History of Germany after Second World War!
The defeat of Germany in the World War II and her occupation by the Soviet Union and the Western Powers gave rise to complications in the field of European and international politics.
Those complications related to the problems of German unity and the future of Berlin.
- Problem of German Unity
- Views on German Unification
- The Berlin Problem
- First Berlin Crisis (1948-9)
- Second Berlin Crisis (1958)
- Third Berlin Crisis (1961)
- Fourth Berlin Crisis (1969)
- Berlin Agreement (1971)
1. Problem of German Unity:
It was decided at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 that Germany would be divided into four occupation zones as a temporary measure. The British zone lay in the North-West, the American in the South, the French in South-West and the Soviet zone extended from Oder-Neisse line to the Elbe.
Berlin was also divided into four zones among the Big Four. The Four-Power Allied Control Council was set up to make decisions for Germany as a whole. The Council was to follow a joint policy and the whole of Germany was to be treated as a single economic unit.
In January 1947, British and American zones were unified. In the same year, the French zone was merged into it. The three zones together came to be known as West Germany. The Western Powers introduced a currency reform in the three Western zones in June 1948 which proved extremely successful.
The Soviet Union protested and imposed a blockade on Berlin which became fully effective upon the introduction of the new currency into the Western sector of the city. The contention of the Soviet Union was that her action was intended to safeguard the currency of their own zone and by adopting the above-mentioned measures in their own zones the Western powers had forfeited the right to participate in the administration of Berlin which was a part of the Russian zone.
The Western Powers organised a massive airlift to send supplies to two million residents of West Berlin and kept open communication with West Berlin. The Berlin blockade lasted from June 1948 to September 1949. The Western powers earned the gratitude of the German people.
The representatives of the three Western powers met in Bonn and drafted a Federal Constitution for West Germany which came to be known as the Bonn Constitution. According to the new Constitution, elections were held to the Federal Parliament in August 1949 and Dr. Adenauer was elected as the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of West Germany.
The German Federal Republic became a member of the O.P.E.C. in 1949 and of the Council of Europe in 1951. She became one of the three major partners of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952. She also joined the European Economic Community. On 16 May 1952, the United States, Great Britain and France concluded peace agreements with West Germany in Bonn.
Nearly complete independence was restored to West Germany. Protocols signed in Paris on 28 October 1954 by West Germany and 14 other Western nations gave West Germany virtual sovereignty and opened the way for it to enter NATO and the Brussels Treaty Organisation (Western European Union).
West Germany became officially independent on 5 May, 1955 and progressed both politically and economically. She rebuilt her shattered cities as well as industries and became a leading exporter of finished industrial products in the world market.
The Soviet Union set up on 7 October 1949 a Provisional Peoples’ Chamber and declared the German Democratic Republic with Otto Grotewohl as Prime Minister. Thus, there were two Germanies. The G.D.R. (German Democratic Republic) became progressively Stalinized. It concluded treaties of friendship with other nations in Eastern Europe belonging to the Soviet Sphere. She also entered into a treaty with Poland and fixed Poland’s boundary on the Oder-Niesse line.
The German Democratic Republic set up a zone along her 600-mile border with West Germany. Berlin’s telephone system was separated into two sections. The Soviet Union proclaimed Eastern Germany as a sovereign state on 26 March 1954 and declared that Soviet troops would remain temporarily in connection with the security and the Potsdam agreement.
The Foreign Ministers of the Big Four Powers met at Berlin from 25 January to 18 February 1954 and discussed the problem of the unification of Germany. The Western Powers proposed reunification through the process of free elections and freedom for the new and unified state to join one bloc or the other. Molotov, the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, proposed that a provisional all-German Government should be formed from the two existing zones to frame a constitution.
The new Government should negotiate a peace treaty but must not join any alliance in the Cold War. The Western powers knew full well that free elections would lead to a United Germany aligned to the West and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The Russians also knew that Germany would choose the policies of Federal Republic.
