This book is the leading German-language history of the events of 1989. In addition to summarizing the diplomatic history, it explains the reasoning behind West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's activist diplomacy. In Rödder's view, Kohl was driven most by domestic electoral calculations. A cautious man in most things, the chancellor's first instinct was to follow the advice of his Foreign Ministry: he refused to press publicly for reunification. With the prospect of the opposition Social Democrats (who were already ahead in the polls) stealing the issue, however, Kohl reversed himself in November 1989. He sprang a unity initiative, keeping even his coalition partners, the Free Democrats, in the dark. At a stroke, Kohl gained the political advantage at home and abroad. Despite his conservative credentials, he became Germany's most popular politician, especially in the East. Soon, France followed along with an EU deal, and Gorbachev proved willing to permit not only Germany's reunification but also its membership in NATO. Kohl had gambled and won.
Get the latest book reviews delivered to your inbox.