled classified documents of the era lately too, and they corroborated what the french journalsit narred "It's the Nouvel Obs. They're pimps for any "Chef d'Etat" of France, especially a bombastic, power thirsty, socialist stooge." it's the journalist's blog, that isn't forced to write in the line of the "hebdo", besides this isn't a opinion post, but a documented report. and tell me which american paper you read that isn't biased ! Where do you, in your arrogance, get to assign others their identity or motives, or at least the ones that make you feel good?" On top of that, you're too primitive to realize what exactly it meant to be American, and BECOME American. It isn't Europe. It's more than just a place to warehouse ourselves, without understanding the society we have moved to. We BECOME American." only born foreigners that have gained a new nationality, are enclined to demonstrate that they are more american than americans, or more French than the French, ie our ministers of Maghrebin origins ! and you are more arrogant than the average of Americans !

Pat Patterson on :

What Israeli claimed Mitterand was an Allied agent? Mitterand at best was an opportunist who made sure he would survived the war but was so mistrusted that he was dismissed from the new government before the Germans surrendered. And were back to the same old canard, usually applied to the US, that when Germany invests in some shady companies they have an ulterior motive but when France does the same thing it is because the French are smarter then everybody else. Well, except for Societe General and Clearstream(?).

Marie Claude on :

Pierre Pean wrote a clear book on Mitterrand, but I agree he was a opportunist. Societe Generale what ? no banksters in the US ? it's from there that the sh**t started! clear stream, uh, don't make me laugh there are many palace conspiracies in the US too

Pat Patterson on :

So Pierre Pean is not the source you originally claimed or is there some anonymous other Israeli that you used? But I do agree that Pean was and remains an opportunist with an axe to grind against the Gaullists and apoligist for the Communists.

Marie Claude on :

"So Pierre Pean is not the source you originally claimed or is there some anonymous other Israeli that you used?" My Israeli source talk as anonymous with a pseudo on ME blogs. Though I wouldn't pass his "info" under the bus, as Israeli (agents) are known to cultivate secre, that that also was a Mitterrand character feature. He was hated for that by quite a significant number of persons in the right and left parties. Though to add some probability in what this Israeli said, isn't it funny that Mitterrand was the only french president that had credit in Israel and in the US ! and was also the president that agreed to participate into the "desert storm" campain, with Bush father, that is a former CIA Director ! so conninvence of secret agents ? I dunno, probably we'll never know, or in decades ! "But I do agree that Pean was and remains an opportunist with an axe to grind against the Gaullists and apoligist for the Communists." are you sure that you speak of the right person ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_P%C3%A9an doesn't look like that Pierre Pean was supporting one side, (or was supported by one side)

Joe Noory on :

As much as you would like to make it so, the United States (all 300 million of us, in your mind I suppose,) had anything to do with causing Jerome Kerviel to do what he did. Your evasions are pathetic.

Marie Claude on :

uh, remember, the US stock exchanges doomed in May black thursday ? not a hazard ! I return you the pathetic compliment

Pat Patterson on :

Nobody even know today what caused the sell off in that May? My point initially was the double standard that I see in Europe regarding America that scandals only happen here while the Europeans often think that they are above that sort of thing. Especially when dealing with a revanchist that simply throws 'facts' up in the air and then runs from having to actually defend them.

Marie Claude on :

"Especially when dealing with a revanchist that simply throws 'facts' up in the air and then runs from having to actually defend them." Boff, stop whining ! http://patdollard.com/2010/10/one-large-trader-caused-may-6-crash/

Pat Patterson on :

I can only assume that MC must have been extremely tired when she posted a video claiming one trade caused the sell-off during May as the comment shows how small that one trade was compared to the rest of the day. It's like throwing pennies on the floor in front of the poor and them not noticing the solid gold bars on the table. http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=168028

Marie Claude on :

but did it happen or not ?

Pat Patterson on :

Sure it happened but that's not the reason you posted from Pat Dollard. And as usual you don't address the comment made on his site which disproves your contention that one trade caused the problem. Do you ever actually answer a direct question in response to something you posted or merely change the subject to something equally outlandish?

Marie Claude on :

My point initially was the double standard that I see in America regarding Europe that WHATEVER only happen here while the Americans often think that they are above that sort of thing.

Pat Patterson on :

Then you really don't know anything about the US because our media was all over the American business scandals and problems. While Europe's are either ignored or end up on Page 3.

Marie Claude on :

if you are aware of your scandals we are aware of ours too, you're confounding the official message delivered by docile press, and you have the kind too (otherwise how would have been elected Obama) with all sort of papers that we find on the net today, in french, english... and believe me the UK press is dissert on us. Some people are still lazy and would look for the medias that fit their opinion. It isn't different for the Americans, je dirais même plus, that they are more categorical, and condamn all what isn't written if it'snt not by a guru of their own camp Thank-you very much, I know Americans for having had them as customers, for being regurlarely in contact with them since the beginning of the french fried !

Marie Claude on :

in case you would chicane again, I ment "freedom fried"

Pat Patterson on :

Rice at least twice made it clear that there was no condition but that she and GHWB had made it clear that this is what the US wanted not expected. Spiegel asked about self-determination and Rice replied, "No. If the Germans had come and said, "We don't want to be a part of NATO," I guess we would have had to accept that." I don't see the strong arming that Spiegel keeps coming back to at all. There seems to be a disconnect between what Spiegel claims and what Rice said actually occured. It might be wise to remember that by this time Scowcroft was not being relied on much after advising that the US not support Britain in any way in regards to the continued fallout from the Falklands. And not seeing the significance of the increased East German emigration flow which he argued was temporary and an internal piece of politics within the Warsaw Bloc.

