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To What Extent were the Bavarian Authorities Responsible for the massacre at the 1972 Olympics?

The City of Munich has been host to many historical events, ranging from local importance, as it is the capital of Bavaria, to global significance during the nazi time period. While some events hosted in this city shaped the world such as the Munich conference in 1938, none were as devastating to the city itself as the massacre at the 1972 Olympics. While no physical damage was done to the city, the psychological damage remains 40 years later. Still many of those citizens remaining, are unwilling to talk about much of the events as they symbolise the disaster they turned the Olympics into. Sadly, amongst the younger population of particularly Munich, much has been forgotten about the massacre and some do not even know about its existence as this part of history is not taught in German schools. For the sake of this essay, the term “Bavarian Authorities” will cover all levels of bureaucracy involved including but not limited to the Munich Police, the Mayor’s office, the Bavarian Interior Ministry and all instances of the Bavarian Government. While Federal structures such as the Bundesgrenzschutz and Members of the West German Cabinet were involved and their roles in the Munich massacre will not be ignored, this Essay will focus primarily on the involvement and responsibility of regional and local authorities.

 On September 5th 1972 at approximately 4:30 AM, eight Palestinian terrorists, affiliated with the Black September movement, entered the Olympic village with the sole intent of kidnapping as many Israeli athletes as possible[1]. Armed with modified AK-47s, Tokarev Pistols and Grenades, the terrorists were capable of seizing and holding the apartment complex with ease[2]. After hearing scratching sounds at the door; Yossef Gutfreund, attempted to stop the Black September squad from entering apartment 1 and managed to buy his roommate Tuvia Sokolovsky enough time to escape through a window saving his life[3]. After being shot through the cheek, wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg another resident of apartment 1, was forced to show the terrorists the other rooms of the Israeli delegation. Even though there were Israelis in apartment 2, Weinberg managed to convince the terrorists to move on to apartment 3 where more athletes were taken hostage creating a total of nine hostages[4]. Following the demands of the terrorists, the German officials in Bonn tried to convince Tel Aviv to release 234 prisoners who were held in Israeli prisoners Israel however, was not willing to negotiate with the terrorists and gave the Germans full authority in the negotiations[5]. With Germany not able to meet Black September’s demands, they had little choice but to try to buy as much time in the hope of either convincing the terrorists of abandoning their plans or to launch a successful rescue operation. However, it soon became clear to all taking part in the negotiations, that it would not be possible to resolve the problem by convincing the terrorist leader known as Issa to divert from his orders[6]. Even in an unprecedented and desperate offer of exchanging the Israeli hostages for leading German politicians, the terrorists refused on the grounds that they had “no quarrel with Germany”[7]. Therefore, Germany was left with only the choice of mounting a rescue operation. The offer of flying the terrorists with their hostages to an Arab nation and resolving the deadlock there was out of the question. German officials were not willing to have Jews once again forcefully deported from Germany to await their (in this case potential) execution. After a failed rescue attempt and hours of negotiating, Terrorists and Officials agreed that the terrorists along with the hostages should be flown via helicopter to the Airbase Fürstenfeldbruck north of Munich. There, a fuelled Lufthansa Jet would be waiting to fly terrorists to an Arab nation of their choice. However, Bavarian authorities had put together a plan which would involve five snipers and six Munich police men disguised as flight crew inside the jet. The policemen were meant to ambush two of the terrorists who had agreed on inspecting the plane first while the snipers picked off the other two to three terrorists. However, it was not known until all the terrorists left the Olympic village, that there were in fact 8 terrorists in total[8]. Furthermore after evaluating the plan, the policemen came to the conclusion that the high chance of ricochets was too dangerous and that a hand grenade detonation would cause the fully fuelled jet to explode[9]. With their decision being final, the policemen refused to follow orders and abandoned their plan. Nevertheless, the Munich Police decided to go along with the rescue operation. Without well equipped and sufficient amounts of snipers, with the armoured cars stuck in traffic, the firefight between terrorists and Police lasted for over an hour. In the end, a grenade thrown by a terrorist blew up one helicopter and a second terrorist shot the remaining five hostages. The tragic statistic: 11 dead Israeli athletes, 5 Black September members, 1 German police officer and an injured sniper and helicopter pilot[10].

The issue of Responsibility on this topic is an incredibly complex one. On the one hand, individual responsibility has to be spread as many different individuals made terrible decision which led to the fatal outcome of the hostage taking. Some of these individuals remain anonymous up to this date. Others while making mistakes had valid reasons to act differently than what they should have done. However, overall none of the participants other than the terrorists had bad intentions. Therefore, instead of focusing on individual responsibility, Collective responsibility suits the situation far better. Overall, there are three major parties, Bavarian, Israeli and Black September, who each share a certain degree of responsibility. While focusing on the Bavarian aspect of this, one cannot accurately and fairly distribute blame without considering all the factors and involving all parties. However, the concept of intent when evaluating responsibility is just as important as the final actions of a participant or group. Due to this, poor decisions, mistakes and intent must be carefully analysed to conclude the extent of responsibility the Bavarian authorities should accept.

While the rescue mission itself was a failure, the overall failure was caused by several smaller mistakes. The first and most crucial one was that security forces at the Olympics were hardly in a position to stop an attack. Munich wanted to present itself as completely changed and in no way wanted to remind the world of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and hence the Nazi era[11]. Due to this, security guards were not armed and only given light blue uniforms and a walkie-talkie each[12]. They were trained to deal with small disputes between athletes, spectators and locals. The possibility of a hostage taking seemed so remote that while the stewards were told how to deal with teenagers laying siege on the Olympic village, the suggestion of training them for a hostage taking was rejected by officials as “too unlikely”[13]. However, it was this unpreparedness which allowed eight hostage takers, disguised as athletes, to enter the Olympic village by climbing over gate 25A, a two meter high fence, and bring blood to the games of peace.

Nevertheless, one should not forget that the organisers of the 20th summer Olympics were under considerable pressure to keep the Olympics from looking anything like the 1936 ones. Their main goal was to show themselves as better and truly changed. Furthermore, as Mark Spitz said, compared to the security at the previous summer Olympics in Mexico, the security in Munich was “rather good”. In his last press conference before returning to California, Spitz stated that people should remain realistic, in that there were 10000 athletes present in Munich and it was impossible to protect each and every one of them. He added that overall, the athletes themselves had considered the security to be sufficient. This shows that not only the organisers but everyone had thought a terrorist attack on athletes as impossible. Additionally, while negligence is a crime under most systems of law, morally speaking, negligence does not necessarily result in responsibility. As long as the Bavarians had the best intentions, they are not responsible on the same level as if their intentions had not been pure. However, a man who does not clear the sidewalk because he has to drive his kids to school, is still responsible when another man slips and breaks a leg on the ice forming on the sidewalk because he did not clear it. Nevertheless, a man is not necessarily responsible if the second man uses the negligence of the first, and slips on purpose in the hope of gaining a profit from it. In this case, the Bavarians had an insane amount of preparations to make, and were mainly not prepared for a large scale hostage taking as it had never happened at the Olympics before and it did not occur to them that it could.

The first major mistake during the hostage taking was that the Bavarians did not establish a clear chain of command. During such a situation, well trained police forces always establish clear chains of command in order to be able to buy as much time as possible. In an ideal case, while the negotiator has all the authority necessary to make statements on the behalf of the police, he can always legitimately claim that he does not have the authority to make a particular decision. Therefore, he can buy time by claiming to have to talk to his superior, and if necessary, the superior can also be directly involved because he too reports to a boss. While the general mistake in this part of the operation was the chain of command, two main missteps should be highlighted. Firstly, many different people negotiated with the terrorists; there was never a clear negotiator in charge. This would have eased the relationship between the police forces and the terrorists. Instead, the persons involved in the negotiations ranged from security guards who happened to be present at the time, to top German government officials. For example, while the choice of Annaliese Graes, a police women from the north of Germany, who had volunteered for the position of security guard at the games was not terrible, according to Simon Reeve, she was even perfect for the job. However, Graes had no affiliation with the authorities which were handling the operation. This only added to the chaos which was the Olympic village on the fifth of September. The second thing was that the Germans involved foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher who was at the top of the food chain when it came to law enforcement. Even though he was not capable of acting or making direct decisions due to the German Constitution, he was expected to be able to get things done. Therefore, once Genscher was involved, the terrorists knew that what Genscher promised must be truthful and possible as Genscher was in a position to get things done.

The first attempted rescue by the Munich Police Force was a complete and utter failure. Operation Sunshine involved border policemen which were sent onto rooftops with submachineguns. The border policemen, disguised as athletes in tracksuites, were to enter the apartment via its ventilation system and surprise the terrorists. What no one had considered was that everything happening at Connolly Straße was being recorded and shown live in TV. The terrorists, who were watching TV, saw the attempt by the police and some of them actually waved at policemen trying to hide. Eventually the attack was called off Perhaps it was for the best that this attempt failed in this particular fashion; the policemen were hopelessly outgunned and outmanned. Even with the element of surprise it would have been a high risk operation. Without any doubt the attack would have ended in bloodshed, predominantly on the side of the police.

The main reason why the Bavarian authorities can be blamed directly for the deaths of the Israeli athletes is that they mounted a rescue operation at Fürstenfeldbruck. It had failed mainly because the operation was poorly planned and executed without an essential part. The team of Munich policemen which were supposed to ambush the terrorists inside the jet refused to follow orders and left the plane. Furthermore, there were only five snipers armed with G3 assault rifles without any sort of telescopic scopes and or night vision. These rifles were the standard Bundeswehr infantry rifles and not suited for snipers at night. Additionally, the police neglected to equip the snipers with bulletproof vests or steel helmets. According to Ulrich Wegener, had the snipers been equipped with these, their confidence would have been significantly increased  which would have resulted in them taking more shots at the terrorists and taking more time to aim. To add to the list of fatal mistakes, the snipers had no way of communicating with each other and were not informed of the location of each other. They were simply told to find a good spot from where to shoot. Due to this, one of the snipers was directly in the line of fire of three of his colleagues. He fired only one single shot which killed one of the terrorists. After this, he was shot by a fellow sniper who mistook him as a terrorist. Even though he survived, it lowered the count of Police snipers to 4  which only increased the ratio of police to terrorists. In addition, three of the originally eight police snipers were left in the Olympic village. Whether the officials thought they would not be needed or whether they were simply forgotten has never been answered. Despite this, five snipers may have sufficed if they had been told where the helicopters would land. Due to this, none of the snipers had a clear shot into the helicopters.

