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Susanne Maslanka: The Withdrawal of the GDR from the Warsaw Pact – Expectations, Hopes, and Disappointments in German-Soviet Relations During the Dissociation Process. [Abstract]

At first glance, the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) dissociation from the Warsaw Pact or Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO) appears as a success story. Even though the stakes were high, the process remained peaceful and relations between Germany and the Soviet Union/Russia were not plunged into crisis immediately afterwards. This article argues, however, that this seemingly successfully managed dissociation sowed the seeds for later conflicts between Russia and the West, as the GDR’s withdrawal from the WTO and transition to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) served as a blueprint for other WTO member states. Moreover, the dissociation led to internal political tensions within the Soviet Union. The internal conflict crystallised around ideational issues, among others the USSR’s status as a superpower. However, negotiations between the governments of Germany and the Soviet Union focused on material issues. The Soviet government was offered money to cover the more technical aspects of the dissociation process but, by and large, the ideational dimension was addressed only in the form of vague promises of a “common European security structure,” which ultimately never came to be established. This led to disappointments and accusations that persisted and were, for example, repeatedly used as a justification for Putin’s attacks on Ukraine.

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