perceived as a cavalier attitude toward the truth." (Jarausch 1994, p24).
Of course, it turned out to be too late for the GDR government to correct any of these 'misunderstandings'. The GDR government would be destabilised and overthrown, in part by its own failings and in part by people power. It would then be absorbed into West Germany, a move that signalled the end of 44 years of a divided European heartland.
The unification of Germany might seem to be a sudden reversal of history following naturally on the fall of Communism in East Germany. This in fact is not the case. Preparation for this eventuality had begun in the early 1970s. By the 1970s Willy Brandt (Chancellor in 1969) began a series of policy initiatives towards the East under the notion of Ostpolitik. In 1970 and 1971 a series of treaties guarantied the western borders of Russia and Poland (further verified in 1991), and culminated in the broader Helsinki agreements of 1975, whereby the West recognized the borders of the Soviet Union and its European allies, in return pledging respect for a wide range of human rights (Zeman 1991, pp287-288; Jarausch 1994, p9; Stokes 1991, pp160-62). This was part of long term policy whereby the two Germanies could move closer together. As Brandt noted, 'what belongs together will grow together' (Rothwell 1990a, p11) Furthermore, concepts developed under the West German Basic Law (the nearest Germany had to a Constitution, since it was not felt appropriate to formulate a Constitutional document as such until unification had occurred, see Roskin 1992, p156) included the principles of sovereignty and unification. The preamble to the Basic Law, stated that 'the entire German people are called upon to achieve free self-determination and the unity and freedom of Germany' (Paterson & Smith, in Smith 1992, p10).
In essence, this gave West Germany an edge in opening a diplomatic and political dialogue with Eastern Europe (see Plock 1986), a position they could rapidly exploit once Gorbachev's reforms took place after 1987-1988. From the late 1980's, it was recognized by a number of German politicians that a stronger role for Germany could be found within the more unified Europe, and that the prospects of a unified Germany were tied to the success of Gorbachev's reforms. As noted by Zeman, in the late 1980's: -
The outlines of a new Europe began to emerge. In Bonn, Hans-Dietrich Genscher described the European community as a victory over national selfishness; and he added a sentiment which rang true to other Europeans, especially those with longer historical memories, and those who lived East of the great European divide. In a generous mood, Herr Genscher expressed the view that German history did not belong to the Germans alone, that it was a truly European history. He asked whether there were any Europeans on the other side of the divide, and he added that whatever brought Europeans closer together, would also bring the Germans closer together. (Zeman 1991, pp314-5; see Genscher 1988)
East Germany, in spite of its hard-line leadership, soon faced massive problems in the new international environment around them. In September 1989 it requested Hungary to close its borders to East German refugees, while by 'the end of the month, some 2,000 East Germans were packed in the garden of the West German Embassy in Prague' (Zeman 1991, p324). In fact, sensing the changes in Europe due to perestroika, many East Germans on holidays in the Eastern block began to congregate in Hungary, with its softer border into Austria a tempting option (Jarausch