Nonetheless, to fully understand the failure at Fürstenfeldbruck, one must understand the local politics and the history of Bavaria and Germany as a whole. Firstly, while the Olympic games were officially given to the city of Munich as a representative of West Germany, one must realize that Munich primarily represents Bavaria and not Germany. Joining the German Reich under the threat of common enemies during the “Einigungskriege” in the 19th century, Bavaria was never eager to be part of Prussia’s empire. In fact, the only shared history between Bavaria and Prussia were countless wars between the two Kingdoms and the Franco-Prussian war and two World Wars. Additionally, Bavaria has more in common with southern nations such as Austria or north Italy than Prussia, historically and culturally. While such differences may appear petty, still today this divide remains; one and a half centuries after the German Unification. While Bavaria is primarily Catholic, areas north remain Protestant. While all major political parties in Germany are national, Bavaria has been governed by the CSU for almost 60 years which only appoints candidates in Bavaria. It is exactly in these local politics where documentaries such as “Seconds From Disaster” produced by the National Geographic find their fatal flaws. Without any understanding of the culture and history of the area, the documentary claims that there were three main decision makers present during the Munich massacre on the side of the Authorities; Manfred Schreiber, Bruno Merk and Hans-Dietrich Genscher. However, both Manfred Schreiber and Bruno Merk were born in traditional Bavarian towns and both were wounded during World War Two. Genscher on the other hand, was from a northern German town and part of the German federal system. Therefore, to claim that Genscher had any authority in the response committee is not only ill researched but ignorant. Genscher was part of this committee as a liaison to Bonn and perhaps to give advice, but those giving the final orders and making the decisions were Schreiber and Merk. The primary reason for this was that Genscher was the West German Interior minister and Merk and Schreiber represented the State Authorities. The German Federal System and Constitution prohibits a national governmental institution to interfere in a state’s interior affairs in a situation such as the Olympic Games. While this particular example is of minor importance, it shows the mentality of the Bavarians. Munich citizens and Bavarians saw the Games as “their Games” and wanted to protect them as their own. They felt responsible for the hostage taking and felt it was their duty to rescue them. It was for exactly this reason why outside help was rejected. For example, ever since the 5th of September, Israeli Generals Dayan and Zamir have claimed that after being sent to Munich to assist the authorities with their expertise, they were utterly ignored by the Bavarians. Additionally, the Israeli counter terrorist team “The Unit” was to be sent to Munich to rescue the hostages but were never given orders to leave due to a German rejection. Both German and Bavarian officials have denied any knowledge of such a team ever being offered by the Israelis.

While the Bavarians made mistakes in crucial parts of their planning, it cannot be doubted that their intentions were good. They simply did not want Jewish blood to be shed once again on German soil and tried literally everything they could. Unlimited amounts of money and a replacement of the Israeli athletes with high ranking German officials were both not accepted as possible solutions of the conflict which left them with little choice but to act. However, even the purest of intentions and the impudent abuse of German hospitality cannot rid the Bavarians of the responsibility surrounding their catastrophic failure in Fürstenfeldbruck. The disaster was simply too great to grant the officials involved immunity from all possible charges.

Therefore, while the terrorists are undoubtedly to blame for the deaths of the Israeli athletes, the Bavarian authorities and their countless mistakes have a certain degree of responsibility. This responsibility was sadly never fully accepted by the Bavarian authorities and the Munich police. For almost forty years now, denial and poor excuses have shaped the face of official statements. Instead of simply admitting mistakes, time after time legal battles with the families of the athletes have been fought. Nevertheless, the Israeli government with their policy of not negotiating with terrorists did not make it easy for the Bavarians and effectively removed any sorts of peaceful negotiations. Therefore, they too should not be left untouched when responsibility of the deaths is divided as they too played a major role in the bloodshed. Nevertheless, many people have since criticised that if there had been a counter terrorist squad in Germany at the time, things would have ended differently. However in 1972 before the 5th of September, there had simply not been the necessity for such a squad. After the Olympics, when everyone in Germany realised that the world had changed and the normal police was no longer capable of handling every one of its duties, two units were created. The GSG9, an elite counter terrorist unit under the leadership of Ulrich Wegener, a German general who was chief advisor to Hans-Dietrich Genscher and was present during the fiasco at the Olympics, was founded on the 26th of September, not two months after the massacre. While the GSG9 is considered to be one of the best Counter Terrorist units of the world and widely known for its success on a Hostage rescue in Mogadishu in 1977, the less known but far more important SEK or Sonder Einsatz Kommando was founded at the same time as the GSG9. The SEK was intended to be Germany’s version of SWAT, and was made up of above average police officers whose only duties were to the SEK. These units mainly deal with hostage takings, organised crime and other dangerous police duties. Nowadays, each LKA or Landes Kriminal Amt has at least one SEK at their disposal. Hence, while being responsible for the deaths of the hostages due to their incapability to rescue them, they showed good intentions during and after the event by attempting to solve the situation by any means other than violence and learning from their mistakes and unpreparedness.


Broder, Henryk M. "Olympia-Massaker 1972: Die Schwierige Erinnerung - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Panorama." SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten. Der Spiegel, 06 Sept. 2007. Web. 18 Aug. 2011. .

Reeve, Simon. One Day in September: the Full Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and the Israeli Revenge Operation "Wrath of God" New York: Arcade, 2000. Print.

Mayer, Iris. "Olympia-Attentat: Das Massaker Von München - Olympia-Attentat." FOCUS Online - Nachrichten. Focus, 4 Sept. 2007. Web. 18 Aug. 2011. .

"Olympische Spiele 1972: München Und Das Attentat | Gesellschaft | Kultur | BR." BR-online | Homepage Des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Bayrischer Rundfunk, 23 Apr. 2008. Web. 18 Aug. 2011. .

International Herald Tribune

Süddeutsche Zeitung

In which way did Ostpolitik provide a change in West German foreign policy in regards to East Germany?

A  Plan of the investigation

 This investigation seeks to evaluate the change in West German foreign policy in the period from 1969 to 1974 analysing the central document of the West German policy in regards to East Germany, the Basic Treaty of 1972, and in particular Heinrich August Winkler’s interpretation of Ostpolitik in his study “Germany. The Long Road West.  Volume 2: 1933-1990”.  Following Winkler’s analysis, this investigation will focus on the political aspect and the international policy at that time.[1] In B, the main source will be put in the broader context of German foreign policy since 1955 and the other main treaties of Ostpolitik presenting in which way Brandt’s new approach constituted a dramatic change in Germany’s foreign policy. After the evaluation of the Treaty and Winkler’s broader interpretation of Ostpolitk in part C, they will be analysed in part D under the focus of the importance of US foreign policy for the Ostpolitik leading to a conclusion of the central question in E.
B  Summary of evidence
The dramatic change of German foreign policy in the period from 1969-1974 can only be understood in the context of German foreign policy since 1955 when West Germany officially became a sovereign state and the main doctrine of West German policy, the Hallstein Doctrine, was formulated. It declared that “every country which has diplomatic relations with the GDR will not be allowed to have diplomatic relations with the FRG”[2]. West Germany was regarded as the only legitimate state presenting Germany as a whole.[3] Proving successful in 1957, when West Germany cut off its ties with Yugoslavia who had officially recognised East Germany as a separate state, East Germany was forced to tie its alignment with the USSR. But there was another side to the Hallstein Doctrine, which prevented an open policy towards other East European states.[4] The Warsaw Pact states had recognised the GDR in 1949-50 and therefore West Germany was refrained from establishing diplomatic relations with those countries.
In the meantime during the 1960s, the relations between the two superpowers had changed. After the Berlin crises in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy started to promote a new approach in US foreign policy towards the USSR looking for a way of cooperation. In a speech at the American University of Washington in June 1963, Kennedy emphasised to look for a strategy of peace between the USA and the USSR. The leading opposition party of West Germany, the Social Democrats, who opposed the Hallstein Doctrine, developed a new foreign policy concept  “Change through Rapprochement”[5]. It sought to recognise East Germany as a sovereign state by putting aside the idea of German unification for the near future.[6] The main idea was that changes in East Germany could only be made in a long term through numerous little steps which were necessary for the reunification of both German states emphasising on stronger cooperation with the goal of dismantling the status quo in the long run.
This concept became a political reality after Brandt had been elected Chancellor in 1969. He immediately began talks with leaders from East Germany and East European countries meeting with the East German prime-minister Willi Stoph. These talks were the first direct talks between top German politicians since 1948 taking place in West and East Germany in 1970. Even so Brandt refused to recognise East Germany as a sovereign state, communication lines were opened. 
After policy goals were made with the United States, Brandt entered negotiations with the USSR in which both countries renounced the use of force. The FRG agreed to make no territorial claims recognising the borders in Eastern Europe.[7] TheTreaty with Moscow was the first treaty of the Ostpolitik signed on August 12th 1970. It followed the Warsaw Treaty four month later with a similar content towards Poland. This policy was backed by the USA who had started negotiations about the status of Berlin leading to the Agreement on Berlin on 3rd September 1971 with France, England and the USSR, marking a relaxation of tension in East-West relations, in particular since it guaranteed civil communications between West Berlin and the FRG[8]. It was the Treaty with East Berlin (Basic Treaty) however that proved to be the central and controversial document of Ostpolitik.[9]  Both states had committed themselves in the treaty to develop normal relations on the basis of equality. Recognising each other’s independence and sovereignty as well as territorial integrity, both sides agreed to exchange permanent missions in Bonn and East Berlin avoiding the pivotal question of German unification.  Brandt faced tough opposition. Many of his conservative critics feared that by neglecting the goal of unification he was selling out to the Communists.[10] When West and East Germany became members of the UN in 1973, the new reality of two German states had become a fact. West Germany had lost his right to be the only sovereign speaking for Germany as a whole and therefore the Hallstein Doctrine was abolished. This new policy of direct talks, negotiations and treaties with the USSR, Poland and GDR and later on with Czechoslovakia in December 1973 was backed by the USA.[11] In this regard, Brandt’s approach “Change though Rapprochement” led from a foreign policy of isolation of the GDR to a policy of cooperation and legal recognition overcoming the Cold War situation between the two German states which had dominated their relation under the Hallstein Doctrine.

