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Ostpolitik


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Lim, Hyung Kyu
Term Paper, AP European History Class, May 2008



Table of Contents
I. West German international relationship before 1970s
II. The beginning of Ostpolitik : Moscow Treaty and Warsaw Treaty
III. The Four-Power Agreement
IV. The Basic Treaty
V. Ostpolitik after Brandt
VI. Conclusionj
VII. Notes
VIII. Bibliography



I. West German international relationship before 1970s
            Most of the West German international policies before Brandt were established during the era of Konrad Adenauer. West Germany (the FRG) did maintain trade relations with East Germany (the GDR), with both states considering the trade relation as internal trade rather than foreign (1). However, relations between the two German states soon deteriorated as the West German Länder accepted the Marshall Plan in 1948 and East Germany joined COMECON the following year in response. With the FRG joining NATO in 1955 and the establishment of the Warsaw Pact in 1955, joined by the GDR, the relations cooled down even more.
            When the Soviet Union had given the GDR (German Democratic Republic: East Germany) full diplomatic recognition in 1954, FRG (Federal Republic of Germany: West Germany) government insisted that it was the sole legitimate successor of the German Reich. Finally, the West German state announced that it would sever diplomatic relations with any state having diplomatic relations with the East German state. This Hallstein Doctrine, named after Adenauer's foreign policy advisor Walter Hallstein, was applied to all countries except for the Soviet Union itself. Since the Warsaw Pact states and the People's Republic of China had recognized the East Germany, the West German government refrained from establishing diplomatic relations with those countries. In fact, it had detrimental effects on West German policy toward Eastern Europe by limiting its own diplomatic maneuvering room.
            Another incident which worsened West German - Eastern European relationship was the Berlin crisis in 1958. As West Germany became integrated into the Western alliance, Russians tried to maintain their influence on all-German affairs. In 1952, Stalin suggested a plan for establishing an all-German government. While the united Germany would have complete economic autonomy, the right to build military force and full membership in the United Nations, it would have to give up the lands east of the Oder-Neisse line and be unable to join any military alliance. However, Adenauer and his Western alliance continued to reject Russian initiatives, and Russians began to run out of patience. In 1958, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev insisted the Western powers to leave Berlin, and demanded that Berlin become a demilitarized city. Despite Khrushchev's threat to annex the city by force, the West rejected the ultimatum. The Berlin crisis continued for three years, and the Soviet Union finally gave in its initiative when it handed over the administration of East Berlin to the East German government. With increasing number of escapees to the West side, the East German government began the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Hostile relationship with the East continued until Willi Brandt became the chancellor in 1969.

II. The beginning of Ostpolitik : Moscow Treaty and Warsaw Treaty
            Before Willi Brandt, the West German government tried to deal with Eastern Europe without recognizing East Germany or giving up claims to the lands east of the Oder-Neisse line. In response, East German leader Walter Ulbricht (2) responded by keeping the Warsaw Pact nations from having relationship with West Germany. Brandt's policy was to change this unfavorable situation. In his declaration of the policy, he expressed the wish to prevent a further growing apart between the two German Republics, so that "regulated neighborliness" could operate. He insisted that if there were two German states, their relationship must be that of a special kind, as was the case between members of the British Commonwealth. Moscow soon accepted the offer to negotiate an undertaking that neither the West Germany nor the Soviet Union would attack one another. Warsaw, meanwhile, had agreed to talk on Polish-West German relations. Both sets of negotiations started early in 1970. However disturbing was Ulbricht, who continuously inspired his people with the idea of dangerous neighbor. East Germany insisted that West Germany accept East Germany as a foreign state in its international law, and ultimately demanded it to leave NATO and EEC. It was impossible for Brandt to accept, and meetings between two states ended without any solution.
            However, unlike the grumpy East German government, the Kremlin was willing to have better relations with the West. The first product of the Ostpolitik was the Moscow Treaty signed by Brandt and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin in 1970. Both states agreed to abandon the use of force in their relations with each other, and also agreed to recognize the border of all European states including that of the Oder-Neisse line. It also included the statement that the treaty never contradicted the West Germany's pursuit of German unification by means of peaceful self-determination. West Germany was authorized to tell the United States, Britain and France that the Treaty did not affect the rights and responsibilities in Germany, particularly in Berlin, of the four occupying powers. Finally the Russians recognized that the Treaty's ratification would depend on a Four-Power Agreement being reached about Berlin. In fact the Russians were attracted by the prospect of easier access to German credits, industrial skills and equipment, and Ulbricht's successor, Erich Honecker, was unable to resist Moscow's strong will. (3)
            After the Moscow Treaty, Brandt went to Poland and signed the Treaty of Warsaw. West Germany and Poland recognized the Oder-Neisse line as the western border of Poland, and both relinquished all claims against each other as well as the use of force and agreed to the exchange of ambassadors. When Brandt visited the Warsaw Ghetto after signing the treaty, he knelt on the monument honoring the Jews sacrificed. Many people saw this act as a recognition of the many lives lost under Nazi rule.

