Driving the Soviets Up the Wall: Soviet-East German Relations, 1953-1961

With young scholars now digging into the archives, we are discovering how little we knew of the complexities of Soviet relations with its puppets and proxies. Harrison has turned over every archival rock in reconstructing the tense relationship between the Soviet Union and Walter Ulbricht's East Germany, from Stalin's death until the construction of the Berlin Wall. She does not ultimately argue that the tail was wagging the dog; Moscow, not Berlin, instigated the Berlin crises. But her very careful account does show how much Nikita Khrushchev and Ulbricht disagreed on virtually every issue, from domestic policy in the German Democratic Republic to Soviet economic aid, East German sovereignty, and confronting the West. Harrison is not alone in teaching us that third parties played a significant role in shaping the Cold War, but hers is a particularly striking example.

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