On 5 May 1955, the Western powers terminated their 10-year old occupation of West Germany. The Soviet Union also restored sovereignty to East Germany and got her associated with the Warsaw Treaty Organisation. West Germany joined the O.P.E.C. East Germany became associated with COMECON.
2. Views on German Unification:
The view of the Western Powers was that the German problem should be settled on the basis of the right of self-determination. They wanted free elections to be held in the whole of Germany and the new state was to conclude a peace treaty. East Germany was not to be recognised as that might perpetuate the partition of Germany. West Germany claimed that she was the sole successor of the old German state. She opposed the neutralisation of Germany.
The Soviet view was that the peace treaty should be concluded with both the German states separately. Her contention was that the question of peace treaty was different from the issue of recognition. If the Soviet Union could recognise West Germany, there was no reason why the Western powers could not recognise East Germany. As the whole of Berlin lies in the territorial limits of East Germany, the Western powers had no right to have their presence in Berlin.
As Germany surrendered under pressure from Soviet forces, the Soviet Union alone had the right to keep her forces in Berlin. Objection was raised to the military bases in West Berlin. The Soviet Union wanted Germany’s neutrality as the price of German unification. She was not prepared to accept a rearmed Germany aligned with the West.
The German question came up for discussion when the Big Four Foreign Ministers met at Berlin but nothing came out of it. Another attempt at unification was made in July 1955 at the Summit Conference of Big Four at Geneva but again nothing came out of it. A ministerial level meeting was held at Geneva from 27 October to 16 November 1955.
The West again took its stand upon uniting Germany through free all-German elections if there could concurrently be established a European Security Pact. The Russians proposed a European collective security treaty which was to replace the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the West European Union and the Warsaw Treaty Organisation. The two German Governments should join the treaty and establish an all-German Council composed of representatives of both. There was a deadlock.
On 8 September 1955, Chancellor Adenauer visited Moscow and pleaded for the release of German prisoners of war and Russian cooperation in achieving the unification of Germany. West Germany declared in December 1955 that she would break off diplomatic relations with those states which recognised the Government of Eastern Germany. This came to be known as the Hallstein Doctrine. It was named after Walter Hallstein of the Bonn Foreign Office.
The object of this doctrine was to boycott the German Democratic Republic in the international arena and prevent its consolidation. Sanctions were directed against those states which set up normal relations with the German Democratic Republic. At first, the Bonn Government used this policy only in the area of diplomatic relations but later on it was extended to trade and cultural relations.
The Bonn Government claimed that it was the successor to the German Reich and its sole successor. It was supported by Britain, the United States and France. The view of the Soviet Union was that there were two Germanics with equal status and she exchanged Ambassadors with both West Germany and East Germany.
When the United States decided to supply nuclear weapons to NATO forces, the Soviet Union warned West Germany not to keep them in her territory. The prospects of nuclear arms at NATO bases led Poland to suggest a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe. The Soviet Union suggested another Summit Conference but Dulles was not ready for it unless the Soviet Union accepted Western terms.
On 10 November 1958, Khrushchev stated that the imperialists wanted to make Germany a chronic problem and were disturbing the peace of German Democratic Republic, Poland and the socialist states. He warned any march towards East Germany would mean disaster for West Germany. If West Germany really wanted unification, she would have talked with East Germany.
Any settlement could be on the basis of liquidation of Fascism, German militarism and demilitarisation. Likewise, the problem of Berlin could be discussed by West and East Germany. Khrushchev handed over notes to the Western Powers requesting them to withdraw from West Berlin within six months.
He offered West Berlin the status of a free city. He cancelled the agreement of the Soviet Union with the United States and Britain of 12 September 1944 (delineating zones of occupation of Germany and providing for joint administration of Berlin) and the agreement of 1 May 1945 between the Big Three and France establishing the control machinery for the occupation of Germany and Berlin. He also declared his intention to hand over to East Germany the functions hitherto performed by the Soviet authorities.
In reply, the West German Government issued a statement to the effect that if the Soviet Union unilaterally renounced the international treaties concluded by the Four Powers regarding Berlin, political tension in Europe would increase, Soviet-German relations would deteriorate and Soviet Russia would be accused of violating international law.
