The Heritage Foundation

Backgrounder #740 on Europe

November 16, 1989

November 16, 1989 | Backgrounder on Europe

"What America Can Do About the German Question, Which Again HauntsEurope"


(Archived document, may contain errors)

740 November 16,1989 WWT ANIERICA CAN DO ABOUT THE GERMA NQUESTION WHICH AGAINHAUNTS EXJROPE The question of Germanys future again haunts Europe. The opening of East Germanys borders with the West raises an ancient question for Europe Should the people of Germany be united into a single national state?

This is a vital question for United States and Europe because Germanys national ambitions have caused two world wars, and because West Germany is today Europes strongest economy and an indispensable member of the Western military alliance, which Washington leads. For decades Germans and Western observers alike have said that the question of German reunification would not be resolved in their lifetimes. Today, this is no longer true. For the first time in the post-World War II era West German leaders believe reunif ication is a near-term possibility. Said West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl this November 8: We have less reason than ever to be resigned to the long-term division of Germany into two states.

Reason for Optimism. Kohls reassessment of the prospects for reu nification is understandable, given the disarray of the East German communist regime. But there is another reason why he is optimistic about reunification. Because the Soviets and their allies in East Germany long have been the chief obstacles to German r eunification, the apparent willingness of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tolerate reform in East Germany implies an important geopolitical change in Europe 1 Toward German Reunification? llae Washington Post, November 9,1989, p. A22.

Undermining Commun ist Legitimacy. Gorbachevs encouragement of reform in East Germany may have let the reunification genie out of the The best alternative for the U.S Germany and Europeans is the second one: a German Confederation that would be modeled on the European Parli a ment, which is a representative body of the Common Market. This alternative would allow West Germany to remain a member of NATO while either establishing East Germany as a neutral zone with no Soviet troops on its territory, or allowing East Germany to re m ain in the Warsaw Pact with only a token presence of Soviet forces. Moscows acquiescence of course, is essential. Although the two Germanies would be free to develop close political, economic, and social ties within the new German Confederation 2 they wou ld not have a common army and would retain separate responsibilities for foreign and defense policies.

The Soviet Union will oppose reunification in the short term, but it may have no choice but to settle for a closer association of the two Germanies in th e future. Events may be spinning out of control in East Germany, and it is not inconceivable that Moscow someday may prefer a solution to the German Question negotiated under international auspices to one decided solely by the Gemans:If faced with the pro spects of East-Gerinany qfiitting the Warsaw Pact, Moscow may be willing to accept a German settlement that guarantees that neither NATO nor West Germany will turn East Germany militarily against the Soviet Union.

Soviet influence in Germany as much as pos sible, retain security ties with West Germany, and to encourage West Germany to expand its democratic and free market institutions into East Germany. With this in mind, the U.S. in consultation with Bonn and the other Western allies, should press for what Secretary of State James Baker has called the reconciliation of the two German states.To achieve this goal the U.S. should develop a U.S. policy toward German reunification that seeks partys monopoly of power The aims of U.S. policy toward German reunific a tion should be to reduce 1)Free and fair elections in East Germany and an end to the communist 2)Open borders between East and West Germany 3)Reunification of the two German states based on the principle of 4)Inviolability of Germanys borders with non-Ger man states.

QMaintenance of West Germanys security ties with theWest federalism.

The U.S. should develop a seven-step plan for reunifying Germany 1)Consultations with Americas European allies, particularly Bonn, about consisting of the German Question; George Bush should call a special NATO summit to discuss the future of Germany and E urope 2)Raising the German Question when Bush meets Mikhail Gorbachev at their Malta summit in December, and warning the Soviet leader not to intervene against reform in East Germany 3)Calling for free and fair elections in East Germany as a first step to w ard reunification 4)Proposing a decentralized German Confederation based on the model of the European Parliament, after East Germany has its free elections 5)Proposing the creation of a temporary Commission on Inter-German Affairs consisting of representa t ives from West Germany, a freely elected East German regime, the U.S France, Britain, and the Soviet Union, to 3negotiate reunification and to monitor free elections in East Germany; this commission would be abolished once the German Confederations Nation al Assembly convenes.

Germanys borders, security arrangements, allied rights, and the status of Berlin, once the Commission on Inter-German Affairs convenes 7)Calling for.-elections for an.Al1-German .Constituent Assembly.,to create a common constitution f or the German Confederation 6)Proposing a German Peace Treaty to settle questions relating to The German Question is and always has been how to accommodate the national aspirations of the German-speaking people in Europe without infringing on the legitima te national, political, and security rights and interests of Germanys neighbors. In short, the German Question is: What to do with Germany? For centuries, Europe has wrestled with attempts to answer it.