C Evaluation of the sources
The Basic treaty was the most controversial of all treaties signed during Ostpolitik and has to be seen in the context of the other treaties. Its purpose was to regulate the relationship between the two Germanys on a mutual agreement that would make it possible to facilitate regulations concerning the improvement of having economical, cultural and political exchanges with de facto recognition to the GDR. Instead of embassies permanent legations were opened in both German states as it was stressed in supplementary text leading the way open to a later reunification.[12] Its value lies in the fact that numerous improvements followed the treaty such as the “Besucherregelung”, which allowed West German Citizens to visit East Germany and also facilitated family reunions for East German Citizens aged over 60 years to travel to West Germany. However, the limitation lied in the unresolved question of German unity leading to the concept of two German states within one German nation. East Germany stressed the idea that it had become a sovereign state, while West Germany continued to claim that the German question was not resolved finally.
Winkler’s[13] leading question is, why Germany, much later than Great Britain and France, became a national state and even later a democracy. It is under this perspective that he focuses on the Ostpolitik.  His two volumes of Germany.The Long Road West  which were published 10 years after the German reunification are a major source for modern German history. The value of this book is that Winkler argues clearly under a central question, leaving room for critical remarks. He analysis the Ostpolitik  in the second volume (279-290 and 296-314) mainly in the context of international politics rejecting the idea that it was mainly a European or German question. Arguing this way, Winkler is convinced that external factors dominated German foreign policy at that time and that the Ostpolitik was not a reaction to the changes within the German society.[14]  
The purpose of this source is the argument that Ostpolitik lead to a new political reality in Germany and Europe. By recognising the political sovereignty, both German states became more independent in their political decisions and it seemed a new reality had come true: a Europe with two German states. Winkler focuses on the importance of the US foreign policy under Kennedy and Nixon to show that Ostpolitik depended heavenly on the changes of US foreign policy.[15] In this regard Ostpolitik has to be studied mainly in the context of international politics rather than in the context of German or European history. The limitation of Winkler’s analysis may lie in a too one sided focus on US policy as the main factor of the Ostpolitik. Historians like Jürgen Kocka strengthen the point that the events of 1989 and in that regard the Ostpolitik should be seen in the context of historical continuities in European history.[16] Winkler’s point of view is linked to his conviction that the Western Alliance under the guidance of the USA is the best solution to the German question leaving little room for alternative analysis of the Ostpolitik in the framework of a European history.[17]

D  Analysis

The dramatic changes of German foreign policy from 1969-1974 have to be put into the context of the German foreign policy since 1955. The Hallstein Doctrine was a typical approach of foreign policy during the first period of the Cold War until the Berlin and Cuba Missile Crises. Germany and Berlin which had been the major battleground of the Cold War in Europe were the division line between West and East. Adenauer’s intention was clear from the beginning: integration of FRG into the Western world renouncing to the immediate reunification of Germany. The changes of international politics in particular of the US administration under President Kennedy made this policy unreasonable.[18] In this context a new approach of German foreign policy could be formulated. The new concept “Change through Rapprochement” reflected much better the intentions of the Kennedy administration than the Hallstein Doctrine.
There is no serious disagreement about the fact that “Challenge through Rapprochement” abolished the Hallstein Doctrine. Even revisionist historians like Hillgruber during the period before the German Reunification did not put this fact into question.[19]
Concerning the question in which way it came to this change in German foreign policy, many historians in recent years emphasise on the external factors. While Winkler strongly focuses on Kennedy’s state visit to Germany in 1963[20] emphasising the importance of US foreign policy during the whole period of the Ostpolitik, historians like Görtemaker argue that Ostpolitik became an engine of change in 1970 and has to be seen from that year on in the context of European policy. The immediate impact was not only the improvement of inner German relations but that this policy resulted directly in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe beginning in November 1972 and ending in August 1975.[21] Ostpolitik  in that regard developed much more into a European policy leading to the Helsinki agreement giving space for human right activists in East Europe.[22]
The Ostpolitik overcame the Cold War mentality between the two German states, but did not resolved in any way the German question. This policy was in the interest of the US foreign policy and in this regard is as much their product as a new approach by Chancellor Brandt.[23] It was in both interests that the Hallstein Doctrine was abolished leading to a policy of cooperation between the two German states.

E  Conclusion

When it comes to the question in which way Ostpolitik provided a change in West German foreign policy in regards to East Germany, the answer seems to be clear. The improving relations between the two German states following the Ostpolitik and the Basic Treaty overcame years of a non dialogue between the two German sides and little improvements for family affairs and visiting rights took place.  It helped to overcome the Cold War mentality. “Change through Rapprochement” was therefore a dramatic change in the way that German foreign policy towards Eastern Europe focused on dialogue instead of isolating the GDR. The Basic treaty recognised the existence of two German states and made therefore an end to the Hallstein Doctrine. Winkler’s analysis supports this idea by making clear that Ostpolitik opened a new chapter of dialogue between the two German states. By putting the Ostpolitk in the context of American foreign policy, Winkler makes clear, that West German foreign policy depended heavily on American policy.

Words: 2000

F  List of sources
Bahr, Egon,  "Wandel durch Annäherung" ["Change through Rapprochement"], speech 
   delivered on July 15, 1963, at the Evangelical Academy in Tutzing
  (http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-  dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=81)
Berger, Stefan, Historians and nation-building in Germany after reunification, August 1995
Deutsch-Polnisches Jahrbuch 2005. Polish-German Annual 13/2005.
Görtemaker, Manfred. 1994. Entspannung und Neue Ostpolitik (Détente and New Ostpolitik),
   in: Informationen zur politischen Bildung, 4.Quartal 1994, S.34-41. (Informations about   
   political education. 1.Quarter 1994, 34-41).
Görtemaker, Manfred. 1994. Vom Kalten Krieg zur Ära der  Entspannung. (From the Cold
   War to the policy of detente),  in: Informationen zur politischen Bildung, 4.Quartal 1994,
   S.26-33). (Informations about  political  education. 1.Quarter 1994,
Grundlagenvertrag zwischen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der DDR, 21.Dezember
   1972, in: Informationen zur politischen Bildung 4.Quartal 1994, p.39. (The Basic Treaty, in:
    Informations about  political  education. 1.Quarter 1994).
Hillgruber, Andreas. 1980. Deutsche Geschichte 1945-1975. Die deutsche Frage in der
   Weltpolitik. Frankfurt-Berlin-Wien. (German history 1945-1975. The German question in
   the perspective of world history. Frankfurt-Berlin-Vienna 1980).
Le Quintrec, Guillaume und Peter Geiss. 2006. Histoire/Geschichte.  Europa und die Welt
   seit 1945. Leipzig (Guillaume Le Quintrec and Peter Geiss, History. Europe and the World
   since 1945. Leipzig 2006).
Löwenthal, Richard. 1974. Vom Kalten Krieg zur Ostpolitik, in: Die zweite Republik. 25 Jahre
   Bundesrepublik Deutschland – eine Bilanz, hrsg. Von Richard Löwenthal und Hans- Peter
   Schwarz. Stuttgart. (From the cold war to the Ostpolitik. The Second Republic. 25 years
   history of the German Federal Republic – a resume. Edited by Richard Löwenthal and
   Peter Schwarz, Stuttgart 1974).
Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin  - Berlin 3 September 1971 (http://www.ena.lu)
Schöllgen, Gregor. 2001. Willy Brandt. Die Biographie.  Berlin/München 2001. (Willy Brandt,
   the biography. Berlin/Munich 2001).
Weber, Jürgen/Pfändtner, Bernhard. 1995. Vom Zweiten Weltkrieg bis zur Gegenwart,
   Bamberg. (From the Second World War to the Present, Bamberg 1995).
Winkler, Heinrich August. 2000. Der lange Weg nach Westen, Zweiter Band, Deutsche
   Geschichte  vom „Dritten Reich“ bis zur Wiedervereinigung. München 2000. (Germany.
   The Long Road West. Volume 2: 1933-1990, Oxford University Press.)  

[1] This focus is justified by the leading question and the purpose of this investigation. To take other aspects into consideration such as economic or social aspects of the question would go to far. [2] Winkler, 181 [3] In this regard it was impossible to hold any talks with the East German government. Chancellor Adenauer wanted to prevent international recognition of East Germany as a separate state accepting the fact that West Germany could not establish diplomatic relations to those communist countries which had officially recognised East Germany as a separate state. Winkler,181. [4] Löwenthal, 691. [5] This new approach was first formulated  on the 15th July 1963, when Egon Bahr, a leading Social Democrat and an adviser of Willy Brandt gave a lecture at the Protestant Academy in Tutzing, which was called „Change through  Rapprochement“. [6] Schöllgen, 171. [7] FRG negotiators, however, insisted that such agreements did not alter the West German position on future reunification of the country and that the responsibilities of the Four Powers in Germany remained unchanged by the treaty. [8] Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin. [9] Winkler, 312. [10]  To cite one example, Bavaria filed a suit in the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to prevent the treaty's implementation, but the court held the treaty to be compatible with the provisions of the Basic Law. Winkler, 313. [11] Winkler emphasises on this point. Without the consent of the Nixon administration, so Winkler, the Ostpolitik would not have been possible. Winkler, 285. [12] Weber/Pfändtner, 262. [13] Heinrich August Winkler is a Professor of Contemporary History at the Humboldt University in Berlin since 1991. He has also been a German Kennedy Memorial Fellow at Harvard University; a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.; a fellow of Berlin’s Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg), a guest of the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris, and the Institute for Advanced Historical Studies in Munich (Historisches Kolleg München).  [14] In this context Weber/Pfändtner argue that Brandt started his talks with the East German government without the consent of the four Allies. Weber/Pfändnter, 261. [15] However, there are many other historians, such as Hans Ulrich Wehler who don’t focus as much on the policy of the US, but more on German policy as they see outer circumstances as not so important when it comes to Ostpolitik. [16] Stefan Berger, 17. [17] Such an approach can be found in the articles of the Deutsch-Polnisches Jahrbuch 2005. The articles in this volume treat the Ostpolitik as a European question. [18] Winkler, 217. [19] Hillgruber, 178. [20] Winkler 216-217. [21] Görtemaker, 37. [22] This discussion is going on depending on the political conviction of the historians. Historians like Winkler are convinced that German foreign policy depends on US foreign policy, while historians like Görtemaker emphasize more the European context of German foreign policy since the Ostpolitk. [23] It is therefore that Winkler is cautious about the impact of this policy on the later German reunification. At the end of his book, Winkler writes that during the 1980s the idea of a reunified German state was out of sight Winkler, 652.

The Abdication of Willy Brandt
How far did the scandal around Günter Guillaume contribute to Willy Brandt’s abdication from the position as chancellor in 1974?