While the Western Powers were determined to defend their rights, they were also ready to negotiate. The Soviet Union proposed a draft treaty which provided that Germany was to accept the frontiers of 1 January 1959, recognise Austrian neutrality and renounce Sudetenland. Other articles prohibited the Nazi party, militarization and propaganda against peace. The Western powers did not accept the draft treaty and suggested a meeting of Foreign Ministers.
The Foreign Ministers of the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France met at a Conference in Geneva on 11 May 1959 on the issues of reunification of Germany and the fixture of Berlin. On behalf of the Western Powers, Herter placed before the Conference a plan for the settlement of all the problems. That plan is known as the Western Peace Plan. It provided for the unification of Germany by accomplishing the reunification of Berlin through free elections as the first step towards German Unity.
The Four powers were to guarantee the independence of united Berlin. A commission of 35 representatives (25 from West Germany and 10 from East Germany) was to prepare the electoral laws on the basis of which a legislative assembly for the whole of Germany was to be elected. The United German Government was to enjoy the full right of joining either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. Peace treaty would be concluded with the all-German Government.
On 25 May 1959, Gromyko, the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, produced a counter proposal which provided that separate peace treaties were to be concluded with both the German states and the task of German reunification was to be left to them. West Berlin was to remain independent and free from foreign armies until the reunification of Germany. The NATO members were to withdraw their forces from Germany and dismantle their military base. The Soviet Union was also to remove her armies from Germany, Poland and Hungary.
Both Herter and Gromyko rejected each other’s peace proposals. Gromyko then placed before the Conference fresh proposals which provided that within one year the Western Powers should agree to the abolition of the occupation regime in West Berlin, to reduce the number of their armies in Germany and refrain from engaging themselves in any kind of hostile activity or propaganda against East Germany.
The Western Powers rejected that proposal also. On 20 June 1959, the Western Foreign Ministers proposed a Four-Power treaty which would guarantee the West unrestricted access to West Berlin. Gromyko refused to accept the proposal. There was a deadlock and thus the Conference ended.
In September 1959, Khrushchev met President Eisenhower at Camp David and agreed to resume talks on the Berlin question at the proposed Summit Conference in May 1960 in Paris. However, on account of U-2 incident, Khrushchev decided to boycott the Summit.
On 25 April 1960, Khrushchev warned the Western powers that in case they refused to sign a peace treaty with East Germany, their right of access to West Berlin would cease and the Soviet Union would conclude a peace treaty with East Germany unilaterally. He also declared that as the city of Berlin was situated within East Germany, with the signing of the peace treaty with East Germany, the sovereign right of the latter would be established upon the whole of East Germany.
The Western powers protested and argued that they had a right over West Berlin as a result of conquest of Germany and not as a concession from the Soviet Union. Moreover, the Soviet Union could not revoke unilaterally all the treaties concluded earlier with regard to Germany and Berlin. Khrushchev met President Kennedy at Vienna in June 1961 and on 21 June; he declared that Camp David formula was dead.
On 11 August 1961, the Soviet Union announced protective measures to check West German subversive acts in East Berlin. On 12 August 1961, the Government of East Germany introduced permit system for East Germans who went to West Berlin. On the morning of 13 August, the Government of East Germany sealed East Berlin borders with West Berlin. In the next few days, cement and concrete walls were erected.
Thus the Berlin Wall came into existence. The United States ordered the calling up of 76,500 reserves and there was great tension. After long negotiations, the Pass Agreement was signed on 17 September 1963 which allowed Berliners of the two sides to meet one another.
In 1970, the coalition Government of West Germany led by Chancellor Willy Brandt inaugurated a new approach towards East Germany known as Ostpolitik. He wanted to start new relations with East Germany and agreed to the idea of two German states in one German nation. The result was that on 12 August 1970 was signed the Non-Aggression Treaty between Moscow and Bonn.
The treaty recognised the Post-War map of Central Europe. It recognised status quo in Eastern Europe. Both West Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to recognise the Post-War frontiers of Poland, Czechoslovakia and the frontier between East and West Germany. They agreed not to challenge those frontiers in the future.
