H C Singh

Significance of Berlin Crisis

The so-called Berlin crisis appears to be prelude to a German crisis which, if not handled with foresight, may lead to world crisis. Against the western powers, what the Time calls a ‘winter offensive’ was launched when at the Russian – Polish friendship rally, Premier Khrushchev announced.

“The time has come when the powers who signed the Potsdam agreement should give up the remnants of the German occupation regime. The Soviet Union, on its part, will hand over these functions, which it still retains in Berlin, to sovereign German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the US, French and British can form their own relations with East Germany, if they still have questions about East Germany”.

This was Mr. Khrushchev’s another move on the chessboard of international politics. Mr. Khrushchev’s, it seems, know well the sentiments of German People and equally well the weak flanks of western alliances. Once again, he had taken the western capitals by surprise. The west, particularly the USA, found itself on the horns of a dilemma because only four days before Mr. Khrushchev’s announcement the US, Secretary of state, Mr. Dulles, had unwittily declared “We are most solemnly committed to hold West Berlin, of need be, by military force”(Time 24, November 1958).

Consequently, hasty consultations took place between Nato powers to find a way out, to checkmate Mr. Khrushchev’s latest move, ti regain diplomatic initiative from Soviet Union and to convince the Germans that the west does not stand in the way of fulfillment of their long cherished aspiration , freedom and unification, not only of Berlin but of the whole of Germany.

The Soviet Union has made it clear that, come what may, she will hand over the control of East Berlin to the government of East Germany. This was tantamount to a unilateral scrapping of Potsdam agreement of 1 August 1945 between the then four victorious allies. By this drastic step, Mr. Khrushchev had aimed at diverting the attention of the world from the lingering Quemoy crisis, winning the favour of the German people and compelling with the latter on all Berlin matters. The west was forced with the grim alternatives either to follow Mr. Khrushchev in relinquishing control over West Berlin or suffer the consequence of a pro-Soviet drift in the public opinion of West Berlin and West Germany.
But Mr. Khrushchev has something more in his sleeve. Behind the facade of Berlin crisis is Kremlin’s ultimate object in Europe – the disintegration of Nato alliance. Mr. Khrushchev is convinced that, given a free opportunity, both the East and West Germany will make any pay any sacrifice and pay any price for the unification of their fatherland. The aim of Soviet Foreign Policy is to make possible mutual negotiations between the East and West Germany, thereby paving the way for a re-unification of Germany at the price of its neutralization.

The west is under an illusion if it thinks it can maintain statusquo in power politics for all times to come. The Soviet Union is determined to break the chain of military alliances around her rimland. This is the major premise of Soviet diplomacy whether in the Far East, neat east or in Europe. The Kassem revolution in Iraq was triumph of Soviet diplomacy, where without firing a single shot the most vital links in the chain of western military alliance was broken. Similarly, the aim of Soviet diplomacy in Europe is first to weaken Nato alliance by neutralizing Germany and then to work for its complete disintegration.

It is in this context that implications of Berlin crisis are to be understood. As off-share islands of Quemoy and Matsu, may be six months or a year hence, will have to be evacuated, similarly after Russia has withdrawn east Berlin, the west will have to relinquish of a crisis in the far east which can not be resolved unless Peking in accorded recognition and US 7th fleet withdrawn to American waters, similarly the Berlin crisis which cannot be resolved unless Germany is reunified and Atlantic and Warsaw pacts dissolved.

No attempt is made to prove the ineffability of Soviet diplomacy. It is mostly the weakness of the west that the Soviet Union takes advantage of. In the game of cold war diplomacy, the west loses and the Soviet Union wins more often, because usually the west, knowingly or otherwise, finds itself on the side of an unjust cause and unpopular leaders. The soviet diplomacy will continue to add feathers to its cap so long as the west does not change its policy in accordance with the changing needs of time.

Germany cannot be unified on western terms and conditions because the Soviet Union, the German people and the whole world know that the position of the west is therefore weak: it is inherently so, both on the question of Berlin and German unification. Mr. Khrushchev’s announcement on Berlin has afforded an opportunity to western leaders, even from their own view point, to meet the Soviet leaders and know their mind better because, whether they like it or not, it is they whom they have to deal with, if they wish to untie the tangled knots and save the world, including themselves, from the scourge of a nuclear war. There is thus an urgent need for a summit meeting to talk over the east-west differences in general, and the problems arising out of the Berlin crisis in particular.

It will be unfortunate if Mr. Dulles argues that when toughness has paid in Quemoy why not in Berlin?Such a policy, of pursued by the west will sabotage the chances of Berlin settlement and may lead to a repetition of Berlin ‘blockade’ like that of 1948-49. Non- recognition of east Germany by west means as little as non-recognition of the Peking regime by USA. A blockade-policy today will be more dangerous and complicated because this time, the west will have to deal with un-recognised east Germany and not with its rally the USSR. In such an eventuality, Eisenhower administration will be committing a mistake of the same magnitude which the Truman population of West Germany is almost three times that of East Germany (50 millions and 18 millions respectively). Besides west Germany is highly industrialized.

In 1954 at conclusion of the Second World was, Ruhr fell to west’s share, which is the richest heavy industry centre of Europe, while East Germany is so deficient that she depended for her industries in the coal and steel imported from the other half of Germany. In view of such population and economic superiority of West- Germany, insistence by the west on free elections in the whole of Germany means nothing more than an attempt to pull east Germany into western orbit and add a dozen more divisions of sturdy German soldiers to the armoury of Nato. On the other hand, Soviet Union’s condition of unification of Germany in the basis of its neutralization appears more practical and acceptable to the German people. France and Britain may also welcome this proposal because, next to Russia, they bore the maximum brunt of the German onslaught. It is more true of France because the French, like the Russians, have experienced a German invasion twice in the first half of the 20th century and will prefer to have a demilitarized Germany. From a Germany, equipped with nuclear with nuclear weapons, even if it be on their side, the French have nightmares.

August 24, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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