Imagine a John le Carré type book: During the midst of the Cold War, East- Germany (DDR) is able to infiltrate West- Germany’s (FRG) government. An East- German spy works himself through the political hierarchy ending up as one of the chancellor’s chief advisors. During the late sixties and early seventies when the Western- Allies rely on the FRG to stabilize relations with the East the government is in fact being advised by a spy. This story is however not a work of fiction but rather the reality during Willy Brandt’s time as chancellor. Brandt was one of Germany’s most prominent chancellors who was known nationally and internationally for his recognition of Germany’s borders, the Oder- Neiße Grenze, and for his “Ostpolitik”, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet his chancellorship came to an abrupt halt in 1974 during the midst of his second legislative period.[1] For the German population, Willy Brandt was a politician who followed a clear goal and did not manoeuvre his agenda from one problem to the next.[2] On top of that many saw him as a new beginning as he was the first politician to be elected after the Second World War who was part of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and not the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) which had ruled since 1949. [3]  For many, he represented what Le Monde was able to sum up in one sentence: “Willy Brandt remained for a long time the archetype of political modernity, the opposite of yesterday’s Europe”.[4] Although he polarised and split the German population like no other, he was able, with the help of his party, to receive the most mandates that the SPD would ever receive during a popular election in their entire history.[5] In 1974 however, Brandt abdicated after it was said that he tripped over the East- German Spy Günter Guillaume who was exposed after one year of investigations against him.[6] Recent historians such as Hermann Schreiber are however moving away from this thesis, arguing that it was placed in the foreground to preserve the idealised image of Brandt in Germany and that in fact, other issues motivated Brandt to abdicate.[7] These alternating views lead to the research question: “How far did the scandal around Günter Guillaume contribute to Willy Brandt’s abdication from the position as chancellor in 1974?” With the newly available information, it appears that far from being the strong leader who enabled Germany’s fresh start it seems like he was a broken man who suffered depressions which restricted him from fulfilling his job as chancellor. With all of these other factors to consider the story no longer seems to be as simple as a spy novel but now seems like a complex political drama. These ideas show the true significance of the investigation as it will examine if Brandt can be seen as the role model which he presents today. This becomes a pressing issue when considering that even today Brandt’s weaknesses and mistakes are often ignored, and only his role as a visionary in German politics is highlighted.[8] As Brandt’s resignation is no longer attributed to the Guillaume affair, new reasons have to be found which mainly lay within what is today considered weak leadership style but also his bad shape in regards to his physical but also mental health. In order to thoroughly examine the reasons for his abdication, a wide variety of sources will be considered ranging from statement’s given by his former employee’s, podcasts, historical analysis of his abdication but also interviews with current members of the SPD. This will ultimately help argue that Willy Brandt abdicated due to his political and personal weakness in 1974, however, using the Guillaume Affair as an opportunity to swiftly end his career as German chancellor.                                                                       

The Guillaume Affair

Introduction to Günter Guillaume

Günter Guillaume was responsible for the most significant political scandal in Germany, and many, such as Bernd Faulenbach writing in 2013, have argued that it caused Brandt to abdicate.[9] In 1956 Guillaume and his wife migrated to West- Germany from the East with the mission to spy and collect information on the political system.[10] Working himself through the ranks of the SPD in Germany ending up as one of Brandt’s chief advisors in 1969. He established his position in the SPD by organising the extremely successful election campaign in 1972 which enabled Brandt to consolidate his power.[11] It took the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), acting as the domestic security agency, one year to expose the East- German spy, during which Guillaume kept working as usual without any restrictions. After visiting the Willy Brandt Museum, located in central Berlin, it was found that this ignores Brandt’s abdication altogether, attempting to preserve his image, with the exception of one sentence prescribing his abdication purely to the Guillaume affair. (Photo of the relevant section in the museum is presented in the Appendix). Once the scandal was made public in 1974, Brandt abdicated, naming Guillaume as the sole reason for his abdication.[12]

The Role of Guillaume in Norway

Although Brandt never saw Guillaume as a friend or even as anybody who he would necessarily want to spend time with, he accompanied Brandt on his summer holidays to Norway in July 1973. Thomas Ramge argues that this joint vacation was unusually scandalous as the BfV was already suspicious of Guillaume being a spy and Brandt was informed about these suspicions before the holidays in May 1973, and yet he was taken.[13] What is however ignored is that this was part of the strategy to convict Guillaume as he was supposed to be caught red-handed. The BfV of the most important secret services in Germany, however, did not think it necessary to observe Guillaume in Norway as they were of the opinion that nothing significant concerning their investigation would happen, in the remote areas of Norway.[14] Quite the opposite was however the case as during the holidays 49 documents including eleven, which were labelled secret went through the hands of Guillaume.[15] Most of these contained specific information about the stressed relations between America and another NATO partner which Hélène Miard- Delacroix explains were of particular interest to East- Germany but especially the Soviet Union.[16] Guido Knopp argues that Brandt was simply careless to allow Guillaume to handle all information sent to him in Norway and information sent to Germany from Norway even though he was aware of the suspicions against the possible spy.[17] Knopp is often criticised for his novel like recollections of events however his deductions are all based on historical facts making him a credible historian to consider. In a Der Spiegel article published immediately after Brandt’s abdication, the reasons for his decision are exclusively tied to Guillaume.[18] This view is supported by the German politician Wolfgang Clement who argues that especially the fact that Guillaume was able to view all documents concerning Brandt in Norway escalated the scandal and caused Brandt to abdicate in 1974.[19] Clement, however, sees most of the fault on the BfV’s side arguing that they should have been more efficient in uncovering Guillaume’s true identity. The problem with Clement here is that he worked under Brandt and is a member of the SPD thus making him bias in respect to the question whose fault it was that Guillaume could work so freely in Norway and all the way up to his exposure. With the benefit of hindsight, historians have moved away from the thesis that Guillaume’s presence in Norway caused Brandt to abdicate now searching for the reasons in Brandt’s personal life. The historian Eckard Michels goes a step further in arguing that the Norway holidays should not have contributed to the abdication at all. He explains this by pointing out that although Guillaume had made copies of most of the documents distributed in Norway, including those labelled secret, he did not pass any of them on to the East- German government. This information however only surfaced after the fall of the Berlin Wall and access to the archives was granted. With the opening of the archives, it was found that the information Guillaume had provided the East with had been very limited and were not used extensively.[20] The embarrassment that came with employing an East German spy, as one of Brandt’s chief advisors, and him knowing about the suspicions against the spy for about a year and not reacting to them caused Brandt to consider an abdication from chancellorship. 

Guillaume’s involvement in Brandt’s Sex Affairs

As part of the investigations lead by the BfV it was discovered that Guillaume had also done Brandt personal favours on election campaign tours such as introducing women to him which ended in multiple sex affairs evolving around Brandt. The German historian Edgar Wolfrum argues that the fear of these affairs being used as a way to campaign against Brandt and to blackmail Brandt inspired enough fear in him to abdicate.[21] This fear was however not only apparent in Brandt but also in his party colleagues such as Herbert Wehner who feared that these could be used in the upcoming elections as a way to form a campaign against Brandt and the SPD as a whole. Once Wehner was informed about the affairs Brandt had and in which Guillaume had played such a crucial role he believed that Brandt could remain in the position of chancellor no longer.[22] Martin Rupps highlights that Brandt’s support from within his party decreased drastically after the extent of Guillaume’s involvement in Brandt’s personal life was publicised. This was as they were unsure of how the public would handle the scandal in respect to Guillaume being a spy but also to him finding out about the affairs.[23] Wiebke Bruhns a reporter at the time for the Südwestrundfunk, however, disagrees that Brandt abdicated due to the information Guillaume had collected about his affairs. She argues that “We all knew about Ihlefeld”. Ihlefeld being a reporter for Stern magazine and one of the figures who had an affair with Brandt.[24] Bruhns continues by arguing that affairs at the time were not as openly discussed as they are today.[25]  This shows that Brandt’s affairs were known throughout news organs and even in the public however simply not discussed indicating that the opposition could not have made much use of them to create a media offensive against Brandt.[26] The fear that Brandt’s personal life would be uncovered in the media and pulled through the dirt however inevitably increased his fear of remaining chancellor.

Weakening of his Political Position

Lacking Support from within the SPD

Behind all this was the continuing challenge faced by an increasingly assertive and fractious party. There have been a lot of speculation about the role that Herbert Wehner had leading up to the abdication of Brandt.[27] Wehner being president of the ministry for inner-German affairs together with Brandt, and Helmut Schmidt formed a so-called troika within the SPD.[28] Nearing the end of Brandt’s rule, increasing pressure was put on him by people in his immediate circle and outside of it. Egon Bahr, one of Brandt’s closest party friends, argues that Wehner’s remark to German journalists during a trip to Moscow in 1973, during which he stated: “The chancellor enjoys taking his baths lukewarm with foam bubbles” was the final aspect which made Brandt consider abdicating.[29] Additionally, Wehner had stated that he is “lost in reverie” and has become more and more “droopy” clearly attacking Brandt and his policies at the time.[30] Instead of parting from Wehner however, Brandt let the statement go and continued working together with Wehner as usual. Hermann Schreiber argues that this was when Brandt showed first signs of weaknesses as he did not part from Wehner who actively worked against him.[31] Bahr goes a step further in arguing that Brandt could have survived the Guillaume affair if he had parted from Wehner in 1973.[32] It has to be considered that Bahr was one of Brandt’s only close friends and never put any fault on him rather looking for scapegoats such as Wehner. His thesis is however widely accepted and supported by Albrecht Müller who argues that as one of the key figures in the SPD criticised Brandt so openly he was left doubting if he still had the support of his party which he needed to rule Germany.[33] Considering that one of the other crucial figures in the SPD did not actively support Brandt in the direct aftermath of the Guillaume Affair caused him to question his authority. This eventually resulted Brandt to conclude that he no longer had the necessary support to continue ruling Germany.

