Polish Fears of German Reunification
Once the Soviet Union and its East European Allies formed a military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, in May 1955, the Communist states formed a seemingly impenetrable block of land behind an "Iron Curtain." However, numerous conflicts continued to affect the member states of the Warsaw Pact. Poland and East Germany, for example, continued to engage in border disputes over the reestablished territorial boundaries following World War II. While the Soviet Union attempted to mitigate these relationships, the tense relationship between Poland and East Germany continued. In this CIA intelligence assessment of the possibility of an East and West German reunification from 1971 (nearly twenty years before it became a reality), the ongoing conflicts between these neighboring states provides an insight into the internal divides of the Warsaw Pact.
Central Intelligence Agency, "The Polish Question: East Germany," July 1971, CIA CIA Library (accessed June 27, 2007).
Anxiety concerning the possibility of German reunification has been voiced, from time to time, by a variety of Polish sources. To dismiss out of hand these Polish fears, however exaggerated and for whatever special purpose they are expressed, would be to concentrate too much on recent "demarcation" propaganda statements from East Germans, which are intended to strengthen East German bargaining positions vis-à-vis West Germany and to deflate the hopes of the East German public in regard to inter-German talks.
A number of alternative configurations for Middle Europe have been put forward over the years by various Eastern leaders -- Soviet, German, and Polish -- in reaction to the political -- potency of the reunification issue. The memory of these plans still influences Polish thought. And even if German reunification is a matter for the indefinite future, the fact that it remains an ultimate possibility also continues to exert influence on Eastern European, and especially Polish, foreign policy thinking. . .
With the erection of the [Berlin] Wall and the subsequent East German economic successes, the increasing self-confidence of the East German regime has become a new factor in the equation, and the Soviets have no longer been completely free to formulate German policy entirely in terms of their own interests. At the same time, the Soviet position on reunification has retained an element of ambivalence: for although the continued division of Germany would always be in the Soviet interest if all other factors were ignored, the Soviet vested interest in the division of Germany must now be reconciled with the growing Soviet concern to find a way to prevent Bonn from becoming the leading force in an integrated Western Europe.