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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany

The United States

The absence of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and East Germany had represented a reluctance to accord political legitimacy to East Germany. When the two governments signed diplomatic protocols in Washington on September 4, 1974, the SED could rightly claim that an unpleasant era had come to an end. In a practical sense, East Germans were interested in establishing relations with the "main imperialist power," but the prospects for these relations always depended on the overall condition of East-West relations and on Washington's support for Ostpolitik.

The major obstacle facing expanded trade relations was the unwillingness of the United States Congress to grant mostfavored -nation treatment to imports from East Germany. Since 1974 a number of governmental emissaries from East Berlin have passed through Washington in an effort to promote bilateral trade in the absence of such treatment. Despite their efforts, from 1980 to 1985, the United States declined from East Germany's twelfth to its twenty-eighth largest trading partner.

In the mid-1980s, political relations between the United States and East Germany have warmed somewhat. In 1984 Honecker's efforts to isolate inter-German relations from the effects of the decline of superpower détente won the regime some credit in Washington. A number of diplomatic exchanges between the two countries have occurred, including a meeting between East German foreign minister Oskar Fischer and United States secretary of state George Shultz in October 1984.

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The DDR Handbuch, compiled and published in West Germany under the direction of Hartmut Zimmermann, Horst Ulrich, and Michael Fehlauer, is an invaluable source of information on East Germany. Other important works include Henry Krisch's The German Democratic Republic, Hermann Weber's Geschichte der DDR, C. Bradley Scharf's Politics and Change in East Germany, Klaus von Beyme and Hartmut Zimmermann's Policymaking in the German Democratic Republic, and Martin McCauley's Power and Authority in East Germany. Notable works on East German foreign policy include Melvin Croan's East Germany: The Soviet Connection, A. James McAdams's East Germany and Détente, Eric C. Frey's Division and Détente, and articles by Ronald D. Asmus, B. V. Flow, Arthur M. Hanhardt, Jr., Walther Leisler Kiep, and Woodrow J. Kuhns. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of July 1987