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Friendly Enemies

Friendly Enemies: Britain and the GDR, 1949-1990

Stefan Berger
Norman LaPorte
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qdg64
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  • Book Info
    Friendly Enemies
    Book Description:

    During the Cold War, Britain had an astonishing number of contacts and connections with one of the Soviet Bloc's most hard-line regimes: the German Democratic Republic. The left wing of the British Labour Party and the Trade Unions often had closer ties with communist East Germany than the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). There were strong connections between the East German and British churches, women's movements, and peace movements; influential conservative politicians and the Communist leadership in the GDR had working relationships; and lucrative contracts existed between business leaders in Britain and their counterparts in East Germany. Based on their extensive knowledge of the documentary sources, the authors provide the first comprehensive study of Anglo-East German relations in this surprisingly under-researched field. They examine the complex motivations underlying different political groups' engagement with the GDR, and offer new and interesting insights into British political culture during the Cold War.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-827-0
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. vii-xii)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Stefan Berger and Norman LaPorte
  6. Introduction: BRITAIN AND THE OTHER GERMANY
    (pp. 1-25)

    In 1945, a pervasive mistrust of all things German informed political opinion and the public mood in Britain. Yet within the next two years British policy became oriented towards integrating a separate West German state into the Western alliance against communist-dominated Eastern Europe in the nascent Cold War. Indeed, the old German and the new Soviet threat became deeply intertwined in Britain’s policy in Europe, as it increasingly saw its task in managing Germany in order to contain the Soviet Union. Such rapid realignment of British foreign policy was personified by Ernest Bevin, the first post-war Foreign Secretary. Bevin clearly...

  7. Chapter 1 NEGOTIATING THE EMERGENCE OF TWO GERMANYS. BRITISH–GDR RELATIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EVOLUTION OF THE POST-WAR POLITICAL ORDER, 1945–1955
    (pp. 26-74)

    The defeat of Nazi Germany had stretched Britain to its limits. It would have been an impossible task to achieve without the Soviet Union. Hence gratitude to the Soviet people and even the Communist government was high in war-time Britain, especially among the political Left. However, as the war drew to a close the British political class was increasingly aware of the emerging conflicts of interests with the Soviet ally. This chapter starts off by tracing the impact of this new tension between the Western allies and the Soviet Union on Britain’s perception of Germany. Support for the communist transformation...

  8. Chapter 2 FROM SOVEREIGNTY TO RECOGNITION, 1955–1973
    (pp. 75-167)

    After 1955, British–West German relations came at times under considerable pressure over the question of how to handle the de facto existence of the GDR. The second German state realised that there were differences of opinion between the British and West German allies and attempted to strengthen those political forces in Britain most in favour of recognising the GDR. In the absence of official diplomatic relations, it was forced to use other channels of communication. It was particularly keen to develop its relations with the British Left, especially the Labour Left, and it also actively sought to promote trade...

  9. Chapter 3 NORMALISATION OF RELATIONS AND NEW BEGINNINGS, 1973–1979
    (pp. 168-224)

    When official recognition of the GDR by Britain finally came about, it did so as a consequence of the Basic Treaty of 1972 between the two Germanys and was swiftly followed by the setting up of official diplomatic relations. The Western allies of the FRG, including Britain had, by and large, stayed carefully one step behind West Germany’s Ostpolitik and it was only after the FRG had signalled its willingness to recognise the GDR in negotiations which started in 1970, that other Western states, including Britain, followed suit. This chapter begins by discussing the role of the GDR’s diplomatic representation...

  10. Chapter 4 FROM THE SECOND COLD WAR TO THE COLLAPSE OF THE GDR, 1979–1990
    (pp. 225-300)

    The election victories of Margaret Thatcher in the UK in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in the US in 1980 marked the onset of the ‘second Cold War’, in which American and British governments returned to cruder forms of anti-communism characteristic of the pre-détente period. This chapter will ask what impact the second Cold War had on relations between Britain and the GDR. It will also look at the impact of Gorbachev’s reform communism on British–GDR relations: how was the GDR viewed in light of the Soviet Union’s attempt to combine communism with economic and political reform. Official diplomatic and...

  11. Conclusion: BRITAIN AND THE GDR, 1949–1990
    (pp. 301-336)

    The governing elites in Britain and the GDR had very different ideas about democracy, civil society and politics. The country’s economic systems were diametrically opposed. And they belonged to antagonistic power blocs during the Cold War. All of this, one might argue, does not exactly amount to an ideal scenario for blossoming relationships between the two countries. And yet, as the previous pages have shown, manifold links across the Iron Curtain existed from early on and persisted through various phases of Cold War history, undergoing many permutations over the course of forty years. Once the decision had been taken among...

  12. REFERENCES
    (pp. 337-364)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 365-386)