The Holy Roman Empire. The Germanic King Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of Rome on Christmas Day, 800 AD in Rome. His realm, known to history as the Holy Roman Empire, covered most of Europe, from France to western Germany and from Holland to northern Italy. Charlemagnes ascension to the throne signified t he transfer of the Roman imperial legacy to the Germanic peoples who had overrun the Roman Empire after the fourth century AD.

After Charlemagne died in 814, his empire crumbled and no Germanic leader was able to restore it. In the Middle Ages (1000-1400) no Germanic emperor was able to stand up to the Papacy, the powerful city-states of Italy or even the German nobility. In the 17th century the unity of the Holy Roman Empire was frustrated as well by Catholic France, Protestant Sweden and Protestant Germa n princes who rebelled against the Catholic Hapsburg emperors in the devastatingThirty Years War (1618-1648).

Bismarck and His Successors. The Holy Roman Empire was formally dissolved by Napoleon in 1806, and eventually was replaced by a decentralized and Austrian-dominated German Confederation that lasted until 18

48. The question throughout the 19th century was whether Germany would be unified into a centralized national state by Prussia or by Austria.

After military victories over Austria in 1866 and France in 1870-1871, Prussia founded the German Empire in 1871 with its king as the new German Kaiser.

This new Germany excluded Austria but included all other German principalities, plus German-speaking territories of what are today Poland and Russia. Its territory was larger than Britain or France; similarly its population of 41 million surpassed the 39 million of France and 31 million of Britain.

Overnight, imperial Germany became the largest state of Western and Central Europe, smaller (though probably stronger) only than Russia 1 WHAT IS THE GERMAN QUESTION 4 The German Empires new leader, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, assured the world that the German Empire was satiated, meaning that he had no new territorial designs on Europe. He was speaking the t r uth. Unfortunately for Germany, and the world, Bismarcks successors were not satiated. An expansionist Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II did much to ignite the First World War. Adolf Hitlers refusal to accept Germanys defeat in 1918 led him to try again at b eating Germanys old enemies, only this time by total war The Post-War German Problem. Thepostwar Geman problem began even before American and Soviet soldiers met on April 27,1945, at Torgau on the Elbe River in Germany, some 30 miles northeast of Leipzig. The unexpected strength of Hitlers armies in the West had slowed the Allied liberation of Europe and allowed the Red Army to push much deeper in Germany than the Western allies had hoped. Defeated Germany was divided into American, Soviet, British, and Fr ench occupation zones. When U.S.

Secretary of State James F. Byrnes in 1946 proposed a 25-year disarmament pact for a reunited democratic Germany, Moscow balked. It soon became clear that the Soviet Union, which had set up a communist government in its Ger man occupation zone, would not agree to any plan for German unity that did not reserve power for its communist German allies and submit Germany to Soviet influence.

In response to Soviet attempts to shield the East German zone from Western influence, the U.S. and its European allies helped create the Federal Republic of Germany in 19

49. The Federal Republics constitution claimed that Germans living in the East were entitled to West German citizenship and as it said in the preamble, that The entire German people are called upon to achieve in free self-determination the unity and freedom of Germany.2 Germanys division has taken two different directions in the post-war period.

The first was articulated by Konrad Adenauer, who was the West Germanys first chancellor, senring from 1949 to 19

63. He tried to isolate East Germany and integrate the Federal Republic as closely as possible into the NATO Alliance and the European Economic Community.

The second direction was called OstpoZitik (Eastern policy) and was pursued by Adenauers successors, including Christian Democratic Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Social Democratic chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt, and the current Christian D e mocratic leader Helmut Kohl. While they have refused to establish full diplomatic relations with East Germany, BOMS close relations with East Berlin amounts to tacit recognition. BOM signed a series of treaties with Moscow and other East European countrie s , including Poland, in the early 1970s, normalizing Two Policy Directions. West Germanys approach to the question of 2 Preamble to Basic Law (Constitution) of the Federal Republic of Germany, Approved by the Parliamentary Council in Bonn, May 8,1949, U.S. Department of State, Documents on Gemuny, 1944-1985, p. 221 5 relations, improving access to Berlin, and reconciling territorial claims. No treaty of official recognition has been signed between Bonn and East Berlin U.S. INTERESTS AND ATIITUDES TOWARD THE GERMAN QUESTION The U.S. officially has supported the reunification of Germany. As early as 1947 Secretary of State George C. Marshall said that the United States seeks].a comprehensive-settlement which would overcome-the present division of Germany.3 On N ovember 4,1955, France, Britain, the U.S and West Germany jointly submitted a proposal at a Geneva meeting of the foreign ministers stating that Free and secret elections shall be held throughout Germany during September 1956, for the selection of represe n tatives for an All-German National Assembly to draft a constitution and to form a government thereunder for a reunified Germany.4 George Bush said this September 25, that If reunification] was worked out between the Germanies, I do not think we should vie w that as bad for Western interests.9 Americas interests in Europe are intimately tied to the fate of Germany.

Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, with a population of over 800 million and in control of just about half the worlds economic output, is the only global region with the industrial and economic capacity to threaten the U.S. militarily. West Germany plays the key European role in a security system designed to.deny control of the continent to the Soviet Union. The question of German unification t hus invariably raises questions about the continued viability of the Western security system and European stability plans to consolidate Western Europe as a balance against the expansion of communism. American leaders in the early post-World War 11 period believed that European stability could not be achieved with an impoverished and politically uncertain Germany in the heart of Western Europe. As a result, the U.S. supported the establishment of West Germany in 1949 thereby providing political stability i n the form of a German state whose constitution promised adherence to Western democratic values and institutions.Then, in 1955, at U.S. urging, NATO invited West Germany to join the alliance and to rearm and assume the bulk of responsibility for NATOs stan ding front-line defense. By 1962, Germanys 400,000 strong armed forces outnumbered U.S. troops in Europe.

A united but neutral Germany would present serious problems for the U.S and its West European allies, even if there is an East-West conventional arms Adhering to Western Values. Germany played a central role in Americas 3 Depamnent of State BuIIetin, December 28,1947, p. 1247 4 Western Proposal for the Reunification of Germany Through Free Elections, November 4,1955, in Documents on Gemany, op. cit., p . 471 5 Idea of reunifying Germany roars to life, scaring some, The Washington limes, September 26,1989 6 reduction agreement. Moscow still would remain Europes dominant military power. With a non-aligned Germany out of NATO, all of Central Europe would be off limits to the truncated Atlantic Alliance, leaving NATO without logistical support, communications, defensive positions, or even overflight rights east of France and the Low Countries. In such a situation, the U.S undoubtedly would call home its force s and would have dim prospects of redeploying them in Germany in case of war. The result would be a power vacuumin the heart.of Europe which.only a large German.army could fill.

Germany itself, as a neutral state, would be left without the protection of Am ericas nuclear forces as a deterrent to war, and thus completely vulnerable to Soviet nuclear intimidation. The Germans could try to counter Soviet strategic weapons by developing their own nuclear weapo.ns, but this could prove to be extremely destabiliz ing.

Creating A Confederation. But if a fully reunified Germany is not in the U.S. interest, a partly unified Germany in which Soviet influence is greatly reduced in East Germany is. The creation of a German Confederation in which West Germany remains in N ATO and East Germany becomes either neutral or largely free of Soviet troops would be fully consistent with U.S interests. Such a confederation would meet an important U.S. strategic objective: the reduction or even elimination of Soviet influence in East Germany. So long as West Germany is anchored in the Western Alliance, it will be an effective counter to Soviet power and therefore a strategic asset to Europe and the U.S.The character of NATO (and the Warsaw Pact) could change as military forces are red u ced by international agreement, but West Germany and America would remain natural allies with largely overlapping interests in balancing Soviet military power and expanding Western democratic and economic institutions into Eastern Europe SOVET INTERESTS A N D ATIITUDES Historically the Soviet Union has taken an ambivalent attitude toward the German Question. Though Stalin called for the creation of a neutral German state in 1952, this was widely seen as an attempt to stop the rearmament of West Germany. Sinc e that time the Soviet Union has opposed reunification backing its East German ally whose very existence depends on the division of Germany. A year ago, for example, during Chancellor Kohls visit to Moscow Gorbachev brusquely denied the very existence of t h e German Question insisting that any challenge to the division of Germany would be a dangerous venture.6 Valentin Falin told a West German magazine that the historical fate of the This attitude seems to be changing. Eight months later, Gorbachev advisor 6 The Wall Slreet Journal, October 28,1988 7 Germans is linked to the division of E~rope An influential foreign policy columnist for the Soviet government newspaper Izvestiu Alexander Bovin who usually expounds views held by the reformist wing of the Soviet leadership, raised the prospect of German reunification in exchange for the dissolution of blocs in a more homogeneous, more European, so to say Europe. The clearest indicator of a change in Moscows position toward East Germany, however, came in the Kreml i ns support for reforms in East Germany Moscows Concerns. The renewed Kremlin interest in the German Question probably is triggered by a couple of key considerations. First, only West Germany can master enough economic resources to help perestroika inside t he Soviet Union; West Germany is already the Soviet Unions largest trading partner in the West, and the Kremlin is banking on West German credits to finance Gorbachevs reforms. It is important, therefore, for Moscow to court Bonn. Second, the surge of unr e st in East Germany raises questions about East Germanys membership in the Warsaw Pact. Moscow wants to keep East Germany in the Pact, but may be willing to let it go if West Germany were to leave NATO Gorbachevs two major strategic objectives: successful domestic reform and the disintegration of NATO. He needs West Germany to makeperestroika work, and for strategic reasons, would like to detach it from NATO.

