Michael Mayer: “Subreption of Power by Using Felt Slippers.” The Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic and the Possible Participation of the Communist Party in France and Italy in the Forming of the Government in the Nineteen-Se


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.

Über den Autor

Michael Mayer, Dr. phil., geb. 1974, 1996–2002 Studium der Neueren und Neuesten Geschichte, Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Kommuniktationswissenschaften sowie Volkswirtschaftslehre an der Universität Mainz, der Université de Paris IV – Sorbonne sowie der Universität München; 2002–2003 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Seminar für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Universität München; 2003–2007 binationale Promotion an der Universität München und der École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) Paris; 1999–2002 und 2003–2006 Stipendiat der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung; seit Januar 2008 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Abteilung im Auswärtigen Amt; Lehrbeauftragter an der Universität Potsdam und Vertrauensdozent der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Veröffentlichungen u. a.: Staaten als Tater. Ministerialburokratie und „Judenpolitik“ in NS-Deutschland und Vichy-Frankreich. Ein Vergleich, München 2010; Hg. im Auftrag des Auswärtigen Amts vom Institut für Zeitgeschichte: Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1978, München 2009; Mithg.: Deformation der Gesellschaft. Neue Forschungen zum Nationalsozialismus, Berlin 2008.