They agreed to support the entry of the two German states into the United Nations. The treaty enabled West Germany to establish diplomatic and cultural relations with the East European countries and went a long way to lessen the East-West tension.
On 8 November, 1972, the representatives of East and West Germany met in Bonn and signed a treaty concerning the relations on a formal basis. The two states agreed to recognise the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each other and accepted the right of self-determination. Both claimed to be admitted to the United Nations.
The treaty pledged normal, good neighbourly relations, sovereign equality, promotion of European security and cooperation in economic, social and scientific exchanges. Bonn renounced the Hallstein Doctrine without abandoning the notion of a common nationhood, with East Germany as second German state within German territory.
This treaty, also known as the Basic Treaty, made it possible for the two German states to be admitted to the United Nations as members in September 1973. The admission of two Germanics to the United Nations was the result of a series of treaties signed between West Germany and Poland, West Germany and the Soviet Union, East Germany and West Germany and the Soviet Union, France, Britain and the United States in regard to Germany.
The admission of two Germanics as sovereign and equal states marked the end of the Cold War and the new territorial arrangements following the defeat of Germany in 1945. However, the dream of German unity does not appear to be in sight even in the distant future. It seems that two German states have come to stay. Each German Government is interested in perpetuating the Post-War division of Germany.
3. The Berlin Problem:
Geographically, the city of Berlin is situated within the territory of East Germany. It is inside East German territory, 100 miles away from the frontiers of West Germany. The story of the Post-War arrangements on Berlin began in October 1943 when the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union met in Moscow and agreed in principle on joint responsibility for and joint occupation of defeated-Germany. They established the European Advisory Commission and gave it the task of working out the necessary arrangements.
Out of their lengthy deliberations emerged the protocol of 12 September, 1944 which ran as follows. “Germany, within her frontiers as they were on 31 October, 1937, will, for the purpose of occupation, be divided into three zones, one of which will be allotted to each of the three powers and a special Berlin zone which will be under the joint occupation of the three powers.”
On 14 November, 1944, the European Advisory Commission reached an agreement on the establishment of an Allied Control Council which was to function as the Government of Germany for the interim period till an indigenous German Government could be established.
The Yalta Conference of the Big Three in February 1945 confirmed the arrangements reached in London and implemented them by giving France a separate zone of occupation together with a sector of Berlin and by making France a member of the Allied Control Council. The Yalta Accord was followed by the agreement of the European Advisory Commission on 1 May, 1945 regarding control mechanism in Germany.
On 8 May, 1945, the United States’ forces were deep in the territory designated as the Russian zone, while Russians were in possession of the whole of Berlin. The Russians would not permit Allied entry into Berlin unless the Allies withdrew to their respective zones. When the four Commanders issued their proclamations of 5 June, 1945 assuming supreme authority over Germany, they decided to honour the mutual obligations undertaken by their respective Governments.
The Potsdam Agreement of 2 August, 1945, to which France was not a party, continued the antecedent agreements of the four Allied Commanders and assigned to the Allied Control Council specific functions of denazification, democratization, demilitarisation and deconcentration. The Potsdam Agreement made no mention of Four Power regime to be established in Berlin.
4. First Berlin Crisis (1948-49):
The problem of the access of the Western Allies to West Berlin was left to the Allied Commanders. On 29 June, 1945, General Clay, as representative of General Eisenhower, met General Zhukov in Berlin. He agreed, “as a temporary arrangement,” to the allocation of one main highway and one rail line, as well as two air corridors for the purpose of the Western Powers’ access to Berlin.
The agreement was not put to writing. However, the omission was subsequently rectified by the decision of the Allied Control Council on 30 November 1945 which granted the West three air corridors to be used without advance notice. In 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded the land routes and the Allies overcame the difficulty by organising the Berlin airlift for about 10 months till the Soviet Union lifted the blockade.
On 4 May 1949, an agreement was reached by which the Soviet. Union agreed to end the blockade of Berlin and the Western Powers agreed to lift their restrictions on communications with Eastern Germany which they had imposed as reprisal for the blockade.
