However hard the relations between Germany and the Soviet Union during the Ostpolitik have been discussed, there are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered. In spite of the fact that Germany and the Soviet Union had a certain scheme that could make their collaboration fruitful and profitable for each of the parties, it ended just as suddenly as it had started. There must be some light shed on the situation.
The idea that underlay the politics of Germany was the fact that the economical state of the both countries left much to be desired, and they were tending to reach the European level without going into big expenditures.
The core idea of the Ostpolitik was implemented in the motto “Change through Rapprochement Policy”. This meant that Germany and Soviet Union were trying to come into closer contact with each other and intertwine the policies, sharing the economical experience and trying to recover together.
The man to introduce the very idea of the new policy was Willy Brandt, one of the most influential men in Germany of all times. He suggested the new concept in 1963 and went on with the experiment to bridge the two great countries.
The basic idea was about connecting the two parts of Germany that were set apart, Willy Brandt saw it as the first reason for Germany to be pushed far behind in its development, and, trying to improve the state’s condition, he searched for every method possible for the country to get united again, which would create the profound basis for its further economical and political development.
When the idea took certain shapes and the process of creating links with the Soviet Union was launched, Egon Bahr, the man who conducted the whole procedure and was in charge of the changes that took place during the negotiations, made it possible for the idea to be put into practice.
Signing the agreement with Moscow was an important step, and Willy Brandt knew it perfectly well; as a chancellor, he made every possible move be directed to connecting the two parts of the country.
Was it the collaboration with the Soviet Union that he had been searching for? The answer would be probably yes, but the first thing he was to do was to destroy the wall between the Eastern and the Western parts of Germany, both metaphorically and literally.
There were a lot of people in Germany against collaboration with Russia, among them Konrad Adenauer. He expressed his doubts about the reasonability of the project and unwillingness to contribute to the new politics in the open, but the chancellor was determined to act in this very course. And finally the general admitted that it was only the union of two great states that could improve the situation in Germany.
Germany laid a lot of hopes on the future relationships with the Soviet Union. As Spaulding explained,
Politicized trade played a central role in the new Ostpolitik of Chancellor Willy Brandt and the Social Democrats. Steadily improving trade relations played an important part in the “policy of small steps” that aimed ultimately at change through rapprochement“ with the East.
Europe took this alliance as something out of the ordinary.
Their emotions were rather easy to understand. Indeed, creating a common workplace that would grow into trusted relationships and further on perhaps into the collaboration and partnership of the two most powerful states of those times was something to worry about. The European states, together with all their separation from each other and their policies never bespoken in the open, could not oppose the tremendously strong empire these two could turn into one day.
That is why the fact of signing the treaty in the Soviet Union by Konrad Adenauer was taken with indignation by whole wide Europe. The states had the idea that the persistence of the communist moods in the Soviet Union might lead to its ideas spreading all over Europe and finally seizing the power.
As he returned from Moscow, whole Europe was talking about his ways of an owner which were more than noticeable as he was signing the agreement. The US ambassador in the Soviet Union, C. Bolen, compared him to Chamberlain signing the defeatist contract with Hitler and Mussolini. That was already reeking of an international scandal.
The Soviet Union expected that this would contribute to its might, too. In fact, the Ostpolitik did. It made the Soviet Union stronger in terms of its economical power. In addition, it also drove the political powers of the country to think of establishing the ideas of democracy in the country.
Normalizing the relationships with Germany and acquiring the knowledge about the Western idea of a state, USSR took the new model of development with curiosity. That could mean a turn-up in the plot and a new page in the history of Russia and the Eastern Europe.
However, this all ended just as unexpectedly as it had started.
In spite of the worries of the neighboring countries, the states did not go further than they have planned. Both Brandt and Stalin did not go any further than it had been planned. They both understood perfectly well that the two states could not work together on the parities, and it was impossible to continue the further work.
The great idea collapsed.
The whole plot being a wonderful idea that was set brilliantly did not work as the two states of the same power collided. They knew that in case they would not agree upon some subject, there would be another was. At that time, neither could afford such costs, since they both were trying to heal the wounds caused by the previous conflict.
As Pittman emphasized,
It may be that the Soviet reluctance to respond to West German appeals to increase the number ox exit permits was due to the general deterioration of détente and also to Soviet disappointment in material benefits (economic) expected from the FRG-Soviet relations.
However, it influenced the union of the two parts of Germany in 1990, this is the fact that cannot be denied. Indeed, the traces that people’s actions leave drag the most unexpected consequences.
Ash, T. G. In Europe’s Name: Germany and the Divided Continent. New York, NY: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010. Print.
Pittman, A. From Ostpolitik to Unification: West German-Soviet Political Relations Since 1974. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2002. Print.
Spaulding, R. M. Osthandel and Ostpolitik: German Foreign Trade Policies in Eastern Europe from Bismarck to Adenauer. Oxford: Berghahn Books. 1997. Print.
- Ash, T. G. In Europe’s Name: Germany and the Divided Continent. (New York, NY: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010).
- Spaulding, R. M. Osthandel and Ostpolitik: German Foreign Trade policies in Eastern Europe from Bismark to Adenauer. (Oxford: Berghahn Books 1997). 489
- Pittman, A. From Ostpolitik to Unification: West German-Soviet Political Relations Since 1974. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 30