Germany Unified and Europe Transformed

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1997-04-25
  • Publisher: Harvard Univ Pr

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Officials mingled in the lobby of the Oktyabrskaia Hotel--shaking hands, sipping champagne, signing their names--and Germany was united. In this undramatic fashion, the international community closed the book on the drama of divided Germany. But nothing so momentous could be quite so quiet and uncomplicated, as this volume makes strikingly clear. This is the first book to go behind the scenes through access to still not opened archives in many countries. Germany Unified and Europe Transformed discloses the moves and maneuvers that ended the Cold War division of Europe.Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, who served in the White House during these years, have combed a vast number of documents and other sources in German and Russian as well as English. They also interviewed the major actors in the drama--George Bush, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Eduard Shevardnadze, James Baker, Anatoly Chernyayev, Brent Scowcroft, Horst Teltschik, and many others. Their firsthand accounts merge to create a complete, detailed, and powerfully immediate picture of what happened. The book takes us into Gorbachev's world, illuminating why the Soviet leader set such cataclysmic forces in motion in the late 1980s and how these forces outstripped his plans. We follow the tense debates between Soviet and East German officials over whether to crush the first wave of German protesters--and learn that the opening of the Berlin Wall was in fact one of the greatest bureaucratic blunders in human history. The narrative then reveals the battle for the future of East Germany as it took shape between West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the reform Communist leader, Hans Modrow--East Germany's "little Gorbachev." Zelikow and Rice show how Kohl and George Bush held off the reactions of governments throughout Europe so that Kohl could awaken East Germans to the possibility of reunification on his terms. Then the battle over the future of the NATO alliance began in earnest.The drama that would change the face of Europe took place largely backstage, and this book lets us in on the strategies and negotiations, the nerve-racking risks, last-minute decisions, and deep deliberations that brought it off. It is the most authoritative depiction of contemporary statecraft to appear in decades.

Table of Contents

Key Players
Introduction: Solving the German Problem When Did the Cold War End?
Revisiting the German Question
The Fall of Ostpolitik and the Berlin Wall
The Goal Becomes Unification
The Process Becomes the Two Plus Four
The Design for a New Germany
Friendly Persuasion
The Final Offer
Germany Regains Its Sovereignty Epilogue: Germany Unified and Europe Transformed
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.



"For decades a thick closed blanket of clouds obscured the star of German unity," Germany's former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher recalled. "Then for a short time the blanket of clouds parted, allowed the star to become visible, and we grabbed for it." "Grabbed" is a good word for what happened. It captures the sense of a frantic lunge in 1989 and 1990, what the British scholar Timothy Garton Ash has called a "hurtling and hurling together, sanctioned by great-power negotiations." It was, he wrote, a time when "more happened in ten months than usually does in ten years."

Opinions may vary about the result. A renowned German commentator has called the outcome "the greatest triumph of diplomacy in the postwar era." A former Soviet foreign minister has called it "one of the most hated developments in the history of Soviet foreign policy and it will remain so for decades." Although now the outcome may seem almost preordained, those closest to the events--whether former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze or political figures from East and West Germany--still marvel that this tumult did not lead to a "bloodbath," a war, or at least a new phase of cold war.

The main purpose of this book is to tell the story of this extraordinary episode in modern diplomacy. This is, above all, a diplomatic history. Both authors were involved in the events as members of President George Bush's National Security Council staff: Philip Zelikow was a career diplomat detailed to the White House; Condoleezza Rice was on leave from her professorship at Stanford University. The book originated as an internal historical study which a senior State Department official, Robert Zoellick, invited Zelikow to write as he was leaving the government to accept a faculty appointment at Harvard University. After securing promises of unlimited access to all relevant documents at both the State Department and the White House, as well as access to relevant intelligence documents, Zelikow agreed and began work But as the project took shape, it became dear that the story could not be told properly just from the perspective of the United States.

Historians have rightly criticized works that dwell too much on the perspective of one or another country, neglecting what others were doing or thinking, forgetting that diplomacy is really the interplay of several different sets of beliefs and actions. None of the many books published so far on German unification has tried, for example, to tell the German story and the Soviet story and the American story, and then study how they interacted to produce the results all could see. That is the task we set for ourselves.

To do this we complemented research in the American archives with a careful study of all materials available in German and Russian. We consulted papers that became available from the East German state archives and some significant archival materials available for the Soviet Union, including papers prepared for meetings of the Politburo and policy guidance prepared for Shevardnadze. We also talked to key decision makers in a number of countries; some of them commented on our draft, and we have constantly cross-checked recollections and published accounts against the available documentary evidence.

