Friday, January 3, 2014

Hallstein Doctrine

Flags of West Germany (left) and East Germany (right)
In the 1950’s, Germany was in the middle of the Cold War. The German nation was in the center of issue between the ongoing tensions between the capitalist and democratic West and the communist East. The West German state, known as the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was in the process of reconstruction and economic development. Under its chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, the country positioned itself towards the west and also towards European integration. However, the Eastern German State, known as the German Democratic Republic or GDR, positioned itself towards communism and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). To unite the country once again, Adenauer must prevent the recognition of the other German State.

As the era of 1950’s entered, both Germanies contend for recognition. Adenauer announced that the Federal Republic Germany was the sole representative of the will of the German people and the eastern regime as a puppet renegade state supported by the USSR. In response to the announcement, the GDR leader, Walter Ulbricht, also did the same. He announced that the GDR was also the sole representative of the Germans.  For recognition, the victory went to Adenauer, with all nations, except the communist bloc nations, recognizing the Federal Republic of Germany.

Ulbricht and his Soviet patrons devised a new way to give GDR the recognition of the world. Ulbricht thought that if West Germany was the first German State recognized by the world, then he would just have to be the second German State. The Soviets then supported Ulbricht on the plan to be recognized as a second German state. The communist planned that if West Germany would recognize the USSR that meant that it also recognized the existence of the GDR. The Soviets made Adenauer recognized the USSR by using World War II German POWs as blackmail. The blackmail became effective and in September of 1955, Adenauer arrived in Moscow and the relation between the USSR and the FRG was established. Along with new relation, Adenauer returned to Bonn, the capital of the FRG, with a huge increase in his popularity as he came home with the POWs.

The next phase of the plan included the use of the non-aligned countries that participated on the April 1955 Bandung Conference. Because of Adenauer’s visit to the USSR, it signaled to the non-aligned countries of Egypt, India, and Yugoslavia, that maybe it was alright to establish relations with the GDR. Back in West Germany, Adenauer’s government feared that if the nations of Egypt, India, and Yugoslavia, would recognize the GDR, other countries would follow soon and the idea of a unified Germany would fade away.

To prevent any recognition of the GDR as a state, the Adenauer government launched a new scheme. In December 1955, the Foreign Minister of the FRG announced that West Germany would immediately sever ties with any states that would recognize the GDR. The press dubbed the policy as Hallstein Doctrine, named after Foreign Deputy Minister, Walter Hallstein. The doctrine aimed to deter any nations from recognizing the GDR if they wanted to continue good relations with the economically strong West Germany.

Because of the Hallstein Doctrine, the FRG immediately won’t send any missions or have any contacts with Warsaw Pact communist member countries, off course, with the exception of the USSR.

Some non-aligned nations were sampled by the Hallstein Doctrine. First was the Communist non-aligned state of Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito. Tito recognized the GDR on October of 1957. As a result of Tito’s decision, West Germany immediately cut all ties with Yugoslavia. Following Yugoslavia was the small communist state of Fidel Castro, Cuba. In January 1963, Cuba and the GDR exchanged ambassadors and established diplomatic relations. As a punitive course, the FRG broke ties with Fidel Castro. With the sample nations, other nations were deterred from recognizing the GDR.

Many nations feared the loss of trade and investment from the FRG if they recognized the GDR, nevertheless, they many nations took a loop hole. Even if the GDR was a communist, good relations with them could mean aids and investments, so many nations continued relations with them. Similar to the situation of Taiwan today, states sent commercial offices as proxy to embassies to the GDR and in return the GDR also sent offices abroad. These states having transaction with the GDR never official announce their recognition of the GDR to prevent angering the FRG.

The idea of the Hallstein Doctrine from preventing the GDR as well as a divided Germany from being recognized became somewhat a failure. The doctrine itself did not prevent the erection of the Berlin Wall that became the symbol of German division. After decades of imposition, the Doctrine itself became impractical as it narrows the trade markets and influence of the Federal Republic.

The Hallstein Doctrine began to wane during the 1960’s. It was during the term of Willy Brandt as Foreign Minister that weakened it. With Brandt, the FRG began dialogue with some communist nations, including Yugoslavia and Romania. The Hallstein Doctrine eventually ended when Willy Brandt became the Chancellor of West Germany and announced a more practical and engaging foreign policy called Ostpolitik or towards the East.

See Also:

Cronin, J. The World the Cold War Made. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Dijk, R. et. al. editors. Encyclopedia of the Cold War. New York: Routledge, 2008.

Kitchen, M. A History of Modern Europe. Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. 

Smith, J. & Simon Davis. Historical Dictionary of the Cold War. Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2000.  

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