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PostHelmut Kohl and German Reunification (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 06/18/17 2:22 am)
Commenting on my post of 17 June, our esteemed Moderator asked for WAISer thoughts on Helmut Kohl's legacy.
Helmut Kohl (1930-2017) has the great merit of having masterfully steered the reunification of Germany through a huge mess of contrasting interests. Not only that, he pushed for the EU and the Euro as collateral to smooth the unification. Some politicians in the world did not like it. For instance, our former PM Giulio Andreotti stated, "I love Germany so much that I prefer to have two."
However "Unification" is not the right word, as Germany was never legally divided.
Let's go back to 1918. The government of Germany surrendered but its armies were still holding the fields as victors. Only on the Italian front was the Austo-Hungarian Empire defeated. This led to accusations of inside treason.
In 1945, the Reich Government did not surrender, only its various armies surrendered on various dates in various places.
In Italy the surrender was signed at the marvelous Reggia di Caserta on 29 April 1945, effective on 2 May in order to give Tito time to reach Trieste. (Thanks!) The negotiations had started in Switzerland on 3 March. The Authorities of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana were not informed, so the Kingdom of Italy betrayed its Allies in 1943 and the Germans betrayed the RSI in 1945. Mussolini knew about this only on 25 April. By such negotiations the Partisans were generally allowing the Germans to move Northward without opposition.
On the Western front the Germans surrendered on 7 May while on the Eastern front they did so on the night of 8/9 May.
According to Prof. Max Rheinstein's statement of 1948, Germany never had a single surrender by the government. It also never had a Peace Treaty while the power over the legally still-united Germany had been taken over by the four occupying countries.
In Moscow on 12 September 1990 with the Treaty 2 Plus 4, the four great powers recognised the continuation and union of the German state. They only tried to reduce its independence. It was agreed that Russia would remove its troops by 1994, but nothing was said about the foreign troops in West Germany. Moscow was envisaging a united Germany completely neutral and demilitarized, but it was deceived. Probably Gorbachev was already thinking about his future (disgusting) commercial spots for Pizza Hut.
JE comments: The "Stab in the Back" (Dolchstoßlegende) thesis for 1918 has been thoroughly debunked. Germany by this time was starving, and its armies in full-scale retreat. The argument of course gave one of many excuses for Hitler's persecution of the Jews.
And what about 1945? This sounds harsh, but doesn't unconditional surrender mean the victors can dictate any terms they like?