Question 7
Quick revise

Why was Germany so important in the East-West confrontation after 1945?

Paragraph One

  • The situation in 1945:
    • 1941-5 Allies agreed Germany to be totally defeated and there was much agreement on what to do with her after victory
    • disarmed
    • lose territory
    • economically weakened
    • possibly to be dismembered (Morgenthau Plan)
  • But by 1948-9 Germany at centre of most serious US-Soviet crisis so far

Paragraph Two

  • Germany’s importance:
    • Geographical position- Western and Soviet troops facing each other across the Elbe
    • West Berlin a western island in Soviet territory (highly vulnerable)
    • German power in military and industrial terms during two world wars
    • Showed ability to rapidly recover in inter-war years
  • Western powers, especially France and also USSR didn’t want Germany to recover as an independent state again – if she recovered as a dependent state this would give a great advantage to whichever bloc she belonged to
  • Original plan during war was to prevent Germany recovering at all
  • Proved impossible to implement after war – no agreement over peace treaty even when East-West relations were cordial – with onset of Cold War it proved quite impossible to agree a peace treaty

Paragraph Three

  • The course of events:
    • US-Soviet tension over Poland and Eastern Europe (not Germany) began the East-West tension in 1944-5
    • Middle East crises 1946-7 intensified this Iran and Turkey and Greece
    • 1945-6 the issue regarding Germany was Soviet desire for reparations (especially from Western zones) – only a minor problem
  • When tension erupted elsewhere it became vital that Left or Right-wing extremism did not win support in West Germany
  • Industrial recovery in Germany by 1947 of paramount importance to head off an economic crisis and possible social revolution in Western Europe generally
  • Led to a Western desire for a unified, prosperous West Germany as seen in:
  • September 1946 JF Byrne’s Stuttgart speech
  • January 1947 Economic merger of Great British and US zones
  • June 1947 Marshall Plan
  • February-June 1948 London Conference agreed a West German state and currency
  • June 1948 currency reform
  • May 1949 West German constitution adopted

Paragraph Four

  • Further developments:
    • Soviets had wanted to prevent what had happened i.e. a resurgent German state
    • Stalin’s response – tighten control over Eastern Europe, and begin the Berlin Blockade (a direct response to currency reform) thwarted by the Berlin Airlift
    • Final phase – USSR developed the atom bomb and the outbreak of the Korean War
  • US response – stronger conventional forces in Western Europe by creating a West German Army and admitting West Germany to NATO (by the Paris agreements of October 1954)
  • Soviet response – Warsaw Pact (May 1955)

Paragraph Five

  • Concluding comments – Cold War didn’t develop over Germany but once it had started there was conflict caused by the West’s desire to form a prosperous, united, and re-armed West Germany, and the USSR’s determination not to let it happen
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