Although both the international situation and the domestic course of events in the Federal Republic of Germany in the mid-1960s significantly changed as compared to the preceding decade, the CDU/CSU policies towards the countries of the Eastern bloc (including the GDR) had not undergone major changes. The main principles, already formulated under Konrad Adenauer in the mid-1950s, remained unchanged under the Erhard Government (1963-1966). However, as this study documents, CDU/CSU politicians were well aware of the fact that their policies no longer corresponded to the prevailing circumstances. They gradually adopted the view that it was no longer sufficient to be committed to the passive defence of the 1950's principles and to rely on their Western allies. For example, they considered negotiations with East Germany's politicians or civil servants on the possibility of the continued presence of Soviet troops on GDR territory even after the unification; on establishing diplomatic links with Eastern European states or the recognition of the border on the Oder and Nisa Rivers, at least until unification occurred. The main obstacle was that although many politicians would have been able to negotiate on at least one principle and offer minor concessions during their discussions with their Eastern partners, no sooner than a motion was raised then a majority of the party members would immediately organize themselves to protest vociferously against any such motion. Consequently, the CDU/CSU had not come to an agreement what should be done until the end of the Erhard Government. Pressure of public opinion was not strong enough and for this reason the CDU/CSU as a whole would not entertain any talk on the reforms of their German and Eastern policies. However, this does not mean that changes were not suggested by some individuals competent in foreign policy matters. On the contrary, many policy makers - convinced that changes to German and Eastern European policies were inevitable - submitted factual suggestions and called for widespread internal party discussion to take place at once. Using the example of the German and Eastern European policies of the CDU/CSU in the first half of the 1960s, this study demonstrates how important it is not to confuse the inability to act with 'ideological sterility' in the process of recapitulating and generalizing assessment. Even in places where a group might have stubbornly defended principles which did not correspond to the actual situation, one would usually find numbers of individuals calling for a change of direction. Yet, at the same time it is impossible to assess the political parties' shifts of attitude in terms of how far individuals proceded - it is necessary to start with how far a party as a whole or at least its leadership has travelled. For this reason, although this study concludes that no significant changes in German and Eastern European policies of the CDU/CSU occurred in the period under research, it would like to draw the readers' attention to the contemporary internal discussion which was quite compelling. In addition, a knowledge of internal party discussions contributes significantly to a proper understanding of the party's external behaviour.
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