Events – Conference


Zweiter Kalter Krieg und Friedensbewegung:
Der NATO-Doppelbeschluss in deutsch-deutscher und internationaler Perspektive

March 26 – 28, 2009
Conference at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin
Sponsored by the German Historical Institute, Washington, DC (GHI)
and the Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) Munich-Berlin

Convenors: Philipp Gassert (GHI), Tim Geiger (IfZ), Hermann Wentker (IfZ)

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In this year of marathon commemorations (2009), an important milestone in the Cold War unjustly gets overlooked: the NATO Double-Track Decision of December 12, 1979. At that time, NATO decided that, in case arms control negotiations with the USSR should fail, the intermediate nuclear forces of the West should be modernized to provide a counterweight to the new Soviet SS-20 missiles. This directly affected international relations as well as domestic developments in European and North American societies: Alongside the almost simultaneous Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the NATO decision marked a shift from an era of reduced tension in international politics to a newly heightened East-West confrontation in the “Second Cold War.”

In many Western societies, the decision mobilized domestic political protest movements. Societal resistance manifested itself on a scale hitherto unseen: protesters organized human chains, sit-ins, and mass demonstrations. But east of the “Iron Curtain,” as well, the idea of peace moved a lot of people.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the NATO Double-Track Decision, this conference, jointly organized by the Institute of Contemporary History Munich-Berlin and the German Historical Institute of Washington, DC, aims to illuminate this historic landmark on the basis of the most recent research and newly accessible sources. In order to internationalize contemporary history, it addresses not only the central role of West German-American relations in this decision, but also the greater European picture. It focuses on the politics and societal reactions in Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, France, and Poland in addition to the rival superpowers, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

With this focus, the NATO Double-Track decision becomes embedded in its transatlantic, intra-European, and social contexts. We are interested in connecting state and society, as well as global and domestic politics. Moreover, we aim to highlight transnational cooperation among the peace movement(s) and the elite networks of the so-called strategic community. What long-term consequences followed from the confrontation between the political “establishment” and the peace movement? In the final analysis, did the Double-Track Decision, perhaps, paradoxically set the stage for ending the Cold War? At this conference, leading experts from Germany, Europe, and the U.S. will try to find answers to these questions.

In addition, in a roundtable discussion, prominent surviving witnesses will reflect on the questions that were so hotly debated in their day, including Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher; Karsten Voigt, coordinator for German-American cooperation who was the spokesperson on foreign affairs for the SPD faction in the Bundestag at that time; Rainer Eppelmann, a minister “moved by peace” in East Berlin and the last defense minister in the GDR; and Marieluise Beck, a founding member of the Green Party and a parliamentary member of the Auswärtiger Ausschuss [Committee on Foreign Relations].

Location: Hertie School of Governance, Quartier 110 – First Floor, Friedrichstraße 180, 10117 Berlin
Forum of Surviving Witnesses: same location – Fourth Floor (Auditorium Friedrichstraße)