III. The Four-Power Agreement
            In 1971, the four powers signed an agreement in Berlin. Here, the ambassadors agreed on three points; unimpeded movement between West Berlin and West Germany for West Berliners and West Germans as well as for Americans, British and French; the extension to West Berliners of the facilities allowing West Germans to visit East Germany; recognition by the East of the fact that West Berlin was tied to West Germany. (4) However, they also clarified that West Berlin was not a part of West Germany, and that the city would be continuously governed by the three powers rather than the West German government.

IV. The Basic Treaty
            The most significant product of the Ostpolitik was the Basic Treaty of 1972. Both states agreed on :

      1. To develop good relationships with one another on the basis of equal rights
      2. To solve their disagreements only by peaceful means
      3. That present frontiers were inviolable both now and in the future
      4. That neither would interfere in the affairs of the other.

            They affirmed the sovereign equality of all states, respect for independence, autonomy and territorial integrity, the right of self determination, the protection of human rights and nondiscrimination. They would proceed on the assumption that neither of the two states could represent the other internationally nor act in its name. They undertook to conclude further detailed agreements on such matters as science, traffic, postal communications, health, sports and environmental protection. The exchange of permanent representatives was also provided. Both sides agreed to apply for membership of the United Nations.
            This treaty basically ended the Hallstein Doctrine which did not accept the legitimacy of the East German government. There was no barrier remaining for West German government in having relations with Eastern European countries. In 1973, West Germany established diplomatic relations with Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Finland and Hungary. It also joined the United Nations along with East Germany, and both German states exchanged diplomats in 1974. (5)

V. Ostpolitik after Brandt
            In April 1974, it was revealed that Brandt's personal secretary, Guenther Guillaume, was an East German spy. Brandt resigned the chancellorship, and the Bundestag elected Helmut Schmidt as Brandt's successor. Even after Brand resigned, Ostpolitik remained as West Germany's major diplomatic policy toward East Germany and other Eastern nations. Although Schmidt did not make many advances in relations with East Germany, he successfully maintained the basis of Ostpolitik. Even after Helmut Kohl, head of the opposition CDU, was elected chancellor in 1982, he continued the Ostpolitik until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

VI. Conclusion
            Willy Brandt made a dramatic change in Western-Eastern German relationship through the policy of Ostpolitik. Before him, West German attitude toward the East Germany was represented by the Hallstein Doctrine, which did not recognized East Germany or the countries having diplomatic relations with East Germany. The Basic Treaty of 1972 changed this principle and allowed the West Germany to establish diplomatic relationships with Eastern European countries. With this change, West Germany ultimately gained a chance to take active diplomatic role in Eastern Europe.
            German Ostpolitik marked the beginning of the loosening tensions between the East and West, an atmosphere called detente. In that time, as a result of intense nuclear arms race, Soviet economic burden became unsustainably large, and the Soviet leadership considered Brandt's policy as a chance to decrease its burden; they thought it will help increase trade with the West, along with potential detachment of Western European countries from their American ally. While accepting Ostpolitik, The Soviet Union also felt threatened by possible Sino-American alliance, and became more active in relieving tensions of the Cold War. With this attitude change of the Soviet Union, the worldwide mood of detente became possible.
            Beginning from the era of Ostpolitik, both German states began to interact actively, and for West Germany it became possible to take a rather active role in Eastern Europe. Even after Brandt¡¯s resignation, his successors maintained the basis of Ostpolitik. Indeed, West Germany's continuing maintenance of the policy ultimately led to the successful unification of two states.


VII. Notes
           
(1)      Turk 1999 p.151: East Germany purchased machinery, electrical supplies and chemicals while West Germany purchased textiles, clothing, agricultural and wood products, lumber and minerals
(2)      after G. Rempel. This last-surviving Stalinist had (Ulbricht) long been holding together the inhabitants of his Republic by presenting them with a picture of an unregenerate, revengeful and dangerous next-door neighbor.
(3)      after G. Rempel. Ulbricht's successor, Erich Honecker, was to prove almost as obdurate, but at the outset was too insecure to frustrate Moscow's wishes
(4)      after G. Rempel. These agreements were known as three 'Z's: Zugang, Zutritt, Zuordnung
(5)      Turk 1999 p.158: 1974 diplomat exchange was not at ambassadorial level.

Bibliography Note : websites quoted below were visited in May 2008.
1.      Turk, Eleanor L., The History of Germany, Westport CT : Greenwood 1999
2.      Konrad H. Jarausch, Uniting Germany - Documents and Debates, 1944-1993, Berghahn 1994
3.      Mary Fulbrook, A Concise History of Germany, Cambridge : Cambridge Univ. Press 1991
4.      Bideleux, Jeffries, A History of Eastern Europe, London : Routledge 1998
5.      Kitchen, Cambridge Illustrated History : Germany, Cambridge : UP 1996
6.      Viault, Bernard S., Modern European History, 1990
7.      Willi Brandt biography : The Ostpolitik policy, from Age of the Sage
8.      Willi Brandt, by Rempel, Gerhard, Western New England College
9.      Article : Ostpolitik, from Wikipedia, 11 February 2008, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostpolitik
10.      Article : Willy Brandt, from Wikipedia, 1 May 2008, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willy_Brandt



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