West Germany and Namibia’s Path to Independence, 1969–1990, by Thorsten Kern
With great sophistication, in his study, West Germany and Namibia’s Path to Independence, 1969–1990, Thorsten Kern traces how relations between the two Germanys changed over time.
[...] It is the Cold War rivalry between the two Germanys in relation to Namibia that Thorsten Kern chose as the topic for his doctorate at the University of Cape Town. He has now revised his thesis for this publication. Drawing on extensive and careful research, he tells the story in rich detail, of rivalry between the two Germanys in relation to Namibia in the 1970s and 1980s, which he sets in both a European and Southern African context, weaving political developments in West Germany into changing policy on such matters as the closure of the West German consulate in Windhoek and cultural ties with the German community in South West Africa/Namibia. Kern writes with admirable clarity on what is a highly complex topic, involving, on the one hand, relations between the two Germanys that changed over time, and, on the other, relations between each Germany and those involved with the Namibian issue, ranging from South African lobby groups to the main Namibian liberation movement, the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO). Though, as Kern fully acknowledges, previous studies have been undertaken on aspects of this story, what sets his book apart and gives it its main importance, is that it is based on a wealth of archival material not previously used by scholars. This is primarily because a thirty-year rule (Sperrfristen) had blocked access to the main German archives before Kern undertook his research. He trawled through various German archives, including the Political Archive of the West German Foreign Office (PAAA), the Foundation for the Archives of the Parties and Mass Organizations of the GDR (SAPMO) at the Bundesarchiv, and the GDR Ministry of State Security Archive (BStU) in Berlin, as well as the archives of West German political parties. He used the National Archives of Namibia in Windhoek and conducted interviews with key individuals. Especially useful for those who do not easily read German, he draws upon a wide range of relevant secondary sources, many of which are in German. His main focus is on FRG policy on the Namibian issue in the 1970s and 1980s. In West Germany the different political parties that formed coalition governments in these decades -the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Liberals (FDP) under Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt; the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the FDP under Helmut Kohl disagreed on what strategies West Germany should pursue on the question of Namibia. Some had conservative sympathies for the apartheid state that occupied Namibia, while others wanted no dealings with it. Economic considerations, however, meant that the FRG was reluctant to challenge South Africa over Namibia. Kern shows how, as a non-permanent Western member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the FRG played an active part in the Western Contact Group (WCG), which was established to get both South Africa and SWAPO to agree to a plan for a transition to Namibian independence. At the same time, successive FRG's coalition governments sought to protect the interests of the Germans in the former colony and at different stages of the negotiations the 'South Westers' there were able to influence FRG policy. Kern also analyses in detail the power struggles in the West German bureaucracy, between say the West German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Foreign Office. [...]
This is an excerpt from: West Germany and Namibia’s Path to Independence, 1969–1990, by Thorsten Kern.
Title: West Germany and Namibia’s Path to Independence, 1969–1990
Subtitle: Foreign Policy and Rivalry with East Germany
Author: Thorsten Kern
Series: Basel Namibia Studies Series, 21
Publisher: Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Basel, Switzerland 2019
ISBN 9783906927169 / ISBN 978-3-906927-16-9
Softcover, 17 x 24 cm, 284 pages
Kern, Thorsten im Namibiana-Buchangebot
West Germany and Namibia’s Path to Independence, 1969–1990
West Germany and Namibia’s Path to Independence, 1969–1990: Foreign Policy and Rivalry with East Germany.