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Aleksanteri Conference







Bicknell, Lisa:

Action, Reaction and Interaction: Ostpolitik and Poland, 1969-1972

When it comes to peaceful interaction during the Cold War period, the German “New Eastern Policy” is highly praised and chancellor Willy Brandt, the official political actor, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 in acknowledgment of the outcomes. So far, much has been said about the actions of the German Government in this period. For a complete analysis there is much information to be gathered not only from political speeches and agreements, but also from a substantial number of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs of those influencing and implementing the new policy, such as Egon Bahr, Helmut Schmidt and Willy Brandt himself. Their efforts none withstanding, it is now time to analyze the re-action of the “East”, i. e. the states on the other side of the Iron Curtain, if we wish to define the Cold War interaction connected to the new policy.

The proposed paper will make a start in this approach by taking a close look at the Polish reactions to the steps taken by the German Government from 1969-1972. The Polish Weekly Newspaper Polityka will serve as the main source of information. Chief editor Mieczyslaw Rakowski and his colleges were confined by the official communist agenda; however, the given views are more liberal than those of the daily (propaganda) newspapers Tribuna Ludu and Zycie Warszawy. In addition to the official views, an analysis of the more independent catholic newspaper Tygodnik Powszechny, will help enlarge our insight into the political and common opinion within Poland and among the Polish people. This approach, ideally enhanced by further sources, is crucial in understanding the long-term effects of the “New Eastern Policy”. The level of interaction “provoked”, searched for and realized will determine its overall value.

Thursday 29 Oct 13.45-15.45 SESSION 2
Panel: Breaching the Wall: Ostpolitik/Westpolitik and Trade