Officials mingled in the lobby of the Oktyabrskaia Hotel—shaking hands, sipping champagne, signing their names—and Germany was united. In this undramatic fashion, the international community closed the book on the drama of divided Germany. But nothing so momentous could be quite so quiet and uncomplicated, as this volume makes strikingly clear. This is the first book to go behind the scenes through access to still not opened archives in many countries. Germany Unified and Europe Transformed discloses the moves and maneuvers that ended the Cold War division of Europe.
Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, who served in the White House during these years, have combed a vast number of documents and other sources in German and Russian as well as English. They also interviewed the major actors in the drama—George Bush, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Eduard Shevardnadze, James Baker, Anatoly Chernyayev, Brent Scowcroft, Horst Teltschik, and many others. Their firsthand accounts merge to create a complete, detailed, and powerfully immediate picture of what happened. The book takes us into Gorbachev’s world, illuminating why the Soviet leader set such cataclysmic forces in motion in the late 1980s and how these forces outstripped his plans. We follow the tense debates between Soviet and East German officials over whether to crush the first wave of German protesters—and learn that the opening of the Berlin Wall was in fact one of the greatest bureaucratic blunders in human history. The narrative then reveals the battle for the future of East Germany as it took shape between West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the reform Communist leader, Hans Modrow—East Germany’s “little Gorbachev.” Zelikow and Rice show how Kohl and George Bush held off the reactions of governments throughout Europe so that Kohl could awaken East Germans to the possibility of reunification on his terms. Then the battle over the future of the NATO alliance began in earnest.
The drama that would change the face of Europe took place largely backstage, and this book lets us in on the strategies and negotiations, the nerve-racking risks, last-minute decisions, and deep deliberations that brought it off. It is the most authoritative depiction of contemporary statecraft to appear in decades.