This research paper discusses the policy conflicts which arose between the United States and other Western powers and the Soviet Union over the problem of Germany during the years 1945 through 1948. Those policy conflicts and the underlying events are analyzed from the perspectives offered by different interpretations of them by traditional, realist, revisionist and neo-revisionist schools of thought.
The wartime Western-Soviet alliance effectively dealt with the common Nazi German military threat. However, by the end of World War II, the victors had agreed on little more than to occupy, de-nazify and jointly administer their defeated and devastated German former enemy. The traditional approaches of the United States and the Soviet Union to foreign policy largely shaped their respective approaches to the German problem but left them ill-prepared to resolve their postwar differences over Germany. An initial period of partial cooperation was followed by a series of East-West confrontations and to a mutual hardening of positions which led to the armed division of Germany. American and other Western actions were largely motivated by fear of the spread of communist influence in Germany and elsewhere in Western Europe, which, after much uncertainty and confusion, coalesced around a policy of containing Soviet expansion based on a new 'realism.' The actions of the Soviet Union reflected the mindset of its dictator Josef Stalin whose methods largely undermined the accomplishment of his goals. Most early revisionist histories amounted to little more than leftist polemics. Later neo-revisionists help explain the source of some East-West misunderstandings and the largely ad hoc and unplanned nature of the actions of each side took on Germany, but they do not convincingly present viable Western policy solutions.
Wartime Decisions of The Big Three on Germany
In this century, the United States intervened twice in Europe in 1917-1918 ...