Relations with West Germany

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  • Relations with West Germany
    • Relations with the FRG
      • Willi Brandt became Chancellor of the FRG in 1969 and wanted a closer relationship with the GDR.
      • This became known as OSTPOLITIK. Before this the FRG under Adenauer, the post war chancellor, had not recognised the GDR.
      • He argued that only the FRG represented Germany on an international level, only communist countries recognised the GDR.
    • What reasons were there for Ostpolitik?
      • For western powers the division was a fact of life which needed to be accommodated
      • Brandt realised more could be gained through normalising relations with the GDR
      • They could not avoid close ties; they shared a common language, history and families.
    • How was Ostpolitik made possible?
      • 1969 a draft treaty was prepared including recognition of both countries and the entry of the GDR as a sovereign state in the United Nations.
      • In 1970 Brandt visited the GDR – nothing was decided but it was a big step forward.
      • Stoph, the East German Minister President visited the FRG in 1970.
      • The status of Berlin was formalised by the Four Power Treaty ofDecember 1971
      • May 1974 the two countries exchanged diplomats – formally recognising each other
      • Basic Treaty of June 1973 the two Germanies recognised the right of the others to exist. The FRG relinquished claim that only it could speak for Germany but it would still offer citizenship to those leaving the GDR.
    • What was the impact of Ostpolitik?
      • The GDR came economically more dependent on the FRG. By the 1980’sthe FRG was its main trading partner.
      • Currency from the FRG was free of interest payments and vital for repaying GDR debt.
      • In return the FRG demanded improved emigration, postal and telecommunication services.
      • Visits increased- they just been in emergencies and at Christmas but after the Basic Treaty over 2 million extra visits took pace for extended periods.
      • West Germans could visit the East though day-trippers had to returnby midnight.
      • It disadvantaged those who did not have western contacts as they did not have access to the latest consumer goods or foodstuffs in short supply in the GDR.
      • There was an increase in the sale of political prisoners – by 1989 the FRG had paid DM 3 billion to buy 34,000 prisoners.
    • The fall of Ulbricht
      • Ostpolitk was linked to Ulbricht and many were suspicious of close ties to the West.
      • Ulbricht wanted to control policy and negotiations with the West whereas the USSR saw the GDR as a satellite state which should follow orders and allow the USSR to represent them.
      • Honecker askedMoscow’s permission to remove Ulbricht he was given the green light in 1971.
      • Ulbricht resigned and was unmourned on his death in August 1973.
    • The GDR and FRG in the 1970s
      • The GDR began to limit its contact with the FRG after the Treaty of Friendship with the USSR.
      • The SED believed that greater contact with the West was weakening people’s loyalty to socialism. This led them to double the amount that Western visitors had to exchange into Ostmarks from 10 to 20.
      • The intention was to lower the amount of visitors. They now downplayed the common history and Honecker denied any possibility of reunification.
    • Demarcation
      • This limiting of contact was known as demarcation. This policy was not really happening in reality, the GDR had never been more reliant on the FRG; economically and in the eyes of the GDR citizens.
      • The GDR was also still making use of the currency exchange with FRG and benefiting from loans and credits.
      • Though the GDR seemed to be benefiting it was now becoming subservient to the FRG.
      • The SED felt that its very existence was being threatened by relations with the West however many citizens throughout the GDR thought the opposite appeared to be true.
      • Though events in the 1970’s threatened thestable relations between them;
        • In December 1979 NATO decided to place missiles in the FRG.
        • The USSR invaded Afghanistan
        • The USSR opposed the solidarity movement in Poland.
        • In January 1981 Reagan became President he was mightily anti-communist
    • States Visits
      • In December 1981 Chancellor Schmidt (West) visited the GDR and restated that they both anted peace and the reduction of weapons on both sides.
      • Some hardliners in the SED such as Stoph and Mielke worried that toclose relations with the FRG would push them away from the USSR, but the USSR was not concerned.
      • Schmidt invited Honecker to visit the FRG and the offer was repeated by Kohl in 1982 but by this point the USSR was becoming less sure.
      • High point of Ostpolitik and Honeckers’ career was his visit to the FRG from 7-11 September 1987.
      • He was given privileges awarded to the head ofstate he acted as an equal to Kohl the West German leader.
      • He was still very sure there would be no reunification; he said capitalism and communism were like fire and water.
      • Honecker was seen as an international statesman – however his plan backfired as many citizens of the GDR saw improved relations with the West as a sign that the Wall was no longer necessary.

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