In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2010. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 147-162
German unification had various effects on the historiography of the two German states. Recent debates increasingly demand an approach that creates one single and connected history out of the development in the Federal and the Democratic Republic. In this article the possibility of the participation of the national communist parties in forming the governments in France and Italy – question arising in the 1970s – will be used as an example to underline the advantages of an interweaved analysis. To these ends, the sources of the ministries of foreign affairs in Bonn and East-Berlin have been used, and enriched by documents from the Politburo. Above all, the reports sent by the east- and west-German embassies in Paris and Rome demonstrate how the possible participation of the communist party in the French or Italian governments was interpreted as a menace for both states. For the GDR this menace was viewed more ideologically as the coherence of the Eastern countries appeared to be affected when communist parties in Western Europe were able to show that there was more than just the Soviet way leading to a communist society. On the other hand the Federal Republic was apprehensive of the fact that a government with communist participation could influence the military decisions in NATO or affect the integration of the European Community. Nevertheless, the participation of the communist parties in the forming of governments in France and Italy seemed to be more of a threat for the existence of the GDR than for Western Germany, which only tried to encourage strategies to meet the newly arisen challenge.