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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Austria and German Unification

Documents on Austria’s role in the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the country’s position toward German Unification. Originally published with a Working Paper by Michael Gehler and Maximilian Graf. See also German Reunification.

Image: Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky meets with the new Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the GDR, Hans Modrow, on 24 November 1989.

  • June 08, 1989

    Assessment Paper by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, '[Excerpt] Eastern Europe; Current Assessment'

    The paper addresses the change in economics, politics, and social structures in the Soviet bloc (Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and the GDR) as a result of the USSR loosening up regulations.

  • June 26, 1989

    Memorandum of Conversation Foreign Ministers Alois Mock (Austria) and Gyula Horn (Hungary)

    Transcript of official visit between Foreign Minister Horn (Hungary) with Foreign Minister Mock (Austria). In it they discuss Western European integration including Hungary's participation, the Europe Free Trade Agreement, and Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. They continue with the development of Eastern Europe elaborating the developments with the Warsaw Pact, Hungarian/USSR relations, reforming Hungarian policy, and Austria's place in these changing times.

  • September 08, 1989

    Ambassadors’ Conference at the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Vienna

    Summary of discussion between Austrian Foreign Minister Erich Maximilian Schmid and ambassadors from Belgium, Finland, Yugoslavia, Luxembourg, and Sweden about the state of Eastern Europe, the decline of the arms race, and Western reactions to German Reunification.

  • September 19, 1989

    Analysis by Envoy Thomas Nowotny, 'The Specter of German Reunification'

    The report discusses the conflicting views from countries such as the US and USSR surrounding German Reunification. It later explains predicted demographics, economics, and military prowess of a unified Germany.

  • October 12, 1989

    Assessment Paper by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, '[Excerpt] Eastern Europe; General Assessment'

    The Assessment Paper outlines new change is Eastern Europe, mostly surrounding political and economic diversification, following Gorabachev's leadership in the USSR. The report then evaluates the GDR's economy, emigration, and anticipated political changes in light of the new geopolitical climate.

  • November 10, 1989

    Johann Plattner, Austrian Foreign Ministry, 'Debate on German Reunification; Information and Language Regime'

    In light of Kohl & Gorbachev's joint statement (June 13, 1989), the Head of the Department for Western and Northern Europe of the Political Section of the Austrian Foreign Ministry discusses German reunification, the Berlin Question, and Detente. The report discusses the resistant attitudes of the West, with the exception of the US, towards German reunification.

  • November 24, 1989

    Memorandum of Conversation Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow, East-Berlin

    The conversation details various changes needed in the GDR, including within the economy, electoral law, and foreign relations. They further discuss Austria's role in the two German states.

  • November 24, 1989

    Information by the East German Office of National Security on the Austrian Assessment of the Situation in the GDR and the Development of Austrian–East German Relations, Berlin (East)

    The document recounts the discussion between party officials from Austria's People's Party and Socialist Party in regards to changing developments in East and West Germany. Based on historical, political, and economic precedent, the overwhelming sentiment is against reunification. However, due to the rapidness of political events in the GDR the Socialist Party had yet to decide how to react. The parties then outline a plan to establish connections from both East and West German leadership as well as resistance movements in Hungary, Poland, and Yugoslavia.

  • December 07, 1989

    Johann Plattner, Austrian Foreign Ministry, 'Program of Chancellor Kohl on German unification; Reaction of the Western states'

    The document outlines other countries' reactions to the prospect of German Reunification. The fears of France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg are cataloged. In addition, Western allies such as the United States, United Kingdom, and France are marked as being hopeful for the upcoming reunion of the two states.

  • December 22, 1989

    Johann Plattner, Austrian Foreign Ministry, 'Visit of [Mock] to Great Britain (19–21 December 1989); Meeting of Envoy Plattner with Department Head Synnott'

    The report relays a meeting between Austrian and British foreign ministry officers concerning potential German reunification. It elaborates that both countries are concerned about reunification pushed for by protest movements and happening outside European peace negotiations - potentially compromising USSR Security.

  • January 26, 1990

    Austrian Foreign Ministry, '[Excerpt] East German Report on Modrow’s visit to Vienna on 26 January 1990'

    The document relays a conversation between East German and Austrian officials about Austria's commitment to potential reunification. The document addresses the possibility in two parts. The first half focuses on leniency with travel and economic reforms including visa-less travel and potential car taxes. The second part focuses on the greater European Cold War balance and addresses topics such as disarmament and inter-bloc cooperation.

  • January 30, 1990

    Memorandum of Conversation Foreign Ministers Alois Mock (Austria) and Oskar Fischer (GDR), Vienna

    The document is an agenda of a meeting between Austrian Foreign Minister Mock and the Eastern German Foreign Minister Fischer. The talking points include visa requirements, car taxes, German reunification, the CSCE, Austria's neutrality policy, and a potential European Confederation.