Given such stakes and Gorbachevs decisive foreign policy style, it is conceivable that he may aband on the unstable and increasingly costly East German regime in exchange for the dissolution of the two military blocs, the subsequent creation of a reunified neutral Germany in which West Germany is detached from NATO, and a massive influx of German financ i al aid and technology into the Soviet Union. Until the military blocs are dissolved however, Gorbachev will permit almost any reform in East Germany including the fall of the Communist Party) save one: East Germany must not leave the Warsaw Pact unilatera lly.

German Chip. At some point, however, Gorbachev could be forced to abandon East Germany regardless of what happens to the military blocs. For one thing, if a noncommunist regime survives in Poland, the viability of the strategic link between the Soviet Union and its more than 300,000 troops in East Germany will become increasingly more difficult to maintain. For another, a democratic East Germany could emerge that could ask Moscow to recall its troops without any compensation whatsoever from the West. If so Gorbachev may be tempted to cash in the German chip while he still has it.

The recent tumultuous events in East Germany make such a deal more conceivable, if not more probable The fate of the Germanies is therefore closely intertwined with 7 Der Spie gel (Hamburg June 5,1989 8 Mirovaya Ekonomica Medadunarodnye Otnushenia (Moscow January 1989, p. 66 8 WEST EUROPEAN INTERESTS AND ATIITUDES No doubt a great deal about West European attitudes toward German reunification can be summed up in a statement sho r tly after World War II widely attributed to Britains Lord David Ismay, NATOs first Secretary General, that the function of NATO is to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. Whether apocryphal or not, the statement isprivately cited .often enough.by.British officials to suggest that there remains some truth to it, at least from the perspective of Germanys West European World War II enemies.

Yet Britain, France, and other European NATO allies are publicly committed to German reunificat ion in principle. The tension between the sentiments expressed by those citing Ismay and official West European support for German reunification did not present a problem when reunification appeared a distant prospect. But it does now coming to grips with the reunification issue in Europe? French President Francois Mitterrand last week called the German desire for reunification legitimate if achieved through peaceful and democratic means, and added that he is not afraid of a united Germany? Despite obvious fears about the economic might of a united Germany, and latent fears about German territorial claims and revived militarism, there is concern in France evident in Mitterrands comments, that a French and Western failure to support unification could push Ge r many toward the East and tgvard compromise with Moscow to bring an end to its divided status demonstrated a pragmatic strategy of preparing for the prospect of unification by strengthening West Germanys ties to Western Europe through the European Communit y and to a lesser extent through increased Franco-German defense cooperation.

While recent attention to the issue has sparked much discussion in the British press on reunification prospects, no clear government policy toward the issue has emerged in London as it has in Paris. Beyond ritualistic support Despite its reputation for Germanophobia, France has taken the lead in Pragmatic French, Ambivalent British. For some time, Mitterrand has 9 See, for example, EMO von Loewenstern, Frances Germanophobia Canno t Block Reunification, The Wall Street Journal, October 8,1989 10Robert J. McCartney, Mitterrand Is Not Afraid of United Germany, The Washingon Post, November 4 1989, p. 18 11Mitterrand expressed this concern earlier this year. See, Mitterrand on FRG Drift i ng Away From West Hamburg DPA, July 26,1989; FBIS Westena Elimp, July 28,1989, p. 11 9 1 for unification, British government attitudes, far more than in France, tend still to be marked by careful ambivalence and denial. Both were evidenced in statements t h is fall by Foreign Office Minister of State William Waldegrave who made clear Britains interest in ending the division of Europe, but hedged when it came to Germany. Why should we not see two or three German-speaking states with different types of economy ? he asked, adding that reunification seems an issue more of the past fifty years than of the next fifty years.12 Responding to a reporters question about German reunification, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher implied on November 11 that such thinking was p remape, saying that the reporter was moving too fast with such speculations EAST EUROPEAN INTERESTS AND ATTITUDES The prospect of German reunification understandably brings out ambivalence in Eastern Europe. West Germany is admired for its post-World War II achievements and courted for its economic favors, particularly by Poland and Hungary. At the same time, German atrocities are not forgotten.

The possible revival of the long dormant German political and milimy power unsettles many throughout the region.

West Germanys ties to Eastern Europe far exceed those of any Western state, as a result of geography, historical connections, and conscious policy.

Bonns Ostpolitik, the policy of increasing German political, economic, and other ties to the governments and peoples of Eastern Europe, was begun in the 1960s by the Grand Coalition government of Kurt Georg Kiesinger and continued by his successors, Chris tian Democrats and Social Democrats alike.

Traditionally Germany has been the dominant economic power in Eastern Europe and likely will remain so. Its trade with and investment in these countries vastly outweighs that of any other Western state. Example: W est German trade with Poland last year totaled $1.5 billion, compared to $800 million between Britain and Poland and $715 million between the U.S. and Poland. Some countries in Eastern Europe, such as Hungary, welcome West German investment, seeing themse lves as economic partners in developing markets in the East, and are unconcerned about German reunification.