We made another decision about this book: we have cited all of our sources. It is not unusual for former officials to consult government records in preparing an account of their experiences, but it is unprecedented for them to cite these records just as a professional historian would. Most of the American records we have cited remain classified and unavailable to the public. We were able to cite them because the citations themselves revealed no secrets. Yet, with these American records, we faced a dilemma. Scholars will not be able to check some of our uses of still-classified government documents. They must, for a time, take on faith that we have used our evidence properly. This is a fair and appropriate concern. But the other side of the dilemma is that by failing to include any citations, we would have frustrated still more scholars who would never know what sources we had used. We decided that this latter concern was more important, for several reasons.

A surprisingly large proportion of our assertions can be checked, directly or indirectly, against published accounts and unclassified documents. This point should be apparent from a careful look at our citations. Also, our notes can convey our inside understanding of what the documents mean, who prepared them, which ones mattered and which did not. Furthermore, problems of privileged access to source material are not unique to former government officials. Often papers or materials held by private persons are available only to certain people or with special restrictions. Here we were fortunate in being able to use documents that belong to the American people and will eventually be made available to the public. So we have cited our sources as carefully as possible. Although the American archival material is not yet catalogued in the Bush Library or the National Archives, the citations are complete enough to enable scholars to find the cited documents once the cataloguing is done. Finally, at our request, the National Security Archive has also filed a massive request under the Freedom of Information Act to expedite the declassification of as much material as possible. The archive will make this material available to scholars. All material that can be declassified, including unclassified but hard-to-obtain public affairs material (transcripts of State Department press briefings, for example), will also join the collections of papers scrupulously maintained by the Archival Library of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

This book is a joint effort. Zelikow drafted the original manuscript. As that manuscript was being accepted for publication, Rice drafted the portrait of Soviet thinking that dominates Chapter 1 and the epilogue. She then refashioned the analysis in Chapters 2, 3, and 4, reshaping the narrative and adding material. The authors then together revised and finalized the manuscript, continuing to add new sources as they became available. Zelikow handled research in the American archives and those materials, whatever their origin, published in German. Rice was responsible for the Soviet archival research as well as other materials in the Russian language.

We were involved in the events we describe. We had, and still have, opinions about them. This is natural; indeed, even scholars who experience events vicariously can become just as opinionated about them. As former officials we were also obliged by law to let the government make sure we had not abused our special knowledge to reveal secrets that are still important to the security of the United States. (This was not a problem.) But from the start we have been absolutely free to tell the story any way we chose. No one, on any occasion, has even attempted to tilt or shape our story, except in telling us his or her side of it.

We think this episode was a historic success for the United States and for the Federal Republic of Germany. One could argue that the amicable settlement of the partition of Germany was a farsighted choice for the Soviet Union as well. Some readers will not agree with these conclusions and may doubt the wisdom of many choices that were made. We tried to write this book in a way that would arm any side of this historical debate by laying out the narrative in detail, establishing the arguments as weighed by different officials in the various governments, and exposing to public view the crucial choices and some of the beliefs underlying them. In fact, though we think the net judgment is resoundingly positive, we believe that almost all American (and West German) officials, ourselves most definitely included, made mistakes at one time or another. But we do not spend much time saying who we think was wise or who was not. We usually try to leave it to the reader to supply these judgments.

In preparing this book we have received help and advice from many quarters. For financial support in performing some of the research, we are grateful to the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Harvard University's Program for the Study of Germany and Europe, and Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control. We are also indebted to the former officials who agreed to share their experiences from this period. They are listed throughout the notes. We are also especially thankful for the encouragement and advice we received at key points from Robert Zoellick, Robert Blackwill, Coit Blacker, and Ernest May. The research and production of this book was aided by Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control and the talents of Yvonne Brown, Brian Davenport, Kiron Skinner, John Fowler, Chris Fleishner, Artur Khachikian, Elizabeth Ewing, Matthew Bencke, and Deborah Schneider. We have received many useful comments from the scholars who reviewed the manuscript anonymously for Harvard University Press, and from Alexander Abashkiri, Donald Abenheim, Hannes Adomeit, Alexandra Bezymenskaia, Maxim Bratersky, Gerhard Casper, Gordon Craig, David Holloway, Karl Kaiser, Felix Philipp Lutz, Elizabeth Pond, Alfred Rubin, W. R. Smyser, Marc Trachtenberg, and Peter Wagner. We also wish to acknowledge the encouragement and support of our editor, Aida Donald, and the patience and creativity of our copy editor, Amanda Heller.

Copyright © 1995 the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.

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