  • February 21, 1990

    Assessment by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, 'Question of German Unity (State of affairs, February 1990)'

    The assessment by the Austrian Foreign Ministry of German Unity is broken into five subject areas. The first part concerns the responsibility of the Four Powers to a new unified Germany. Next, West Germany's commitment to German unity dating as far back as 1970. The third portion outlines the border and security concerns of East and West Germany, as well as the Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and France. The next part is focused on economic recovery, specifically the lack of certain goods in East Germany (ie cars and houses). Finally, the report addresses the future developments of a unified Germany with an emphasis on the security of nearby states.

  • April 02, 1990

    Assessment by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, 'German Unity, State of affairs in April 1990'

    The document is an updated assessment of German reunification from the Austrian foreign ministry. The assessment begins with addressing three areas which include integrating economic and monetary systems, unifying under current legal framework, and the drop in GDR emigration after the 1990 elections. The next portion focuses on external relations including the new Four Power responsibilities, European political-military affairs, Poland's Western Border, the eradication of the Berlin agreement, and Western European countries influence specifically on intelligence activities. The final part solely concerns Western Germany's projected timeline for total reunification.

  • April 26, 1990

    Johann Plattner, Austrian Foreign Ministry, 'The General Secretary’s [Thomas Klestil] Political Exchange of Views in Bonn (24 April 1990)'

    The document entails interviews with several Austrian and German officials and recounts their views on various issues surrounding German reunification. The first is an interview with State Minister Adam-Schwater where the primary focus is monetary unification and budgetary restrictions for integration. The second interview is with State Secretary Sudhoff revolves around European issues such as the CSCE, security, border issues, and the time frame for reunification. The notes from State Secretary Lautenschlager reiterate the need for monetary integration in addition to expressing Austria's desire for a European Coalition. The fourth section are notes from both Chancellor Kohl and Ministerial Director Teltschik. In it they reiterate East Germany's desire for reintegration and outline four pressing needs - decisions from the 2+4 agreements, a new security structure, disarmament, and economic development. Finally there are notes from the CSCE Summit, where Austria is asked to evaluate other Eastern European countries (specifically Yugoslavia) and evaluate neutrality in a changing European order.

  • May 07, 1990

    Memorandum of Conversation Chancellor Franz Vranitzky – President François Mitterrand, Bordeaux

    The document is a summary of a meeting between French President Francois Mitterand and Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, and Vranitzky's ensuing presentation on democracy in Eastern Europe. This included Austria's duties and obligations to this process. Both ministers proceeded to reflect on their country's relationship with Germany both past and future.

  • May 08, 1990

    Memorandum of Conversation Chancellor Franz Vranitzky – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, London

    The document contains a conversation between Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher begins with the state of internal affairs in Great Britain then relates its position to the European Union and role in German Unification. The conversation then turns to the role of Austria and its effort to join the European Commission. In the wake of problems in Eastern Europe, Thatcher stresses her preference for Western Europe to avoid involving itself in the counter movements.

  • July 18, 1990

    Johann Plattner, Austrian Foreign Ministry, 'German Unity; State of Affairs in mid-July 1990'

    The report assesses German unity in three parts. The first regards internal factors of integration such as integrating monetary systems and elections. The next portion regards external factors, focusing mainly on the USSR's parameters for reunification regarding NATO and Poland's western border. Finally, the report assesses German reunification and predicts the process will be complete by the end of the year (1990). In addition, it discusses the positive prospects for European Unity and emphasizes Austria's role in binding a newly united Germany to Western Europe.

  • July 19, 1990

    Sucharipa, Austrian Foreign Ministry, 'German Unification, Soviet Position'

    The document discusses the Soviet position on German unification in six separate parts. The first deals with confusion over Gorbachev's better than expected consent to unification. Second are the potential domestic and foreign policy reasons the USSR consented so readily to unification, followed by the third part which outlines potential Soviet benefits from the process. The fourth section discusses the autonomy of the new German government, which is backed up with the fifth section discussing public sentiment. The final portion discusses the fine line for both the Soviet Union and the West between being overbearing on Germany's new independence and not helping enough.

  • September 20, 1990

    Final Report by Ambassador Bauer, '4 ½ Years in Bonn; Attempt on Prospects'

    The document discesses the coalition between Austria and newly united Germany. It highlights the similar political views the countries shares and stresses its economic conflicts. The document continues weighing how to best unite Germany economically and its possible effects on the European Union. It ends with a commitment to ensuring Germany enters the European Union as an equal member.