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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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Chapter 1 - Britain and the early stages of Ostpolitik (1955–1968) 23


23 Chapter 1 Britain and the early stages of Ostpolitik (1955–1968) 1.1 Introduction The aim of this chapter is to discuss the British view of the German question during the early stages of Ostpolitik and, more specifically, in the period between the opening of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1955, following the visit of Konrad Adenauer to Moscow – the first one by a West German chancellor to the Soviet capital – and his talks with the CPSU leadership, and the debate on the Federal Republic’s adhesion to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) in the aftermath of the in- tervention of Warsaw Pact’s forces in Prague in August 1968. The chap- ter will argue that, while Britain did not oppose in principle the Federal Republic’s early initiatives towards the Eastern European countries, Bri- tish decision-makers were rather sceptical of a policy which was per- ceived in London as being aimed at isolating the German Democratic Republic within the Soviet bloc rather than at promoting a real recon- ciliation with Germany’s eastern neighbours. In other words, between 1955 and 1968 the British position on relations between the Federal Republic and the Soviet bloc states remained that, as long as the West German political elite was not ready to accept the consequences of the loss of the war in Eastern Europe, renounce the Eastern territories of the former German Reich, and come to terms with the existence of a second German state, Bonn’s initiatives...

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