Territorial Rearrangements. This good will toward Germany, however, is not shared by everyone in Eastern Europe. Despite the postwar democratizatio n of West Germany and its record of four decades as a good European citizen, some East Europeans understandably are nexvous at the prospect of facing an ever stronger and possibly reunified Germany cut off l2waldegrave Backs Support for East European Refo rm, me Independent, August 26,1989, FBIS Western Eutope, September 7,1989, Annex, p. 1.

Usee John G. Roos, EuropeansTrust U.S. Conventional Shield,hed Forces Journal, September, 1989, p.

U. Britains confidence in allies: US 78 percent West Germany (51 per ceut France (44 percent French rankings: U.S 71 percent Britain (67 percent West Germany (a0 percent 10 from West. Most concerned is Poland, which, as a result of postwar territorial rearrangements,now includes significant areas of former German lands wit h in its borders. When Poland was forced to cede the Western Ukraine and parts of Byelorussia to the Soviet Union in the Wast, it was compensated in the West by huge chunks of defeated Germany. Poland received most of the captured German territory east of t h e Oder and Western Neisse rivers including such provinces as Silesia, East Prussia, and parts of Pomerania and such cities as Szczecin and Wroclaw, which once were known by their German names as Stettin and Breslau. Some West German politicians believe th at these lands should be returned to a reunited Germany.

Seeking A Countemeight. Bonn repeatedly has said that it has no designs on these territories, but no statement on the part of West Germany, however heartfelt, will or should reassure the Poles comple tely.The 1970 treaty normalizing relations between West Germany and Poland states that both countries reaffirm the inviolability of their existing frontiers now and in the future and undertake to respect each others territorial integrity without re~tricti on But the West German government also has said that it cannot speak for a future reunited Germany that many want to change the borders with Poland.

Because of these concerns, East Europeans may seek a counterweight to German influence in the West, but non e of the available candidates France Britain, or the U.S is likely to be able to substitute for Germanys involvement. As a result, notwithstanding Hungarys rather benign attitude toward German reunification, most East Europeans will remain uncertain and u n committed on the German Question A US. PLAN FOR REUNIFYING GERMANY If West Germany is not to be lost to the Atlantic Community and its system of collective security, it is essential for American strategy in Europe to be consistent with a conception of Ger m anys future that is attractive to Germans, East and West. In practice this means that Washington should offer a practical alternative to a reunified but neutral German state completely cut off from security ties in the West. Washington should support a so l ution to German reunification between the extremes of complete division and full reunification. Washington should devise a tangible plan for German unity that not only allows for closer political and economic association of the two German states, but prot ects the rights of other Europeans and the security interests of the West.

The specific aims of U.S. policy on German reunification should be to reduce as much as possible Soviet military presence in East Germany, to 14Treaty Between the Federal Republic o f Germany and Poland Concerning the Basis for Normalizing Their Mutual Relations, signed at Warsaw, December 7,1970, in Documents on Germany, op. cit p. 1126 11 retain American security ties with West Germany, and to encourage the expansion of West German democratic and free market institutions into East Germany.

Several events would have to precede the reunification of Germany. The German Democratic Republic of Germany would have to be transformed radically before the process of reunification began. The c ommunist system and its present rulers in East Germany would have to go. This likely would have to be*accompanied bythe withdrawal-of Soviet forces from East .

Germany, or at least drastic reductions, possibly as the result of a conventional arms control agreement between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

For the Soviets to acquiesce to German reunification, the military blocs in Europe would have to be dissolved first, or Moscow would have to change its current position against reunification. The U.S. should opp ose dissolution of the military blocs. If East Germany becomes a full-fledged democracy Moscow may have no choice but to let it go without getting West Germany out of NATO.

US. Guiding Principles for German Reunification German reunification should be guided by a set of principles. They are Regardless of what the Soviets do, American policy toward the question of Free and fair elections in East Germany.

The U.S. should support free and fair elections in East Germany.The Western Allies are explicitly commi tted in Article 7, paragraph 2 of the 1954 Treaty with the Federal Republic of Germany to achieve by peaceful means their common aim of a reunified Germany, enjoying a liberal-democratic constitution, like that of the Federal Republic, and integrated with in the European could be formed only if the people in East Germany could elect representatives freely to a Constituent Assembly This democratic constitution for a greater Germany Open borders between East and West Germany.

A reunified Germany could not exist without open borders, much like exist today between West Germany and Austria. The events of the past week indicate that this process already has begun Federalism.

East Germany could be loosely associated with West Germa ny in a decentralized German Confederation, rather than in a highly centralized nation state.The National Assembly set up to govern the confederation could coordinate political and economic affairs between the two German states 15Convention on Relations B e tween the Three Powers and the Federal Republic of Germany, May 26,1952 As Amended by Schedule I of the Protocol on Termination of the Occupation Regime in Germany, signed at Paris, October 23,1954, in Doarnienu on Gemany, op. cit p. 428 12 and even admin ister some things, such as the post office and transportation remaining separate would be the foreign and defense ministries.

