2012 | 3-4 | 472-488
Article title

Německo a středovýchodní Evropa, 1945–1990. Pohled z Londýna

Title variants
Germany and East-Central Europe, 1945–90: The View from London
Languages of publication
This essay first examines the leading role of Britain over the division of Germany in 1945–49, and then considers its less vital role in Eastern Europe (with Czechoslovakia as a case study), showing that it was closer to being an observer than an initiator of policy. While the British could make a strategic difference over at least part of Germany’s future, they knew that the fate of Eastern Europe was essentially contingent upon the broader development of East-West relations, and concluded that it would be futile, and possibly counter-productive, not to accept the Soviet Union’s influence over this area as a fait accompli. In 1989, on the other hand, serious diplomats and observers of British power knew that this time the UK’s role would not be central even in Germany. So what mattered was how the UK positioned itself for the post-Cold War era. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who allowed emotion to outweigh realpolitik and principle, did not understand this. Somehow, the cumulative effect of relative economic decline, loss of empire, and membership of the EEC left the British unable to formulate and stick with any consistent and workable strategy; thus they became followers rather than leaders. Eastern Europe was, sadly, a lost cause for London in the Cold War years. And even though British policy towards the region did shift in the late 1980s, it was strategically of secondary importance as the Soviet Union’s European empire started to unravel. It was only in its support of EU enlargement to the region in the 1990s that the UK was able to act more sympathetically and expansively.
  • Soudobé dějiny, redakce, Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR, v.v.i., Vlašská 9, 118 40 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Document Type
Publication order reference
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