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Britain, Ost- and Deutschlandpolitik, and the CSCE (1955-1975)

Luca Ratti

Based on new and existing archival documentation, this book provides a detailed analysis of the British attitude to Bonn’s Eastern and inner-German policies during the period of détente and the CSCE. Each chapter analyses the evolution of British policy on a particular issue area, making detailed comparisons of British and West German archival sources and outlining the main aspects of the British view of West Germany’s relations with the Soviet bloc states and the German Democratic Republic. Drawing upon the archives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and of the West German foreign ministry, this book sheds new light on some of the more occult aspects of the British attitude to the German question and reveals the problems faced by British decision-makers in seeking to maintain Britain’s close ties with Bonn, while being hardly enthusiastic about the long-term prospect of German reunification. This volume addresses issues of East-West and Anglo-German relations, the role of NATO, and the debate among the Western allies on relations between the two German states during the period of détente.


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Introduction 15


15 Introduction The aim of this book is to provide an evaluation of the British attitude to the Ost- and Deutschlandpolitik of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the Soviet call for a European Security Conference (ESC) during the period of détente in Europe. More specifically, the book discusses the evolution of the British view of the Federal Republic’s policy towards the Soviet bloc states since the opening of diplomatic relations between Bonn and Moscow in September 1955, a few months following the Federal Republic’s adhesion to NATO and the establish- ment of the Warsaw Pact in May 1955, and the signing on 1 August 1975 of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki, which marked the peak of détente and of Willy Brandt’s Neue Ostpolitik and Deutschlandpolitik. The book ar- gues that since the early 1960s Britain saw the evolution of the German question and the calls for a European security conference as two issues in close connection. In the eyes of British decision-makers, the Soviet pro- posal for a European security conference was aimed in fact at solving a fundamental issue in East-West relations: designing a lasting solution for the German problem.1 During this period, Britain provided ‘firm 1 The proposal of an international conference on European security has its origins in the early 1950s when the Soviet Union first called for the creation of an all- European security conference. In 1954, at a meeting of Foreign...

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