A confederated Germany has deep historical roots. Notwithstanding Bismarck and Hitler, German history is marked more by regionalis m than by centralism. The regional ties of Bavarians, Hamburgers, Rhinelanders Prussians, and others probably are stronger than an emotional commitment to a greater Germany. Germany, moreover, has a long history of confederations upon which it can-draw, s tartingwith the German Confederation of 1815 and the North German Confederation of 18

66. And there is the long tradition of the Holy Roman Empire, in which separate principalities carried on independent foreign policies while remaining politically associa ted with one another in the Imperial Diet Inviolability of German borders with non-German states.

The U.S. and both Germanies have signed the 1975 Helsinki Accords which requires all participants to respect the territorial integrity of all countries in Eu rope.16 Bonns 1970 Treaty normalizing relations with Poland also commits West Germany to the inviolability of their existing frontiers.

These documents prevent the U.S. and Bonn from legally pressing for the return to Germany of its territories lost to Po land after World War II. Since there is so far no great desire in either of the two German states for a return of these territories, the border question at this time should not be a major obstacle to German reunification Maintaining West Germanys security ties with the West.

Some form of Western military alliance is needed in Europe to protect American and West European security. Regardless of whether Soviet forces leave Central Europe, the Soviet Union could still pose a potential threat to Western Europe . A Western military alliance requires the participation of West Germany. NATO still provides the best security framework for Western Germany, but the character of NATO could change if forces in Europe are drastically reduced. Thus, German reunification s hould not come at the expense of West Germanys membership in NATO Creating an All-German Confederation.

The aim of U.S. policy should be to create a decentralized German confederation based on the model of the Common Markets European Parliament. Like this political assembly headquartered in Brussels and Strasbourg which represents essentially sovereign states, the two German states could be associated loosely with one another politically and economically, but would retain certain rights, obligations, and i n stitutions separately, particularly with respect to security arrangements 16Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe: Final Act, Depment of State Bulletin, September 1 1975, p. 324 13 This German Confederation would consist of the territories curr ently 1 comprising West and East Germany. The German Confederation would be fully democratic with free elections in the East and open borders between West Germany and what is today East Germany.

Common Rights. East and West Germans could retain their citiz enship in their respective parent states and would have certain rights common to all Germans, such as voting for a German National Assembly representing all Germansas the European Parliament representsill West Europeans whose nations are members. The Nati o nal Assembly could hold its sessions in the old German Reichfag building in Berlin, while West Germany and East Germany would hold their regional parliaments respectively in the West German Parliament House (Bundeshaus) in Bonn and in what is today called the Peoples Chamber (Vokkmmer) in East Berlin. The Confederations National Assembly could have a symbolic president and could send observers to the United Nations, as the European Community does, while Bonn and East Berlin maintain separate permanent repr e sentatives at the U.N. All domestic and inter-German policies could be coordinated by the Assembly and its appointed officers, and some, like environmental affairs, transport and post services, actually managed jointly. It can be safely assumed that with open borders and free elections, East Germany would evolve a democratic and free market system.

Foreign and defense policies would still be controlled separately by Bonn and East Berlin. West Germany would remain a member of NATO, while East Germany could become a neutral zone with all Soviet troops withdrawn according to a timetable established by East-West agreement; or if East Germany remains in the Warsaw Pact, it could host a token contingent of Soviet forces. If as the result of international negotia t ions East Germany were to become neutral, it would have to pledge not to join NATO, and not to station its troops on West German soil. This would likely be necessary to reassure the Soviets that East Germany would never join a military alliance against th e m. By the same token, West Germany would pledge not to join the Warsaw Pact, and not to station West German or NATO troops on East German soil. East Germanys neutral status could be guaranteed by international agreement signed by the two German states and the four Allied Powers of World War 11, the U.S U.S.S.R France, and Britain.This agreement would allow East Germany to retain a defense force, but bar it from merging the force with the West German army.

Security Arrangements. Keeping the security arrange ments and the defense forces of the two Germanies separate is probably the only way to get a negotiated agreement acceptable to all parties. For one thing, the Soviet Union understandably would never agree to a united Germany, with a single army, allied m ilitarily to the West. For another, the emergence of a united Germany as the supreme military power in Europe would upset the balance of power.

German states and the four Allied Powers of World War II, but legally they These security arrangements would hav e to be negotiated between the two 14 ultimatelyshould be decided and announced by Bonn and East Berlin, and ratified by the German Confederations National Assembly once it is legally 1 convened.The 1955 Austrian StateTreaty provides guidance in this resp ect.

