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Friendly Enemies Britain and the GDR, 1949-1990 by Stefan Berger, Norman LaPorte

Friendly Enemies Britain and the GDR, 1949-1990



Friendly Enemies Britain and the GDR, 1949-1990 by Stefan Berger, Norman LaPorte

During the Cold War, Britain had an astonishing number of contacts and connections with one of the Soviet Bloc's most hard-line regimes: the German Democratic Republic. The left wing of the British Labour Party and the Trade Unions often had closer ties with communist East Germany than the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). There were strong connections between the East German and British churches, women's movements, and peace movements; influential conservative politicians and the Communist leadership in the GDR had working relationships; and lucrative contracts existed between business leaders in Britain and their counterparts in East Germany. Based on their extensive knowledge of the documentary sources, the authors provide the first comprehensive study of Anglo-East German relations in this surprisingly under-researched field. They examine the complex motivations underlying different political groups' engagement with the GDR, and offer new and interesting insights into British political culture during the Cold War.


Berger and LaPorte perform a great service by disentangling the strands of the informal relations between the two countries, as well as clarifying how these connections intersected with official government policies.This book should remain the industry standard on this topic for some time. Berger and LaPorte have based their work on exhaustive research in British and German archives, conducted dozens of interviews, and culled relevant articles from nearly forty periodicals. Furthermore, they have consulted the most recent secondary literature on this subject in both English and German. What is more, the writing is clear and straightforward. Finally, the stories contained in this volume hold a reader's interest. For those interested in the Cold War in Germany, this book is a necessary and worthwhile read.

* H-German

Although the 1970s and 1980s have been under-researched, Stefan Berger and Norman LaPorte succeed in covering diplomatic and political relations between East Germany and Great Britain from the foundation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The authors conducted research in more than thirty archives and interviewed several relevant politicians for background information. Their well-researched and balanced book sets the standard for further studies of the GDR's relations with other Western states.

* American Historical Review

Berger's and LaPorte's book is the first comprehensive overview of relations between Britain and the GDR. Going beyond the realm of diplomacy, it provides readers with detailed insights into a vast range of social and cultural contacts - it provides a wealth of new insights into the many contacts in the second half of the 1970s and in the 1980s - [and] convincingly demonstrate that relations between Britain and the GDR were not merely a footnote in twentieth-century European history.

* Bulletin of the German Historical Institute London

In Friendly Enemies: Britain and the GDR, 1949-1990, Stefan Berger and Norman LaPorte trace meticulously, and perhaps definitively, this intricate relationship - Berger and LaPorte analyse these critical friends in fascinating depth - Their final chapter is impressive in its coverage, and illuminating in its comparison of attitudes to the GDR in Britain with those in other countries.

* Socialist History

this fascinating new study by Stefan Berger and Norman LaPorte provides the first definitive account of relations between Britain and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) at the diplomatic, political, cultural and economic levels - this an excellent study, offering both rich empirical material and far-sighted judgments on the GDR and the British Left (broadly defined) during the Cold War period. It successfully demonstrates why we should be interested in a relationship which, paradoxically, few on either side were interested in at the time

* German History

This study's scope and the research on which it is based are truly impressive. Throughout the book's four chronological chapters and its lengthy conclusion, the authors convincingly demonstrate that the SED's efforts met with the most success in the left wing of the Labour Party and the trade unions - Let us hope that Berger andLaPorte's important study will encourage international historians to devote more attention to the interactions that developed below the governmental level between countries on either side of the Iron Curtain

* German Studies Review

About the Author

Stefan Berger is Professor of Modern German and Comparative European History at the University of Manchester, where he is also Director of the Jean-Monnet-Centre of Excellence. Between 2003 and 2008 he directed the European Science Foundation Programme on 'Representations of the Past. The Writing of National Histories in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Europe' (NHIST). He has published widely in the areas of historiography, national identity and labour history. Norman LaPorte is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Glamorgan. He has published widely on German and comparative communism as well as British-East German relations, including The German Communist Party in Saxony. 1924 - 1933 (Peter Lang, 2003). He is a co-founding editor of the journal Twentieth Century Communism.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st December 2014


Stefan Berger, Norman LaPorte

More books by Stefan Berger, Norman LaPorte
Author 'Like for Like'


Berghahn Books


400 pages


The Cold War
European history

International relations



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