Master of Arts (MA)
Semester of Degree Completion
Laurence C. Thorsen
This thesis describes and examines two decades of political relations between East and West Germany and their respective allies, and also presents a thorough analysis of political developments and events that took place from the beginning of West German Ostpolitk in 1969 until unification on October 1990. The term unification is used because Germany was not re-unified within the pre-war borders of 1937.
One of the principal goals of this thesis focuses on the discussion on the influence Ostpolitik alongside with the policy of rapprochement toward the GDR and USSR had on achieving a working relationship between Bonn and East Berlin and to what extent Ostpolitik contributed to the process of peaceful unification of Germany. Ostpolitik, pursued and conducted by the Federal Republic from 1969 to 1990 was instrumental in ending the Cold War and eventually in achieving German unification in October 1990. This study not only focuses on political events of the period, but also on political, economic, ideological, social, and military developments, and political thinking expressed in East-West relations and subsequent detente.
Political analysts and commentators had a strong tendency to neglect or seriously underestimate the likely effects of Ostpolitik on the process of German unification attributing the successful, peaceful German revolution to a superpower agreement. The analysis of the influence of Ostpolitik on the event of unification, as provided in this thesis, gives a new perspective for a substantial policy aimed at mutual trust and eliminating destructive antagonisms in central Europe.
The analysis of West German policy toward the GDR, the Soviet Union, and the East European countries provides substantial evidence that Ostpolitik contributed to German unification insofar as it improved political and economic relations between East and West Europe. Ostpolitik, congruent with the existing theory of integrational processes and subsystems, led to significant changes on the European arena and finally paved the way for unification by peaceful integration of two systems.
This study discusses also the monetary, economic and social union that alongside Ostpolitik and Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of new thinking may be regarded as the major steps toward German unification. In solving the German Question which so heavily contributed to the East-West conflict, Mikhail Gorbachev reshaped post-war Europe and relieved the world from political tensions. This thesis points out that one of the crucial factors that made Ostpolitik a historical success was the fact that Ostpolitik was to a large extent congruent with the new thinking of Glasnost and Perestroika, Gorbachev's grand design for the new Soviet internal and external policies.
Noetzoldt, Lothar J., "How West Germany's Ostpolitik Contributed to German Unification" (1998). Masters Theses. 1741.