Day September 11, 2009
The tensions that rocked the British government following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 are revealed in a series of Whitehall documents published today.
The papers throw fresh light on the struggle between Margaret Thatcher, prime minister at the time, and senior Foreign Office figures over German reunification.
As the Financial Times revealed yesterday, the documents show that Mrs (now Lady) Thatcher and François Mitterrand, the late French president, harboured fears that a united Germany would threaten Europe. They display the degree to which Mrs Thatcher clashed with Douglas Hurd, then foreign secretary, and Sir Christopher Mallaby, then ambassador to Bonn, who felt reunification was inevitable.
After Helmut Kohl, the West German chancellor, announced a 10-point plan for reunification on November 28, 1989, Mrs Thatcher expressed her opposition.
She told Mr Mitterrand in talks on December 8 that Mr Kohl had “no conception of the sensitivities of others in Europe, and seemed to have forgotten that the division of Germany was the result of a war which Germany had started”.
A separate memorandum by Charles Powell, her foreign policy adviser, underscores her opposition. “We do not want to wake up one morning and find that. . . German reunification is to all intents and purposes on us,” he wrote.