The Two Germanys, the Cold War and the impassable Nazi Past
: Israelpolitik, 1949-1965

  • Lorena De Vita

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis offers a new interpretation of the policies that the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic implemented towards the State of Israel between 1949 and 1965 (their Israelpolitik). Previous works on German-Israeli relations in this era generally focus on the relations that one German state had with Israel. The other Germany languishes off stage, the focus of the various historiographical analyses being either on the relations between West Germany and Israel or East Germany and Israel. Instead, this thesis demonstrates that the history of both Germanys’ relations with Israel is also a history of German-German relations and of their peculiar Cold War rivalry. Both Germanys attributed pivotal importance to the dissemination of specific messages concerning their respective attitudes to the Nazi past. In turn, this aspect was central to both Germanys’ Israelpolitik and to the self-definition of each Germany within the Cold War system. Analysing the evolving Israelpolitik of the FRG and GDR thus also means engaging with the analysis of the legacy of the past on the conduct of foreign relations. Moreover, the political stance that one or the other Germany adopted towards Israel could be used to portray the German state in question as taking sides within the Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus Israelpolitik raised issues that, for both Germanys, were uniquely related to conflicts that existed independently of, but shaped and were shaped by, the Cold War.
Date of Award06 Jun 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorHoward Craig (Supervisor) & R Gerald Hughes (Supervisor)

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