Austrian neutrality is not discussed in theTreaty, but was a unilateral declaration made by the Austrians themselves.Though it was understood that neutrality was a precondition for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Austria, Vienna announced its neu trality on its own Growing Support. Such would be the casewith the.German decision on security arrangements for the two halves of the Confederation. Both German states would recognize the restrictions on the sovereignty of the German Confederation in fore i gn and defense policy (specifically the neutrality of the Eastern zone, if that course should be taken, and the prohibition on unification of foreign and defense ministries and armies) as the price for greater political and economic unity, free and fair e lections in East Germany open borders, the withdrawal or deep reductions of Soviet troops in East Germany, and the freedom to develop all of Germany politically and economically as Germans see fit.

There is growing support in West Germany for some form of an All-German Confederation. West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher endorses the idea, stating in an interview in the September 25 1989, issue of the West German magazine Der SpiegeZ t hat We should bring together the approaching European federalism with our German federalism.

A European federalism and a German federalism, if they could cover the same ground would] open new forms of co-existence I Why shouldnt there be room within a federal Europe for a German federalism that includes all Germans?

A Seven-Step Plan for Reunifying Germany Reunifying Germany would be extraordinarily difficult. The German Question is highly sensitive and bound up not only with the East-West conflict, but wi th ancient historical enmities and prejudices that predate the Cold War.

Washington, however, cannot let the problems difficulty lead to passivity.

The breathtaking speed of changes in East Germany alone makes it clear that American policymakers no longe r can ignore the question of German reunification. If they do, they risk being outflanked by Gorbachev. He soon may make some bold proposal on the future of Germany and Europe that puts the U.S. and the West on the defensive. It is thus essential that Was h ington have a concrete plan very soon for German reunification, on terms favorable to the West 17Genscher on Europe and German Reunification, Sfufemenfs and Speeches, German Information Center New York, N.Y., October 3,1989 15 To encourage the reunificati on of Germany and protect Western interests the U.S. should 1) Consult with European allies, particularly Bonn, about the German Question.

Given the enormous sensitivities involved, the U.S. needs first to approach West Germany and its other West European allies about their views on Ge-man reunification. The main.-objective of such discussions would be to get the German Question on the U.S.-West European agenda and to reassure all allies that the U.S. does not plan to compromise West European security with precipitous plans for German reunification. Bush should call a NATO summit soon after the Bush-Gorbachev summit in December to discuss developments in Europe and Germany. Given the importance of the U.S. to NATO, and its special role in Berlin, America sh ould be included in all deliberations on the future of Europe 2) Raise the German Question with Gorbachev at summits.

Following consultation with Americas NATO allies, Bush should approach Gorbachev in their December summit and again in their more formal s ummit next spring about the question of German reunification. The main purpose of such discussions would be to exchange views and to determine Gorbachevs opinion about allowing East Germany to go its own way. Above all Gorbachev should be warned that inte rference in East Germany would jeopardize his relations with the U.S 3) Call for free elections in East Germany.

The process of reunification cannot begin seriously until East Germans can express themselves in free and democratic elections. Only then will the East Germans get a regime willing to discuss the prospect of reunification 4) Propose a decentralized German Confederation, based on the model of the European Parliament, after East Germany has its free elections 5) Call for the creation of a temporar y All-German Commission on Inter-German Affairs.

If a reformist regime emerges in East Germany, the U.S. should propose the creation of an All-German Commission on Inter-German Affairs modeled on the European Parliament and comprised of an upper chamber Gt h official representatives from West Germany, East Germany, and the four Allied Powers of World War II and a lower chamber with elected officials from West and East Germany. The Soviets proposed an All-German Council similar to this on November 2,1955, bu t that differed from this proposal in that the four Allied Powers were not to be represented and armaments were to be discussed. Two days later, on November 4,1955, the foreign ministers of France, Britain, and the U.S. submitted a proposal for the reunifi c ation of Germany in which a commission was to be established to prepare for elections throughout all of Germany.These elections were to 16 lead to an AU-German National Assembly to draft a constitution and to form a government thereunder for a reunified G ermany.

The new proposed All-German Commission would differ from the U.S and Soviet-proposed commissions of 19

55. The new commissions purpose would be to begin discussions on calling an All-German Constituent Assembly to write a constitution, manage inne r-German affairs in the transition toward a new Confederation, and monitor free elections in East Germany, and for the upper chamber to serve as-axegotiating fonun for the creation of the new German Confederation. It also could be used as a forum to negot iate a German Peace Treaty between Germany and the victorious Allied powers of World War

11. Once the Commission has completed its work, it should be disbanded 918 I 6) Begin negotiations of a German PeaceTreaty A German Peace Treaty should be negotiated in the upper chamber of the All-German Commission. These negotiations should begin once the National Assembly of the German Confederation has been convened. Negotiators would be West Germany, a democratically elected regime in East Germany the U.S the U.S . S.R France, and BritahTheTreaty would declare that Germanys current borders are fixed permanently, settle security arrangements, establish procedures for the allies to yield their rights in Berlin, and establish the place of the German Confederation and i t s two major parts in the international community. It would be signed by the four Allied Powers, Bonn, and a democratic East Berlin. Once the German Confederation is set up and has a constitution, its National Assembly would ratify the PeaceTreaty on behal f of all Germans I 7) Call for elections for an All-German Constituent Assembly.