The Nine-Power Agreement on Germany and European Defence of 3 August, 1954, concluded in Paris between the Western Powers and West Germany, which ended Allied occupation and restored full sovereignty to West Germany, reserved to the Allies “the existing rights and responsibilities relating to Berlin.” In an agreement with East Germany on 20 September, 1955, the Soviet Union recognised the sovereignty of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and resolved for herself the control of traffic-both personnel and freight—destined for Berlin.
5. Second Berlin Crisis (1958):
In December 1958, the NATO Council decided to equip West Germany with atomic weapons and rockets. That provoked the Soviet Union and precipitated a second Berlin crisis.
The Soviet Union sent the following notes to the Western Powers:
(1) The whole of Berlin formed geographically a part of East Germany and therefore the Western Powers had no legal right over Berlin.
(2) The Western Powers should withdraw from West Berlin within six months.
(3) West Berlin would be declared a demilitarized free city.
(4) The Soviet Union gave six months’ ultimatum to resolve the Berlin problem failing which Western access rights would end and any Western violation would immediately cause appropriate retaliation.
(5) The Soviet Union declared her intention to entrust to East Germany control over communications which meant that Western Powers were to take the permission of East Germany to reach West Berlin.
On 31 December, 1958, the United States along with the other Western Powers rejected the Soviet proposal. They claimed their right in Berlin from the conquest of Germany and not on the basis of Potsdam Agreement. They refused to be bowed down by threats or ultimatums. On 11 May, 1959, the Foreign Ministers Conference of Big Four Powers met in Geneva but could not arrive at any agreement. A new Summit was arranged for 16 May, 1960 but it did not meet on account of the U-2 incident. The Berlin crisis was over but the problem was not solved.
6. Third Berlin Crisis (1961):
When Khrushchev met President Kennedy in June 1961, he fixed a deadline for a separate treaty with Germany by the end of 1961. The United States was willing to negotiate on the question of Germany but was not willing to accept the Soviet view on Berlin.
The result was that both the leaders exchanged threatening notes on the question of Berlin. A serious situation was created in Germany as a result of the influx of refugees from East Germany. Doctors, engineers and skilled workers defected to West Germany on a large scale and caused brain drain in East Germany.
On 13 August, 1961, East Germany sealed her border between East Berlin and West Berlin and a 25-mile-long Berlin wall was erected between two Berlins. There was great tension. A Pass Agreement was concluded in 1963 which allowed people on both sides of Berlin to meet each other.
7. Fourth Berlin Crisis (1969):
There was another Berlin crisis in 1969. The West German Government decided to hold presidential elections on 5 March, 1969 in West Berlin in order to reassert her claim over West Berlin. East Germany opposed and re-imposed restrictions on land routes to prevent the members of the Electoral College from reaching West Berlin.
The West German Government sent the members of the Electoral College and other officials to West Berlin by air. On that occasion, President Nixon of the United States gave the following warning. “Let there be no miscalculation.
No unilateral move, no illegal act, no form of pressure from any source will shake the resolve of Western nations to defend their rightful status as protectors of the people of free Berlin.” The result was that the Soviet Union did not take any action and the situation was saved.
8. Berlin Agreement (1971):
After prolonged negotiations lasting for 18 months, the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union concluded an agreement over Berlin on 23 August, 1971. The restrictions on movement between East and West Berlin were removed. The Western powers and West Germany recognised the separate authority of East Germany. The West German Government and the Berlin Administration were urged to have direct dealings with East Germany.
The Four Big Powers accepted that West Berlin did not form an integral part of West Germany which means that West Berlin was not under West Germany but under the three Western Powers. In other words, the authority of West Berlin was separated from that of West Germany.
The Western Powers assumed directly the responsibility for the security of West Berlin. East Berlin was accepted as an integral part of East Germany. The Four Big powers understood not to change the status quo by force unilaterally. The agreement put a temporary end to years of tension. The problem of Berlin is intimately connected with the unification of Germany and can be finally solved only when Germany is reunified.