The Trade Unions Devastating Effect on Brandt’s Popularity

A further problem which Brandt faced in 1974 was the rising protests organised by German trade unions. One of their key requests at the time was that all people employed in public services especially people who were part of the transport sector were granted a 15% increase in their wages.[34] The public sector trade unions were however not the only ones asking for more money in 1974 as the German postal trade union also requested 15% higher wages and the German employees trade union requested 14% higher wages.[35] After three days of strikes during which most workers across West- Germany, employed in these sectors, put down their work Willy Brandt granted German workers 11% more wages which were a minimum of about 170 Marks more per person at the time.[36] The author of Brandt’s speeches, Klaus Harpprecht, at the time wrote in Manager Magazine that: “Nobody had undermined the authority of Willy Brandt’s government more than the trade unions with their request for a 15% pay raise.”[37] He claims that these requests were the beginning of an end to the chancellorship of Brandt.[38] Harpprecht’s argument is limited by the fact that the cost of living was increasing and such increases in wages would have inevitably been pressed for. Harpprecht’s view is however shared by Peter Gillies who argues that the strikes knocked Brandt from his feet and ensured that he would never be able to get up again.[39] Although Gillies is not a historian, his argument is valuable as he can evaluate the disputes between the government and the trade unions from an economic standpoint allowing him to understand the true extent of the requests made by the trade unions. The trade union, Verdi, even today oppose the argument that they caused Brandt’s abdication vehemently. They have in fact published a statement in which they debunk the claims.[40] Here they bring up the point that Heinz Klunker, who was the leader of the trade unions and lead the campaign for higher wages at the time, always admired Willy Brandt and that they were even on a friendly basis on some occasions.[41] This would indicate that he would never undermine the authority of a friend as Harpprecht and Gillies suggest. A problem with the statement published by the trade unions is that it oversimplifies the events. Not only does Verdi argue that they didn’t cause Brandt’s abdication however they also state that “the real reason for Brandt’s abdication can be read in every book on Germany’s history and is Günter Guillaume.”[42] This blatantly oversimplifies the reasons for his abdication as so many other aspects played a role and calls into question how well researched the statement is. Karl Führer argues that Brandt felt the backlash of giving in to the trade unions just weeks later when the SPD lost 10,4% of all its votes compared to the previous elections in the federal state of Hamburg.[43] This argument is however limited by the fact that other aspects played a role in the loss of mandates as well however these are simply ignored. At the same time, however, the CDU, the main opposition party, who had always opposed the requests for higher wages by the labour unions, gained 7,8%.[44] After having to give in to the labour unions Willy Brandt even stated in front of the Cabinet: “Am I the boss of a bankrupt company? I will have to ask myself if I can carry the consequences much longer?” Cabinet members at the time remember that they had often encountered Brandt to talk like this however he had never been this tired of his job.[45] This clearly shows that the requests made by the trade unions significantly weakened Brandt’s position and inevitably lost him support from party members and the general public.

Weakening of his Physical and Mental Health

The Impact of Sicknesses on his Physical Shape

Brandt had first signs of sicknesses and weakness after the SPD election campaign in 1972.[46] After the elections in 1972, Brandt was able to consolidate his power, the SPD gaining 3,1% to get their best result in their history of 46,7%. However, the cost of these elections was his health.[47] During the campaign, he travelled 25,000km through Germany to hold speeches and attend campaign events. He travelled six weeks previous to the campaign and spoke for between five and eight hours each day.[48] The lengthiness of his speeches and the amount he gave during this campaign lead to him having surgery on his vocal cords immediately afterwards. During this surgery a tumour was discovered, and Brandt was lucky that it was benign. As a result of this Brandt missed all coalition talks which were held after the elections and his representatives Wehner and Schmidt formed the government according to their likes not considering Brandt’s wishes.[49] Schreiber argues that Schmidt and Wehner did not only ignore Brandt’s wishes but that they actively went against them undermining his authority.[50] He continues by pointing out that Brandt did not speak out about this as he felt it tactless to criticise his party members and he did not have the energy to question their actions once again showing weakness similarly to when Wehner had attacked him in Moscow.[51] In the following years, Brandt was never able to fully recover, always having respiratory problems and stomach issues. On the first of May 1974, between Guillaume’s arrest and Brandt’s abdication, Brandt had written in his diaries that he had dark thoughts and that he had even written a letter. It is commonly assumed that his dark thoughts referred to him abdicating and that the letter was a reference to his letter of resignation which he had written to Gustav Heinemann, president of Germany at that time. Arnulf Baring who had in fact interviewed Brandt on this section in his diaries argues that Brandt had actually referenced his considerations of committing suicide and a letter which he had written to his family in his diary. Baring links these thoughts of suicide to Brandt’s bad physical shape which had plagued Brandt since 1972 and were then also intensified by toothaches and stomach pains after a visit to Egypt.[52] On the other hand, Karl-Heinz Janßen argues that Brandt wanted to end everything on the first of May as that was the day when he was given a list of all the women he had had an affair with and that was simply too much to handle for him.[53] When considering that Baring actually spoke to Brandt about this section in his diaries his argument, is given more weight than Janßen’s who bases his argument on speculations. It is evident that his chancellorship was characterised by frequent illnesses which weakened his physical shape significantly and added further difficulties to Brandt who already struggled to keep up with his political responsibilities.

The Role of Depression Weakening his Mental Health

On top of the tumour discovered in 1972 and his sicknesses Einhart Lorenz argues that Brandt also suffered severe depressions during his years as chancellor.[54] Brandt’s son Matthias Brandt highlights that he would often retrieve to his study in his house and lock himself up for hours and let no one get near him.[55] Brandt was also unable to show up at the Bundestag in Bonn for days on end because he was in his bed suffering his depressions.[56] Friends had also noticed that he had gradually withdrawn from public life completely. Müller, on the other hand, argues that “Brandt withdrew from public and political life around him for a few days every year, to prepare important speeches for example.”[57] Schmidt who worked alongside Brandt however, quite clearly states that Brandt did suffer depressions and retrieved from public life however that this was kept secret for a long time possibly explaining why Müller prescribes Brandt’s absence to writing speeches.[58] Official organs always used the excuse of a fever which restricted him from fulfilling his role as chancellor and kept him in bed, however, in reality, it was depressions torturing his life.[59] These depressions could last long enough for his close party friends such as Egon Bahr and Horst Ehmke to visit him to try and motivate him to stand up and make his way to the Bundestag. During one of his depressions, Ehmke said the famous sentence “Willy, get up. We have a government to run!”[60] When the Guillaume affair was publicised, Schmidt was one of the only men who advised Willy Brandt to stay yet after his abdication even Schmidt acknowledged that Brandt had already been at a political end before the Guillaume affair. He had also suggested that it was not, in fact, the Guillaume affair which had caused Brandt to abdicate but that it was his depressions which had meant that he no longer felt able to rule Germany.[61] Interestingly Schreiber argues that in fact, the spy Guillaume was the only one to notice Brandt’s depressive phase in 1973.[62] Brandt had narrowly escaped death after a helicopter crash in Israel. On his return, he was deeply offended as none of his colleagues asked him about his wellbeing or lost any words of condolences.[63] This evoked a depressive phase in Brandt which he carried around with him as he felt left alone. It also clearly shows how little people around him cared for him and considered his wellbeing. Overall the depressions that Brandt suffered during the years of his chancellorship also played a crucial role in his abdication as it hindered his ability to stand up to critiques and to overcome political problems.


When Willy Brandt abdicated on the 24 of April 1974 he argued that these were necessary steps after the exposure of the East- German spy Günter Guillaume, however other major factors had played a larger role which Brandt was not willing to admit.[64] Brandt was for many the chancellor that Germany needed after the war and after 20 years of Christion Democratic Rule in Germany. His rule was characterised by difficult times due to frictions with the Eastern- Block and internal problems with trade unions, and yet Brandt was and still is seen as one of the greatest chancellors in German history.[65] For many his role as chancellor came to an abrupt halt in 1974 when he took full responsibility for the East- German spy Günter Guillaume and abdicated from his post as chancellor however remaining chairman of the SPD. While immediately after his abdication Guillaume was still seen to be the sole reason for his retirement, with the benefits of hindsight and additional information about Brandt’s personal life surfacing the opinions have shifted and other aspects of his life have been made responsible for the abdication. There was, for example, his depressions and his sickness which had been following Brandt around, increasing especially after the stress of the 1972 election campaign. There was however also the lacking support and open critique of some of his party friends which made Brandt doubt himself. Lastly, there was his political fiasco in 1974 with him granting 11% higher wages to the public sector which had devastating effects on the popularity of the SPD which was already visible during the regional elections in Hamburg. Considering that Brandt had already considered abdicating at previous occasions, the Guillaume affair no longer seems to be the only reason for his abdication.[66] When considering Brandt’s sickness and lacking support from his party especially in connection to the trade unions, it seems that these played a far more important role in his decision to abdicate. In conclusion, the Guillaume affair was only the best way for Brandt to leave his political career behind without having to admit other problems which played a far greater role in his decision to abdicate.


Image taken at the Willy Brandt Museum in Berlin showing the only mention of his abdication, which was linked it to the Guillaume affair.../../../../Desktop/19656906_10155495642744962_8962052456637181626_n.jpg


