Dealing with the Devil

East Germany, Détente, and Ostpolitik, 1969-1973

By M. E. Sarotte

328 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 illus., 4 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4915-6
    Published: April 2001
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6027-4
    Published: April 2003

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Using new archival sources--including previously secret documents of the East German secret police and Communist Party--M. E. Sarotte goes behind the scenes of Cold War Germany during the era of detente, as East and West tried negotiation instead of confrontation to settle their differences. In Dealing with the Devil, she explores the motives of the German Democratic Republic and its Soviet backers in responding to both the detente initiatives, or Ostpolitik, of West Germany and the foreign policy of the United States under President Nixon.

Sarotte focuses on both public and secret contacts between the two halves of the German nation during Brandt's chancellorship, exposing the cynical artifices constructed by negotiators on both sides. Her analysis also details much of the superpower maneuvering in the era of detente, since German concerns were ever present in the minds of leaders in Washington and Moscow, and reveals the startling degree to which concern over China shaped European politics during this time. More generally, Dealing with the Devil presents an illuminating case study of how the relationship between center and periphery functioned in the Cold War Soviet empire.

About the Author

Professor M. E. Sarotte teaches history at the University of Notre Dame.
For more information about M. E. Sarotte, visit the Author Page.


"Highly readable. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"In this excellent book, M.E. Sarotte explores the process of rapprochement between the German Democratic Repubic and the Federal Republic of Germany from 1969 to 1973 . . . . Sarotte deploys a wealth of archival evidence and reaches some new and fascinating conclusions. Overall, the book is lucidly written, thoroughly researched, and well structured . . . . This is a very impressive piece of scholarship, which should be consulted not only by historians of the former GDR but also by students of postwar international relations."--American Historical Review

"Sarotte has taken full advantage of the availability of new archival sources since 1990 to produce this important study of Ostpolitik which concentrates on the diplomatic, political and economic manoeuvrings of the period from the East German perspective. . . . A worthwhile book which will correct misconceptions and supplement our understanding of the motives and constraints of both Germanies."--German History

"An excellent piece of research, based on unpublished documents from party and state archives. . . . A rare example of truly international history. Its author used not only German sources and literature, but also American, French, and Russian material."--Journal of Cold War Studies

"Particularly deserving of praise is the author's significant accomplishment of proving conclusively a crucial point: the significance of the 'China factor.' She shows the escalation of the Sino-Soviet conflict and the US-Chinese rapprochement functioned as catalysts. . . . This book is in particular worth reading because it confirms that the relations between the two German states can only be understood in full consideration of the world politics of the time."--Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"This is an excellent and engagingly written study of relations between East and West Germany at a pivotal time in the evolution of detente between the superpowers. Sarotte brings to her story original documents that no other scholar has researched, and she analyzes them with great subtlety and sophistication. Her fascinating account should be read by anyone interested in Cold War history."--A. James McAdams, University of Notre Dame