Marie Claude on :

a view on the event from a well documented french journalist (in french), different from der Spiegel, at least it allows to remove certain remors uon what Thatcher might have said and or what Mitterrand might have said. In any case they wanted to preserve Gorbachev in Russia, they feared that a too fast reunification might have precipitated his fall, that extemists would have then taken power in Russia, and, thus, back to cold war with a new german border ! Also that Big Germany might feel too mighty, so they had to preserve a moderate Russian for counterbalancing the new EU equilibrium. http://globe.blogs.nouvelobs.com/archive/2009/11/04/mitterrand-et-la-reunification-allemande.html "Do you think he blackmailed Germany into agreeing to a common European currency" Not really, but Kohl gave him the opportunity for it, he could weight his agreement for the reunification (Mitterrand was one of our cleverer politicians) But Kolh wasn't someone that could easily be unclothed, he preserved the german "stability" objective for the new currency, he manage to have the ECB built in Germany, that the Maestrich agreement had a clause that he waanted absolutely : that no EU state would be hold responsible for another EU state if the latter would go bankrupted. uh, apparently it can't be reespected, cuz of the too big leverage of the german banks (and french's, to a lesser poin t, for better capitalised)otherwise, bye bye the euro ! Anyway happy birthday

Zyme on :

I found this piece of Spiegel to be quite enlightening. Up until now I had only assumed that Thatcher and Mitterand had some personal animosity against a united Germany. I had had no idea that there was such a huge resistance against the idea. It convinces me even more that we need to go things our way if we want to reach something. I am so happy that I never had to live in times of such a shame, when foreign nations preferred discussing our future without us.

Marie Claude on :

uh, but Germany isn't a moon country, what she decides affects the other countries too, and we know how terrific it can be ! (for Patterson: my words are picked purposely !)

Pat Patterson on :

Then perhaps a little more care should have been taken. Germany is described by Germans using the male gender, moon country makes no sense at all, and 'it' doesn't match the gender you used nor the one preferred by the Germans. And the use of the colon is a promise of a sequence of statements not a single statement. But at least you finally spelled my name correctly.

Marie Claude on :

Patterson, hey, put some vinegar and the fly get trapped ;-) you lost, in Germany, the moon is of male gender : "der Mond" after, your disgression is cloudy, can't see the (moon) light in it

Pat Patterson on :

You said, "...Germany isn't a moon country, she..." which is referring back to the subject of the sentence which is Germany. Moon country still makes no sense unless you are describing France as waning. Moon light shines on things not in them.

Marie Claude on :

"Moon country still makes no sense unless you are describing France as waning" why should it make sense for France too? anyway, as far as waning, it doesn't look like so since all the anglo-saxon medias are focusing on HER for whatever caugh SHE makes, besides SHE is more related to the sun, since Louis XIV ! "Moon light shines on things not in them" except for the ancients, whose calendar is based on moon reflexion, Judaism and Islam still care for the moon that shines inside things

Pat Patterson on :

Now you are just making things up as neither Judaism or Islam would say that the moon shines in things because that would be idolartory. The moon can only reflect light or God it cannot have an internal light. You use the term reflexion which is not in something but rather a surface that reflects an outside source of light to the eye. You simply need to check your usage before posting instead of always changing the subject or having to get the last word in.

Marie Claude on :

you definitly are impermeable to symbols and poetry Astronomy, astrology were appreciated by the elders, be them Jews, Muslims, Persians... isn't it odd that Mulims in Ramadan can fest at the moon rising ! these people have a more different appreciation of the moon than you can have see what your Thoreau said about moonlight: http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/13861/

Kevin Sampson on :

During Ramadan fast ends when it gets dark. Specifically when it becomes too dark to tell the difference between a white thread and a black thread. The time of the moons rising has nothing to do with it.

Marie Claude on :

ol right, but you only can see the moon when it's dark ! Nomads used to look at the night stars to find their route, in desert it's too hot to travel by day. Besides the "Moon God" was preexisting islam in Arabia, that's also where the "moon stone" in Mecca (Kaaba) is reverred. here some explanation about the "Moon God" http://webresistant.over-blog.com/article-18985223.html

Kevin Sampson on :

No, you can see the moon any time its above the horizon.

Pat Patterson on :

I suppose I expected too much that MC would ever admit she made a simple mistake between a reflection and something that glows from within. But a website article that has no sources, citations or footnotes as information on lunar worship is even worse than ususal.

Marie Claude on :

Patterson you surf on the waves, thanks to the moon ! imagine that, if you can !

Pat Patterson on :

It's real simple does the moon reflect or shine from within as you implied and then defended ad nauseum? BTW, waves come from the wind, while the tide affects the waves depending on the ocean bottom,

Marie Claude on :

ask Nabuchodonosor

Pat Patterson on :

Since he has been dead a few millenia that is difficult to attempt. And as usual another evasion. Does, as you wrote, the moon shine from within or from reflection?

Marie Claude on :

tu manques d'imagination and do I have to illustrate a obsesive attempt to get the argument ?

Pat Patterson on :

How about just clear up the syntax of your original comment concerning the moon. Does it reflect or create its own light?

Marie Claude on :

hey, you're trying to trap me http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/kfo/lowres/kfon20l.jpg

Pat Patterson on :

How about just clear up the syntax of your original comment concerning the moon. Does it reflect or create its own light?

Marie Claude on :

les deux mon Capitaine !

Zyme on :

It might affect others, yet this is even more reason to support unification to win friends. The final sentence of the article sums it up nicely. It describes the atmosphere where the 2+4 treaty has been signed: A room lacking any kind of ornament, no flowers, nothing. "After all, apart from the Germans nobody had anything to celebrate."

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
CAPTCHA

Form options