History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2011: Q.5 (c)

History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2011: Q.5 (c)

Q.5 (c) “The Collapse of Berlin Wall in 1989 brought new ideas of co-operation in Europe.” Critically evaluate.


The Berlin wall which was created in 1961 with an immediate reason of stopping the mass migration of people from East Berlin (controlled by the USSR) to West Berlin (controlled by western bloc led by the USA). However, the prime motive of erecting the wall was to find an escape route from the embarrassment over the poverty of East Berlin under communist rule in sharp contrast of prosperity in its western counterpart under capitalist regime.

However, by the time Mikhail Gorbachev took over the presidency of erstwhile USSR in 1985, things have been changed. The USSR’s economic position was of no match to the western powers. Also, Gorbachev policies of glasnost and perestroika were signaling liberal reforms in the political, social and economic sphere.
It is with this background that Gorbachev met with west Germany Chancellor Helmut Kohl and virtually promised him freedom of East Germany (and Berlin). This led to the collapse of Berlin wall. This  brought new ideas of co-operation in Europe because:

(1) After the collapse of the wall, East Germany and West Germany also got unified. The reunification of Germany once again after Bismarck led further socio-economic integration of Europe which got culminated into the European Union for which Germany became a vital part.

(2) The cooperation was extended by the western powers in East Vs West Berlin issue. The USA agreed that reunification could take place. The Great Britain and France, though were less happy about German unification (due to the possibility of increased Berman power) felt bound to go ahead with the flow.

(3) The co-operation between West Europe and East Europe including Russia increased as Europe was no longer divinded in blocs. The Cold War ended giving further hope for co-operation.

(4) Many Eastern European countries became part of European Union, which strengthened European unity.

(5) Europe also started co-operating more with rest of the world.

However the path of co-operation was not smooth and this included  confrontations also. Britain and France initially did not like umification of Germany due to possibility of even more powerful Germany. Membership of EU and NATO to Eastern European countries was despised by Russia. Also integrating poor East Germany to rich West Germany and poor East Europe with rich West Europe faced difficulties. There were also voices against co-operation and integration from many Europeans who feared loss of national identity, economic problems due to inte-gration.

Hence, the collapse of Berlin wall not only signified the end of communism and disintegration of the USSR but also new level of cooperation in Europe, inspite of facing obstacles.

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