Primary Source

Bonn Embassy cable, The German Question and Reunification


As events in Eastern Europe and especially in East Germany continued to pick up the pace, speculation began to grow, both within the two Germanies and internationally, that German reunification was once again a topic for debate. The West European had already speculated that West Germany might abandon its commitment to NATO and the European Community in favor of reunification. West German politicians quickly saw that public pronouncements about the potential for any sort of reunification needed to be toned down.

This excerpt from a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, Germany to Washington is part of a detailed analysis regarding the long history of West Germany's approach to reunification and the current status of the debate surrounding the so-called "German question." Of note in this analysis is the conclusion by the embassy that any steps toward German reunification would be gradual and most likely take the form of a federation of two states, not complete reunification. The report cites many different West German officials and argues that even though Gorbachev has signaled a willingness to promote reform, the idea of allowing German unification is not of immediate concern. This analysis by the embassy was echoed by many others, both in West Germany and abroad, that change would come gradually. The rapid speed that the East Germans, however, moved the discussion from reform to reunification would soon force a sea change in public and global opinion. In less than a year from the date of this report, the two Germanies would be re-united on October 3, 1990.

U.S. Embassy Bonn, "Bonn Embassy cable, The German Question and Reunification," October 1989, Making the History of 1989.


Bonn Embassy to U.S. Secretary of State, "The German Question and Reunification," 25 October 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

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Bonn Embassy cable, The German Question and Reunification in World History Commons,