Once the conditions for free and fair elections exist in East Germany, and once the All-German Commission has been established to monitor elections Washington should propose e lections for an All-German Constituent Assembly to write a constitution for the German Confederation. Once the Assembly has completed this, it can call for the elections of the Confederations first National Assembly which can ratify a German Peace Treaty n egotiated in the All-German Commission for Inter-German Affairs CONCLUSION The question gf German reunification can no longer be ignored by Western governments.The exodus of East Germans to the West and the escalating crisis in the communist government in East Germany show that the German Question grows in importance daily. Pretending, as some Western policy 18Western Proposal for the Reunification of Germany Through Free Elections, November 4,1955, in Documents on Gemany, op. cit p. 471 17 makers do, that German reunification is unimportant or does not require immediate action is short-sighted. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev could be considering a proposal to withdraw all foreign troops from both Germanies effectively promising the Germans reunification o n ly if U.S. and other allied forces leave West Germany. This would destroy NATO. It also would put the U.S. on the defensive because it could be welcomed by East Germans and by many West Germans too Pre~Empting Gorbachev.7leU.S. %annot affordto besurprised by a bold Gorbachev proposal on something as important as the future of Germany.

The U.S. needs a plan of its own that not only satisfies the national aspirations of Germans, but protects the security interests of the U.S. and other allied countries in Europe two extremes: complete division and full reunification. Complete division su rely is unacceptable to Germans. Full reunification with West Germany outside NATO certainly is unacceptable to the U.S Europe, arid the Soviet Union.

The U.S. should propose the creation of a German Confederation modeled on the European Parliament and con sisting of the territories of West and East Germany. West Germany should remain in NATO, while East Germany has two choices: one is to become a neutral zone within the German Confederation in which all Soviet troops are withdrawn; the other is to remain i n the Warsaw Pact, allowing a token Soviet troop contingent on its soil. If the Soviets cut their forces in East Germany, U.S. force levels in West Germany also would be greatly reduced, perhaps to token levels.

With open borders to the West, democratic in stitutions and free markets and close political ties with West Germany within the German Confederation, East Germany could evolve over time a Westem-style political and economic system much like that of West Germany and Austria.

Spreading Western Values. This solution to the German Question clearly would be in the interests of America and the West. It not only would preserve the basic structure of NATO, but it would serve as a wedge spreading the democratic and economic values of the Atlantic Community in t o Eastern Europe. An economically strong and democratic German Confederation could be a political and economic vanguard in Eastern Europe, developing ties with Hungary, Poland, and other emerging East European democracies that badly need Western assistanc e.

Germany as a whole, but no more so than exist for Austria, which endures some minor limitations on its defense policies under the 1955 Austrian State Treaty. Such limitations would be a small price to pay for the advent of democracy in East Germany, the opening of borders between East and West Germany, and the withdrawal of Soviet forces from East Germany. Like Austria, all of Germany in effect would become part of the West notwithstanding restrictions on security arrangements This solution to the Germa n problem should be a compromise between the This approach may impose some restrictions on the sovereignty of 18 I Paving The Way. Ultimately German reunification depends on actions taken in the Soviet Union and East Germany. Washington, however, should de v elop a stepby-step plan to reu* Germany on terms favorable to the West.The U.S. should consult with West Germany and its other European allies about the question of reunification, and call a NATO summit as soon as it can be arranged. George Bush should'ap p roach Mikhail Gorbachev to exchange views on Germany and to warn him against interfering in East Germany. The U.S. also should call for the creation of an All-German Commission on Inter-German Affairs to begin paving the way for negotiations on reunificat ion and to begin preparing plans for the U.S position in negotiations with the Germanies and the World War II Allies on a German PeaceTreaty.

Developing a long-term plan for Germany will be necessary if Washington wishes to play a role in shaping this new Europe.

Unique American Role. U.S. leadership thus is badly needed. No other NATO country can represent all Western interests in devising a plan for the reunification of Germany. Not Britain, which is distrustful of reunification.

Not France, which often strives to supplant the U.S. in Europe. Only America has the influence, prestige, and power to lead on this vital question The face of Europe is changing. At the heart of Europe is Germany Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D.

Director of Foreign Policy and Defense Studies I I The author is grateful to Michael Lind, Jay Kosminsky, Leon Aron, Douglas Seay, and Dennis Kilcoyne of The Heritage Foundation Foreign Poky and Defense Studies staff for their wntributions to this study.

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