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Skandal! Der Fall Guillaume (1974),” ZDFinfo, Aired September 5, 2017
Tempel, Karl G. Die Parteien in Der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Und Die Rolle Der Parteien in Der DDR. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien , 2013.
“Umfrage: Stabilität durch Brandts Abgang?” Der Spiegel. May 13, 1974.
Wegmann, Ludwig. “Bundeskanzler Willy Brandt, Dahinter Sein Referent Günter Guillaume (Mit Sonnenbrille).” The Federal Archives, 24 Apr. 2014, www.bundesarchiv.de/oeffentlichkeitsarbeit/bilder_dokumente/04054/index-0.html.de. Accessed 7 June 2017.
"Willy Brandt: „Ihr Laßt Mich Alle Allein“." Der Spiegel February 18, 1974: 19-23. Spiegel Online. Accessed 10 June 2017.
“Willy Brandt und die Frauen: Flirts und Affären,” Nachrichten.at. December 14, 2013.
Wolfrum, Edgar. Die Geglückte Demokratie: Geschichte Der Bundesrepubik Deutschland Von Ihren Anfängen Bis Zur Gegenwart. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2006.
Wolfrum, Edgar. Die 101 wichtigsten Fragen – Bundesrepublik Deutschland. München: C.H. Beck, 2011.
Zinsen, Joachim. “„Willy Brandt war Opfer einer bösartigen Treibjagd,“” Aachener Nachrichten, December 12, 2013. http://www.aachener-nachrichten.de/news/politik/willy-brandt-war-opfer-einer-boesartigen-treibjagd-1.717612.
Footnotes: [1] Barbara Marshall, Willy Brandt: A Political Biography (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2004), 35.  [2] Guido Obschernikat, Personal Interview, March 21, 2017.  [3] Klaus Wettig and Mirja Linnekugel, Willy Brandt Porträts (Berlin: Parthas, 2002), 21.  [4] Hélène Miard- Delacroix, Willy Brandt: Life of a Statesman (London: I.B. Tauris, 2016), Blurb.  [5] Matthias Kirchner, Koalitionskrise Und Mißtrauensvotum 1972 (Heidelberg: Diplomica, 2003), 112.  [6] Albrecht Müller, Brandt Aktuell Treibjagd Auf Ein Hoffnungsträger (Frankfurt Am Main: Westend, 2013), 28.  [7] Hermann Schreiber, Kanzlersturz: Warum Willy Brandt zurücktrat (München: Econ, 2003), 92.  [8] Norbert Seitz, “Die SPD und ihre ungeliebten Vordenker” Deutschlandfunk, accessed October 10, 2017.  http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/die-spd-und-ihre-ungeliebten-vordenker.1184.de.html?dram:article_id=185448  [9] Bernd Faulenbach, Willy Brandt, (München: C.H. Beck, 2013), 85.  [10] Eckard Michels, Guillaume, Der Spion: Eine Deutsch-deutsche Karriere (Berlin: Links, 2013), 183.  [11] Heiner Emde, Verrat Und Spionage in Deutschland: Texte, Bilder, Dokumente (München: Ringier, 1980), 216.  [12] “Die lange Willy Brandt Nacht,” Archiv, Das Erste, Aired December 18, 2013, http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Reportage-Dokumentation/Die-lange-Willy-Brandt-Nacht/Das-Erste/Video?bcastId=799280&documentId=25990680.  [13] Thomas Ramge, Die großen Polit-Skandale: Eine andere Geschichte der Bundesrepublik (Frankfurt: Campus, 2003), 123.  [14] Michels, Guillaume, Der Spion, 164.  [15] “Skandal! Der Fall Guillaume (1974),” ZDFinfo, Aired September 5, 2017  https://www.zdf.de/dokumentation/zdfinfo-doku/skandal-der-fall-guillaume-1974-102.html  [16] Miard- Delacroix, Willy Brandt: Life of a Statesman, 161.  [17] Guido Knopp, History: Geheimnisse des 20. Jahrhunderts (München: C. Bertelsmann), 309.  [18] “Umfrage: Stabilität durch Brandts Abgang?” Der Spiegel, May 13, 1974.  [19] Michael Gehler, Banken, Finanzen Und Wirtschaft Im Kontext Europäischer Und Globaler Krisen (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2015), 278.  [20] Michels, Guillaume, Der Spion, 180.  [21] Edgar Wolfrum, Die Geglückte Demokratie: Geschichte Der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Von Ihren Anfängen Bis Zur Gegenwart. (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2006), 332.  [22] Ibid, 308.  [23] Karlheinz Niclauß, Kanzlerdemokratie: Regierungsführung Von Konrad Adenauer Bis Angela Merkel (Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2015), 161.  [24] “Willy Brandt und die Frauen: Flirts und Affären,” Nachrichten.at. December 14, 2013.  http://www.nachrichten.at/nachrichten/politik/aussenpolitik/Willy-Brandt-und-die-Frauen-Flirts-und-Affaeren;art391,1261425.  [25] Ibid.  [26] Guido Obschernikat, Personal Interview, March 21, 2017.  [27] Christoph Meyer, Herbert Wehner Biographie (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2006), 424.  [28] Martin Rupps, Troika Wider Willen: Wie Brandt, Wehner Und Schmidt Die Republik Regierten (Berlin: Ullstein, 2005), 21.  [29] Egon Bahr, Ostwärts und nichts vergessen!: Politik zwischen Krieg und Verständigung (Freiburg: Herder, 2015), 108.  [30] Edgar, Geglückte Demokratie, 333.  [31] Schreiber, Kanzlersturz, 97.  [32] Bahr, Ostwärts und nichts vergessen, 109.  [33] Müller, Brandt Aktuell, 70.  [34] Schroeder, Wolfgang and Weßles Bernhard, Die Gewerkschaften in Politik Und Gesellschaft der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 2003), 57.  [35] Nikolaus Piper, Willkommen in Der Wirklichkeit Wie Deutschland Den Abstieg Vermeiden Kann (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2004), 61.  [36] “Die Quelle, Volumes 25-26,’ Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, 1974, 116.  [37] “Die SPD und die Gewerkschaften: Überfällige Trennung” Manager-Magazin 9/1999.  [38] Hans-Otto Hemmer and Hartmut Simon, Auf Die Wirkung Kommt Es an: Gespräche Mit Heinz Kluncker (Berlin: Bund-Verlag, 2000), 167.  [39] Peter Gillies, “Aufbruch - oder Kanzlerdämmerung?” Hamburger Abendblatt, March 5, 2003.  [40] Simon Hartmut, “Zum Vorwurf, Heinz Kluncker habe 1974 Willy Brandt gestürzt” Verdi, accessed May 15, 2017,  https://www.verdi.de/ueber-uns/idee-tradition/gruendungsgewerkschaften/++co++1c26342a-b918-11e1-7184-0019b9e321e1/@@index.html?page=2.  [41] Ibid.  [42] Ibid.  [43] Karl Christian Führer, Gewerkschaftsmacht und ihre Grenzen Die ÖTV und ihr Vorsitzender Heinz Kluncker 1964-1982 (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2017), 383.  [44] Horst Heimann, Theoriediskussion in Der SPD Ergebnisse Und Perspektiven (Köln: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1975), 43.  [45] "Willy Brandt: „Ihr Laßt Mich Alle Allein“." Der Spiegel, February 18, 1974: 19-23.  .  [46] Daniela Forkmann and Michael Schlieben, Die Parteivorsitzenden in Der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1949 – 2005 (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2005), 81.  [47] “Wahl zum 7. Deutschen Bundestag am 19. November 1972,” Der Bundeswahlleiter, accessed April 18, 2017,  https://www.bundeswahlleiter.de/bundestagswahlen/1972.html  [48] Miard-Delacroix, Willy Brandt: Life of a Statesman, 153.  [49] Volker Busse, Die Bundeskanzler Und Ihre Ämter, (Heidelberg: Wachter- Verlag, 2006), 97.  [50] Schreiber, Kanzlersturz, 86.  [51] Ibid (87)  [52] Joachim Preuß and Gerhard Spörl, “„Er wollte sich das Leben nehmen,“” Der Spiegel, January 31, 1994,  http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-9275814.html.  [53] Karl- Heinz Janßen, “Offizier im besonderen Einsatz,” Die Zeit, April 22, 1994, http://www.zeit.de/1994/17/offizier-im-besonderen-einsatz/seite-5  [54] Einhart Lorenz, Willy Brandt: Deutscher - Europäer - Weltbürger (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 2012), 192.  [55] Hermann Schreiber, Kanzlersturz Audiobook, read by Matthias Brandt, (Tacheles, 2003).  [56] Sigrid Elisabeth Rosenberger, Der Faktor Persönlichkeit in Der Politik Leadershipanalyse Des Kanzlers Willy Brandt (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2015), 146.  [57] Joachim Zinsen, “„Willy Brandt war Opfer einer bösartigen Treibjagd,“” Aachener Nachrichten, December 12, 2013,  http://www.aachener-nachrichten.de/news/politik/willy-brandt-war-opfer-einer-boesartigen-treibjagd-1.717612.  [58] Giovanni di Lorenzo, “Verstehen Sie das, Herr Schmidt?” Die Zeit, November 3, 2011, http://www.zeit.de/2011/45/Fragen-an-Helmut-Schmidt/seite-2  [59] Schreiber, Kanzlersturz, 91.  [60] Rosenberger, Faktor Persönlichkeit, 146.  [61] Daniela Münkel and Jutta Schwarzkopf, Geschichte Als Experiment: Studien Zu Politik, Kultur Und Alltag Im 19. Und 20. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt: Campus, 2004), 82.  [62] Schreiber, Kanzlersturz Audiobook, 30:30.  [63] Ibid, 31:22.  [64] Miard-Delacroix, Willy Brandt: Life of a Statesman, 157.  [65] Edgar Wolfrum, Die 101 wichtigsten Fragen – Bundesrepublik Deutschland, (München: C.H. Beck, 2011), 12.  [66] Guido Obschernikat, Personal Interview, March 21, 2017.

How opposed were Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand to German reunification?

Word Count: 1914

A Plan of the Investigation

This investigation examines the question: “How opposed were Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand to the reunification of Germany?” For this purpose a collection of books written by experts focusing on the British and French policies will taken into account, as well as a series of newspaper articles from newspapers such as The Sunday Times and The Telegraph; from the time period as well as from today. The events of 1989 to 1990 will be summarised and two of the sources used will be evaluated; The Downing Street Years by Margaret Thatcher, which is essential for this investigation as Thatcher herself describes her policy towards Germany and Mitterrand, the End of the Cold War, and German Unification by Frédéric Bozo, which is devoted to elucidate Mitterrand’s opinion towards this question. Ultimately the arguments will be evaluated and a conclusion will be reached by considering the claims and counterclaims of the different sources.

B Summary of Evidence

Whilst the standpoint of the USSR against German unification seems to be fairly obvious the controversial opinions of the two democratic leaders Mitterrand and Thatcher, against a unified Germany, remains to be debated and contradicts with the otherwise fusing policies of the two countries. The first plan to temporarily divide Germany was made during the Yalta and Potsdam conferences in February and July of 1945, where France Britain and the USA formulated the goal that this division should not be final. The assertive construction of the Berlin Wall by the USSR, dividing East and West Berlin then began on the 13th of August 1961 and it fell on the 9th of November 1989, yet this did not automatically lead to a unified Germany. It took a further whole year, until the 3rd of October 1990, for Germany to be officially united.
The first step towards unifications began on the 28th November 1989 when Helmut Kohl announced his Ten-Point Program for achieving German unification to the German Bundestag. Upon hearing this, the French Prime Minister Mitterrand, who stressed that he had acted in favour of a unified Germany and that its had been Thatcher’s controversial actions against Germany that led to his persona being portrayed in a negative light[1], hoped that he himself would not have to oppose reunification as the “Soviets will do it for (…)” him.[2] He feared that a unified Germany would, similarly to the 1910’s, 30s and 40’s, dominate Europe and establish itself as an economic super power, which would greatly upset the balance in Europe.[3] Following this, Mitterrand flew to Kiev on the 6th December to discuss the German plans with Gorbachev, in which Mitterrand again criticised the German actions and wanted to wait for the strengthening of the European Community and that of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe[4]. In the same month, during the Strasbourg Council in December 1989, Mitterrand and Thatcher, who was particularly worried that a unified Germany would destabilise Gorbachev[5], had two private meetings and here they decided to work together in order to halt this process[6]
However, during a press conference shortly before Christmas, whilst Mitterrand visited Germany, he stated that “he was not one of those who were putting on the brakes”.7
Furthermore, Thatcher, wanting to gain a better understanding of the German population, organised a Chequers Seminar on the 25th of March 1990 in which historians, such as Norman Stone and Gordon Craig attended and offered their advice on Germany. Through out the meeting Thatcher again displayed her dislike of Germany.[7] The disputes about what do with Germany were further discussed in the 2 plus 4 ministerial meetings, which began on the 5th of May 1990 in Bonn[8]. After the impasse of the 2 plus 4 meetings over the border settlement of Germany was lifted on the 17th of July in Paris, events moved more quickly than expected and further meetings on the 19th  July and the 11th September resulted in the final settlement with respect to Germany.[9]

C Evaluation of Sources

Bozo, Frédéric. Mitterrand, the End of the Cold War and German Unification. New York: Berghahn, 2009. Print.

