Armageddon des Kommunismus - Strategie, Wirtschaft und die DDR 1970-1990 by Bernd F. Schulte
|Reviewed By:||John A. Moses|
|Reviewed in:||Australian Journal of Politics and History|
|Date accepted online:||14/01/2008|
|Published in print:||Volume 53, Issue 03, Pages 465-504|
The Hamburg historian has here added to the already extensive list of his pioneering studies yet another major work. A work that reveals for the first time the secret machinations of West German big-business to infiltrate and cripple the industrial enterprises of communist East Germany is certainly breaking new ground. Historians of modern Germany are well aware of the revolutionary impact of the work of an earlier Hamburg historian, Schulte's doctoral supervisor, Fritz Fischer. His
Given Schulte's remarkable list of publications it is interesting to learn that he is not a professor at some renowned German university, but a self-supporting, free-lance historian. There may be an explanation in the fact that Schulte refuses to bow to political correctness, and is not afraid to unmask the frankly embarrassing political machinations perpetrated at the highest levels of the German economy. Schulte's record, though, demonstrates how important it is for an open society to have scholars who are not inhibited from going behind the archival scenes to find out "how it actually happened", to adapt a phrase made famous by Ranke.
In particular, Schulte's work illustrates how critical it is for the historian of international conflict to be aware of the industrial-economic potential of the competing powers and to understand how this as a
By virtue of his unusual determination to investigate the records of the relevant firms Schulte has developed a unique kind of historiography, one that conventional university historians would feel inhibited to practise. And herein lies the importance of his contribution. By tracing the deals made between "industry" in the West and the managers of the East German economy, Schulte has illustrated the total inefficiency and bankruptcy of so-called command economies. They were doomed to collapse from the very beginning, and fell to the illusion that they could possibly compete with the infinitely superior technical and economic expertise of the West. What is extremely interesting is to learn how the captains of West German industry played their roles in bringing about the implosion of the Warsaw Pacts putatively most efficient economy.
Schulte's extremely detailed research, accomplished without the luxury of paid research assistants, must be an embarrassment to the highly paid and sometimes frankly arrogant West German historians because he has pursued lines of enquiry that the established professors would be loath to do. This unconventional work has immensely enriched our knowledge of the internal history of the collapse of the Eastern bloc.