Fall of Berlin Wall Caused Anxiety More than Joy at Highest Levels

Secret Documents Show Opposition to German Unification

Published on National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 293, by Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton, November 7, 2009.
(For more information contact: Svetlana Savranskaya/Thomas Blanton – 202/994-7000).

Washington, D.C., November 7, 2009 – The fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago generated major anxiety in capitals from Warsaw to Washington, to the point of outright opposition to the possibility of German unification, according to documents from Soviet, American and European secret files posted on the Web today by the National Security Archive …

… Former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski informed Soviet Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev, “I openly said that I am in favor of Poland and Hungary remaining in the Warsaw Treaty Organization. Both blocs should not be disbanded right now. I do not know what will happen if the GDR ceases to exist. There will be one Germany, united and strong. This does not correspond to either your or our interests.” 

One of the few highest-level expressions of joy over the fall of the Wall actually occurred in Moscow, in the diary of Gorbachev aide Chernyaev, who wrote on November 10, “The Berlin Wall has collapsed. This entire era in the history of the socialist system is over… That is what Gorbachev has done. And he has indeed turned out to be a great leader. He has sensed the pace of history and helped history to find a natural channel.”

The new documents, most of them appearing in English for the first time, are part of the forthcoming book, “Masterpieces of History”: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989, edited by the National Security Archive’s Svetlana Savranskaya, Thomas Blanton, and Vladislav Zubok and published by the Central European University Press (Budapest/New York) in the Archive’s Cold War Reader series edited by Malcolm Byrne. (full text).

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