First published in 2005 and translated into English in 2009, the book encompasses the history of the French foreign policy, mainly towards German unification, intending to change the contemporary view of Mitterrand’s attitude and actions towards German unification. Bozo uses a vast collection of sources, many used for the first time, and thus it is not simply a recount of already used sources and interpretations but offers an original insight into his policies.[10] Furthermore, primary sources found in archives and secondary sources in different languages are featured in his account of French foreign policy, making it possible to examine the question from a range of angles. Moreover, interviews from over 40 important figures during the time were part of his research and extensive footnotes conclude a well-researched piece of work.[11] However, a limitation is that Bozo himself is French and thus, although there is no direct evidence for it, national pride and a want to rehabilitate Mitterrand may have subconsciously altered his choice and interpretation of sources.

Thatcher, Margaret. The Downing Street Years. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1993. Print.

Thatcher’s memoirs provide an intimate account of her time as prime minister, giving an insight into the government workings and it has several chapters devoted to the German question of reunification. She uses her memoirs to explain and justify some of her actions; yet considering the importance that Thatcher played during this time period her insider account is invaluable and must be considered for this assessment. Moreover, she gives a surprisingly harsh insight into her own policy towards unification; she herself states that “if there is one instance in which a foreign policy I pursued met with unambiguous failure, it was my policy on German reunification.”[12]

However, as the book is not simply devoted to the German question but talks about other important aspects of her time in office it does not provide the depth that would be wanted. Furthermore, she published her autobiography three years after her time in office and this close contact to the situation may have blurred her recollection and she was not yet able to view the developments of her actions with hindsight. She is also deeply anti German and curiously does not mention the Checkers seminar, even though, documents of this have been leaked and thus appears to be more self-serving when discussing her policies towards Germany. In addition, personal historic accounts can be affected by time and ones own memory and this poses a further limitation to the source.

D Analysis

During her time as Prime Minster, Margaret Thatcher warned that “a reunited Germany is simply too big and powerful to be just another player within Europe”[13] and that the German culture veers “unpredictably between aggression and self-doubt”.[14] These statements on the surface seem to clearly indicate Thatcher’s opposition towards a reunited Germany and it appears as if she wanted to at all costs prevent a change in Europe. She vividly remembered under which conditions the first and second world wars were started and thus, with this preconception in mind, hoped to prevent German unification.
Furthermore, through out the discussions she also repeatedly announced that Mitterrand was in accordance with her and that Mitterrand was even more worried than she was. [15] However, it is easy to make more of her words then they should be because similar to other politicians, she is known for vivid and emotional speeches and it must therefore be considered what she actually did and what she merely said. In respect to this, it appears as if her pubic discourse served only as “a way of letting off steam”[16] and that she did relatively little to actively stop the process. Apart from talks with Gorbachev, in which she expressed her distress about German unification, [17] reminding him that “Europe is remembering who started the two world wars”, [18] and a failed attempt to create an Anglo-French axis, through which she again attempted to link the Mitterrand’s views with hers, in opposition of unification, [19] she was resigned to the fact that German unification seemed inevitable and concentrated on slowing down reunification through the Community’s institutions and the framework offered by the powers of France, Britain, the USA and the USSR that were responsible for the security of Berlin.[20] These limited actions on the other hand would suggest that, far from being determined to stop reunification and whilst she harboured feelings against Germany, these were not sufficiently strong enough to result in a more determined course of action. Although Thatcher goes on to saying that Germany “is (…) by its very nature a destabilising rather than stabilising force in Europe”[21] she does not back up her rhetoric by concrete actions.
Furthermore, Norman Stone recalls from the Chequers seminar that Thatcher was “less then welcoming” to the idea of a reunited Germany.[22] However, Foreign Minister Hurd, who was also present, claims to have noticed a slightly more benign attitude of Thatcher towards Germany during these meetings [23] yet her overriding distress about a unified Germany remained and it appears as if she saw it as a great threat to Europe.

Mitterrand on the contrary, was aiming to distance himself from the clearly opposed statements of Thatcher and in the summer of 1989 was the first Western leader to publicly acknowledged German unification,[24] and thus it seems was not at all objected to a unified Germany was also publicly unwilling to support Thatcher. He states that “whether this pleases me or not, unification is for me a historical reality which it would be unjust to oppose (…) ”,[25] yet in contrast to Mitterrand’s own perspective, Thatcher claims that in Mitterrand’s opinion Germany should not be allowed to disturb or upset the political balance of Europe and claims that Mitterrand was simply at a loss at what to do about Germany and thus did not actively resist the process[26]. This example again illustrates Thatcher’s attempt to involve Mitterrand and that publicly, Mitterrand did not want to follow her lead. It appears as if Mitterrand was more successfully able to relieve himself from the self imposed preconception of Germany and with the statement” “if I were German (…) I would be for a unification as rapid as possible (…) but being French I do not have the same passion”[27] shows that he was able to set aside his personal convictions. He realized that through conforming to the German aspiration he could create the grounds for a more prosperous collaboration of the two countries in future years to come and that his public attire and that of France was thus better served than if he were to oppose an unstoppable process [28] and in the end both Thatcher and Mitterrand came to the conclusion that no force in the world could prevent German unification.[29]

E Conclusion

It can therefore be determined that whilst Margaret Thatcher, was opposed to German unification and in general always claimed that Mitterrand was in accordance, Mitterrand accepted this process. Nevertheless, Mitterrand did have his reservations towards a united Germany; yet he saw it in the interest of Europe to not oppose unification and through a positive attitude towards the German goal to foster the political relationships between the two countries. Thatcher on the contrary, although it had become clear to her that the process could not be stopped, remained skeptical and reluctant and only years later accepted the peaceful ambitions of Germany.

F Sources and Word Limit
Works Cited
"BBC NEWS | Europe | Thatcher's Fight against German Unity." BBC News - Home. BBC
     News. Web. 06 Nov. 2011.

Bozo, Frédéric. Mitterrand, the End of the Cold War and German Unification. New York:
     Berghahn, 2009. Print.

Cole, Alistair. François Mitterrand: A Study in Political Leadership. London: Routledge,
     1994. Print.

Hadley, Kathryn. “The Legend of Mitterrand’s opposition to German reunifaction”
     History Today. History Today, 14 December 2009. Web. 27 October 2011

McElroy, Damien. "Berlin Wall: Have Margaret Thatcher's Fears about Germany Been
     Proved Right? - Telegraph." Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph Online, Daily Telegraph and
     Sunday Telegraph - Telegraph. 09 Nov. 2009. Web. 01 Sept. 2011.

Norman, Stone. “Cold War: “Germany? Maggie was absolutely right.” Sunday Times 23
     Sep. 1996. Print

Nugent, Helen. "United Germany Might Allow Another Hitler, Mitterrand Told Thatcher -
     Times Online." The Sunday Times. 10 Sept. 2009. Web. 04 Aug. 2011.

Ritter, Gerhard Albert. The Price of German Unity: Reunification and the Crisis of the
     Welfare State. New York, NY: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

Sutton, Michael. France and the Construction of Europe: 1944-2007: the Geopolitical
     Imperative. New York [u.a.: Berghahn, 2007. Print.

Thatcher, Margaret. The Downing Street Years. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1993. Print

Volkery, Carsten. "The Iron Lady's Views on German Reunification: 'The Germans Are Back!' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International." SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten. 9 Nov. 2009. Web. 26 Dec. 2012.

Was Rudolf Walter Hess Murdered on the 17th of August 1987?

A.)       Plan of the Investigation (215)

Was Rudolf Walter Hess Murdered on the 17th of August 1987? The scope of this investigation is to discover if Hess was assassinated in Spandau Prison or if he committed suicide. It is his son Wolf Rüdiger Hess who arises the question of his father being murdered and thus striking my attention to this topic as many historians see this as an extremely controversial thought. Through historians such as Desmond Zwar another perspective is gained thus criticizing Wolf Hess’s disputed idea. In order to carry out this investigation primary and secondary sources will be consulted, and a bibliography will be complied and attached.

To answer my research question successfully section C contains sources read and evaluated by Rudolf Hess’s son, Wolf Rüdiger Hess and his current book “Mord an Rudolf Hess?” whilst analysing Desmond Zwar’s thoughts from his book “Talking to Rudolf Hess”. Wolf Hess acts in this case as a primary source giving me a personal related answer as he uses Rudolf’s personal letters throughout his imprisonment in Spandau. Hence, Zwar presents his research through valid government documents such as handwritten medical reports by Abdallah Melaouhi and an interview with Colonel Eugene Bird. German newspaper and magazine articles enhance further contended ideas, suggesting that this is a widespread topic and should be further researched.

