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Thread: UK Documents Expose Thatcher's Virulent Opposition to German Reunification

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    UK Documents Expose Thatcher's Virulent Opposition to German Reunification

    As the 20th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall approaches, the British Foreign Office has released classified documents exposing the deep divisions between UK diplomats and former premier Margaret Thatcher over her virulent opposition to German reunification.

    It has long been known that Helmut Kohl, who was chancellor of West Germany in 1989, had a problematic relationship with Thatcher at that time. In his memoirs, he recalled one incident in the run up to reunification in 1990 during a dinner at which Thatcher famously commented: “We’ve beaten the Germans twice already, and now they’re back!”

    But the materials recently released by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) titled “German Unification 1989-1990” indicate the quite different attitude of several of her British colleagues, including her foreign secretary, Douglas Hurd, and the then British ambassador to Germany, Christopher Mallaby.

    The website of German news magazine Der Spiegelreported this week that a document in the collection, written by Mallaby on November 9, 1989, for example, recalled Hurd declaring that reunification was “in our own interest.”

    Whereas British diplomats were working behind the scenes to facilitate the peaceful transition of communist East Germany, they apparently were regularly perturbed by the Thatcher's unhidden opposition to reunification with West Germany.

    The newly published material is also makes reference to the reticence of then French President Francois Mitterand.

    Der Spiegel reported one account of a lunch at the Elysee Palace, at which the French president warned Thatcher that reunification would give Germany more influence than Hitler's state ever had and would mark a return of the “sinister Germans.”

    The FCO expressed satisfaction that the new material clears up previous misunderstandings about the British attitude in general at the time and adds to the historic understanding of events 20 years ago.

    "I welcome the publication of the full story of Britain’s role in German unification, thanks to the work of the FCO’s historians,” said British Minister for Europe, Baroness Kinnock, in a statement.

    “This collection is a tribute to the efforts of public servants and diplomats of all nations who helped to bring to a close the long years of division in Germany, and paved the way for the stability and security that we enjoy today in Europe."

    But the controversy over Thatcher's approach to reunification is likely to continue, with British daily newspaper The Times reporting on a transcript of conversation between the prime minister and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev showing the full degree to which she opposed the process.

    Copies of official Kremlin records, photocopied and brought to Britain from files at Gorbachev's personal foundation by journalist Pavel Storilov, document Thatcher's conversations on the matter. The comments appear to clarify the extent to which Thatcher opposed the official Western policy to move towards reunification.

    "We do not want a united Germany,” she said according to The Times.

    “This would lead to a change to postwar borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security,” she added.
    http://www.thelocal.de/national/20090911-21873.html

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    See also this thread as of yesterday:

    Thatcher Feared Nazi's Rise if Wall Fell
    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=128169

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    "We do not want a united Germany,” she said according to The Times.

    “This would lead to a change to postwar borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security,” she added.
    Cant let it be to temper with European mainland policy

    Quote Originally Posted by Thatcher
    We’ve beaten the Germans twice already, and now they’re back
    Nanah, who will be exuberant?
    A fair battle Germany vs Britain would have wiped off Britain from the maps
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

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    Quote Originally Posted by velvet View Post
    Nanah, who will be exuberant?
    A fair battle Germany vs Britain would have wiped off Britain from the maps

    No. It would wipe Germany off the map.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MCPThree View Post

    No. It would wipe Germany off the map.
    Unfortunately I would have to agree. Not because the Bundeswehr is not good, they are! It is just that since 1945 many germans worry more about their 6 weeks vacation than their martial abilities! Reminds me of a conversation between AH and one of his field marshals. AH - "What happened to the fighting spirit of Winterschlacht im Osten?" FM - "The fighting spirit was buried in Russland!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by MCPThree

    No. It would wipe Germany off the map.
    Today, yes.
    In 1940, Germany not against the world but only against Britain? I'm not so sure
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

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    Seapower vs Continental Power

    Quote Originally Posted by velvet View Post
    Today, yes.
    In 1940, Germany not against the world but only against Britain? I'm not so sure
    Even not in 1940, and isn't that a proved fact of history?
    There would have been a stalemate. Germany literally had no fleet and Britain had no army, when France was out.

    The problem here: Seapower vs continental power. Germany could have never defeated Britain (unless they had the atomic bomb) and Britain could not defeat Germany without the help of the US and the USSR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by velvet View Post
    Today, yes.
    In 1940, Germany not against the world but only against Britain? I'm not so sure
    I am not so good at what ifs.....but I think that if the German government had finished off the UK first before going after Russia I think it would have been a whole new "ball game.: However the German Luftwaffe was used as a political weapon against English Cities instead of military targets. Bad strategic move but not necessarily a move that Germany could not have recovered from. Besides America would not have gotten involved in Europe and there probably would have been some type of accomidation - you stay on your side of the atlantic and we will stay on our side....or something similar

    However I would not have met my wife and that is not worth contemplating!

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