Back to the video list: German History


In 1969 a coalition government, consisting of Social Democrats and Liberals, won the general election in Germany. The newly elected Chancellor Willy Brandt initiated a new policy towards the Eastern Bloc. Eventually, a dialogue with the socialistic GDR and other eastern states was established.






  • Date: 1969 - 1973
  • Location: Germany
  • Start: Announcing & realising the “Neue Ostpolitik“ (New Eastern Policy)
  • End: Political, social & economic agreements made between Germany & several Eastern Bloc countries


Parties & Persons Involved

  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • German Democratic Republic
  • Soviet Union
  • Poland
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Willy Brandt (1913 – 1992)
  • Egon Bahr (1922 – )



  • East-West conflict & Cold War
  • De facto two states on German soil:
    • Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)
    • German Democratic Republic (GDR)
  • Claim to sole representation since 1949 & Hallstein Doctrine since 1955
  • People see the coexistence of 2 German States more and more as a given reality
  • The objective of reunification is less present for the people
  • More & more third officially & unofficially recognise the GDR
  • Eastern bloc is economically underdeveloped & depends on western technology



  • Jul 1963: Willy Brandt & Egon Bahr present the fundamentals of the new eastern policy – “change through rapprochement”
  • 1967: The claim to sole representation & the Hallstein Doctrine are watered down by the Geburtsfehlertheorie (birth defect theorie)
  • 1969: The SPD-FDP coalition comes into power & implements the Neue Ostpolitik (new eastern policy)
    • “Change through rapprochement”/ convergence of the systems
    • 2 German states but 1 German nation
    • Abandoning the claim to sole representation
    • GDR should be an active partner in the policy of detente
    • Engagement for disarmament
    • Engagement in the CSCE
  • 19 Mar 1970: Summit of Erfurt between Willy Brandt & Willi Stoph
  • 12 Aug 1970: Treaty of Moscow – Recognition of the Oder-Neisse-line as Poland’s western border & inviolability of the inner German border
  • With the Treaty of Moscow the Brief zur Deutschen Einheit (letter on German unity) is handed overThe treaty “does not contradict the goal of the Federal Republic to seek peace in Europe in which the German people regain their unity in free self-determination.”
  • 07 Dec 1970: Treaty of Warsaw & Warsaw Genuflection – Recognition of the Oder-Neisse border
  • 03 Sep 1971: Four-Power Agreement with regards to Berlin – confirming the powers of the 4 former allies, securing free travel to Berlin & the FRG represents West Berlin internationally
  • 1971/72: Further treaties mostly concerning travelling to the GDR & the transit to West Berlin
  • 21 Dec 1972:Grundlagenvertrag (Basic Treaty), along with the letter on German unity:
    • Engagement in the CSCE
    • Inviolability of the inner German border
    • National jurisdiction only within the own borders
    • Respect for the independence of the other state
    • Exchange of permanent representatives
  • 18 Sep 1973: FRG & GDR become UN members
  • 11 Dec 1973: Treaties of Prague – Recognition of the existing borders


Consequences & Impact

  • Benefits for West Berlin & in the long-term for the people in East Germany
  • Establishment of an East-West dialogue
  • Independent German policy towards the eastern bloc
  • Strengthening of the (perceived) German division
  • Ambivalent evaluation with regards to the German reunification