B.)         Summary of Evidence (550)  

Walter Rudolf Hess (*April 26, 1894) was an extremely prominent and important figure in Nazi Germany as he acted as Adolf Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi Party. As the war with the Soviet Union started he flew to Scotland in the simple attempt to arbitrate peace with Great Britain. After being arrested he was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau Prison.[1] Rudolf Hess died on the 17th of August 1987 at the age of 93 in a summerhouse. It is stated that he took an extension cord from one of the lamps, wrapped it around the window latch and then hanged himself. ([2])([3]) This suggests that the death of Rudolf Hess occurred by strangulation.[4] One moth later on the 17th of September the Four Powers declared in a statement that Hess died through a suicide.[5]

 There are many different statements and opinions on if Hess was murdered or if he died by suicide. Quite a few judgements engender from historians about his death in correlation to his mysterious flight in 1941. For instance Desmond Zwar states that Hess was walking with a cane because he had suffered a slight stroke and was incapable of a suicide.[6] This is supported by Dr. Seidl, his lawyer, had stated that Hess was too old and frail to have managed to kill himself by asphyxiation.[7] Zwar’s statement was that he was blind in the left eye and could see very little out of the right eye.[8] Next, Wolf Rüdiger Hess repeatedly claimed that the British Special Air Service had murdered his father.[9] In his book “The life and the death of my father, Rudolf Hess” Hess argues his father was murdered, as Britain didn’t want their most favored personage, Winston Churchill to be portrayed in a different light.[10] Furthermore, Rüdiger Hess mentions Abdallah Melaouhi, who served as Hess’s medical orderly from 1982 to 1987 who published a book on a similar theme, validated this similar statement.[11]

On the other hand, W. Hugh Thomas’s book “The Murder of Rudolf Hess” his outlook on the situation was that Hess was murdered in 1941 and a hoaxer flew to Scotland.[12] The deceiver was the tried at Nuremberg and was imprisoned in Spandau. As Thomas was a British Military surgeon who had been stationed at Spandau, he bases this thesis on surmise that there was no scar from the bullet wound, which Hess had in his chest in the 1917 autopsy record.[13] However, the German magazine “Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte” disagrees that it was a “hoaxer” while stating that he was assassinated by the British.[14] This view by the German newspaper “Die Welt” states the opposite whilst arguing that he committed suicide as he had tried this before whilst imprisonment in Great Britain, hence had failed to serve Adolf Hitler in an appropriate manner as to negotiating peace with Britain in 1941.[15] When in contact with the conventional historian David Irving his opinion consists of the simple resolution that one should investigate that the “Negro US solider named Jordan who was on guard duty at Spandau” could have assassinated him.[16]

Nevertheless, it is suggested that there are different backed up factual verdicts from numerous historians and columnists showing a great breadth in interest through vast types of websites, newspapers, magazines, broadcasts/films and books.

C.)       Evaluation of Sources (600)

Written in 2010 and published by the History Press, Desmond Zwar’s account of Rudolf Hess’s profile in Talking To Rudolf Hess serves as an analytical assessment of his life style but also of his death, which Zwar states as “He was Murdered!”[17] In his 18th Chapter. With reference to hindsight, the Australian journalists aim is to analyze in depth the murder of Rudolf Hess, such as his role as Hitler’s secretary and his political situation during World War 2 toward the Nazi regime. He approaches the issue of either murder or suicide in an objective manner as he tries to make the reader understand why and how he could’ve been murdered whilst stating his clear standpoint of him being assassinated in Chapter 18 thus utilizing appropriate facts. For instance, the preface writes, “That was the official suicide story. But…”[18] which shows he is willing to state on fact whilst arguing against it with his personal opinion and utilization of accurate facts.

Since it is written approximately twenty-three years after the death and its occurring events took place, the writer has the benefit of hindsight, allowing him to analyze with more clarity and objectivity as more historical resources are available. He also has the advantage of having more information available, not only primary sources, but other secondary sources, such as other historian’s views on the event other valuable documents such as a hand written document by Hess’s male nurse Abdallah Melaouhi.[19] However, at times, it is noticeable that the current limitation is that the author has the preference for being convinced that it is murder even though, he only mentions this in chapter 18, the last chapter of the book.

However the author is objective thus uses official records, letters and quotes other historians to give a clear description of the “Murder”. In doing this Zwar is able to establish reasons put forward for the murder of Hess.

“Rudolf Heß: Ich Bereue Nichts” on the other hand, was published in 1994 in Stuttgart; the author Wolf Rüdiger Hess is as Rudolf’s son a primary source due to the fact that he has memories and written letters included in his book.[20] Next, he is a family member and is able to access information about his father’s death which other historian would not necessarily have making it more valuable than Zwar’s book. However, the book is limited since Hess junior publishes a book, as a result of his father’s death seven years later, which makes it more susceptible to the opinions and emotions and needs to find someone responsible for the death of his father. Next, it reflects the context, which was lived at that time; therefore it is more subjective than the other source. However, since it is a primary document, it also has great value for historians as it reveals the thoughts, worries, emotions and opinions the author has experienced whilst growing up and experienced while during and after his father’s death. Both books focus mainly on that Rudolf Hess was murdered whilst Zwar uses Hess junior as a resource and Hess Junior uses the autopsy report from Dr. Alfred Seidl, Professor Cameron and Professor Spann.[21]

These sources are valuable as historical evidence for different purposes. “Rudolf Heß: Ich Bereue Nichts” is extremely valuable as it dips into Hess’s personal life and it is written in a very personal manner so the audience is drawn into a more focused aspect on Hess’s murder, while “Talking To Rudolf Hess” focuses more on the mysterious flight to Scotland and is more objective to the death of Hess rather then finding the scape goat.

D.)        Analysis of Sources (470)

The death of Rudolf Hess still baffles historians in our present time, while the allies argue he committed suicide, his son states murder and a German newspaper declares a suicide due to emotional reasons. However, importance in history is gained when evaluating the facts with the benefit of hindsight. Instead of confusion, one should analyse in depth the facts and opinion situated in the historical context of that time thus focusing on Wolf Rüdiger Hess.

The consequences when analysing Rudolf Hess’s death is that as Historians we have come no step closer to one of the most important men in Nazi Germany; Adolf Hitler’s secretary and contiguous companion. When analyzing my wide variety of sources the author Desmond Zwar states that Rudolf Hess was murdered. Zwar uses specific evidence such as using the letters from Hess’s nurse Abdallah Melaouthi, interviews from Wolf Rüdiger Hess and Eugene K. Bird. Bird states that Jordan murdered Hess[22] while Hess Jnr claims, “He was murdered by the SAS”[23]. Moreover, Wolf Rudiger Hess vocalizes in Zwars book that instead of his father seizing an extension cord from one of the lamps and wrapping it around the window latch to hang himself he is “Working even more intensely to prove that my father was strangled in that garden hut, and to prove that the British were behind it”[24].

As both Wolf Rüdiger Hess and Desmond Zwar mention David Irving it was vital for me to contact him and ask him for further information. He responded to my email thus stating that Rudolf Hess was murdered and one should look “Into the Negro US solider named Jordan who was on guard duty at Spandau close to Hess that fateful afternoon.”[25] However, this was again a totally new argument for me to investigate, which caused difficulties, as there were many different perspectives with very little concrete factual evidence.

However, the 1996 German Newspaper “Die Welt” states that on the 17th of August 1987 Rudolf Hess committed suicide.[26] This is supported by the four powers, which were responsible for Spandau Prison the USA, Great Britain, USSR, and France declared that Rudolf Hess hanged himself.[27] The author quite clearly agrees and to solace this argument he uses the official document that the Four Powers issued on he 17th of September 1987. This statement is then concluded by “There is no doubt of the accuracy of the statement by the' Four Powers. Hess had tried to commit suicide twice during the war while in Britain and in Spandau in 1987 he succeeded in taking his own life.”[28]

Through widespread of different sources one could analyse successfully that all the sources available utilize their arguments with valid documents, reports or interviews making them all extremely reliable and trustworthy thus having to take into account the benefit of hindsight.

E.)         Conclusion (165)

After having analysed the various interpretation historians have about if Rudolf Hess was murdered or not, I arrived to my own conclusion. I based my work on some books and newspapers/magazines written during or shortly after the events and on others written recently, made this possible for me to argue that Hess was murdered on the 17th of August 1987 in Spandau prison.

Wolf Rüdiger Hess seems like a very reliable resource to use due to the fact that he access to historical plus to his own memories and discussions with his father. It is fact that the British government are releasing the Rudolf Hess file in 2017 as a result of them having secrets or situations that occurred during World War 2 that no one should know of.[29] Rudolf had the knowledge and the mental situation of being to spill the beans, which put Britain in a vulnerable situation thus causing them to send the SAS to kill him at the age of 92.[30]

F.)         Bibliography


1.)           Bird, Colonel Eugene. Interview by Desmond Zwar. Skewed & Reviewed. Print July 27th 2010

2.)           Douglas-Hamilton, James. 1993 Mainstream Publishing Company. The Truth About Rudollf Hess.

3.)           Hess, Wolf Rudiger. The Life and Death of My Father, Rudolf Hess. By Druffel Verlag 1990,

4.)           Hess, Wolf Rudiger.“Mord an Rudolf Hess?” By Druffel Verlag Leonie am Starnberger See. 1990,

5.)           Wolf Rüdiger Heß. “Rudolf Heß: Ich Bereue Nichts”. By Leopold Stocker Verlag. Stuttgart 1994

6.)           Picknett, Lynn and Prince Clive and Prior Stephen. 2001. Double Standards The Rudolf Hess Cover-Up. By Little, Brown and Company. Great Britain

7.)           Thomas, Hugh. Published 1979 Coronet. The Murder Of Rudolf Hess.

8.)           Zwar, Desmond. July 27th 2010. The History Press. Talking to Rudolf Hess. London

Personal Correspondence:

1.)           Irving, David John Cawdell (personal communication, 20th of August 2014)


1.)           Rudolf Heß Der Letzte von Spandau. Directed by Lutz Becker and Guido Knopp. Produced by Werner Rieb. VZ-Handelsgesellschaft, 3 February 2005. Film

[1]http://rudolfhess.net [online] [cited 7.09.2014]  [2] The Telegraph [online] [cited 8.02.2015]  [3] Appendix 2  [4] http://www.Veteranstoday.com [online] [cited 25.08.2014]  [5] Rudolf Heß Der Letzte von Spandau. Film. Min 55  [6] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 100)  [7] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. .“Mord an Rudolf Hess?” (Page 191)  [8] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 115)  [9] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 144)  [10] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. .“The life and the death of my father, Rudolf Hess”. (Page 146)  [11] Rudolf Heß Der Letzte von Spandau. Film. Min 42  [12] Thomas, Hugh. (Page 155)  [13] Rudolf Heß Der Letzte von Spandau. Film. Min 76  [14] Appendix 3  [15] Appendix 2  [16] Irving, David John Cawdell (personal communication)  [17] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 174)  [18] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 175)  [19] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 178)  [20] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 163)  [21] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 169)   [22] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 183)  [23] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 168)  [24] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 181)  [25] Irving, David John Cawdell (personal communication)  [26] Appendix 2  [27] Appendix 2  [28] Appendix 2  [29] Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 153)  [30] Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 154)