West Germany and Namibia’s Path to Independence, 1969–1990. Foreign Policy and Rivalry with East Germany

  • Language: English
  • 284 pages
  • index
  • BNSS Vol. 21, 2019
  • Print: 978-3-906927-16-9
  • PDF: 978-3-906927-24-4
Thorsten Kern

West Germany and Namibia’s Path to Independence, 1969–1990. Foreign Policy and Rivalry with East Germany

Namibia’s main liberation movement, the South West Af-rica People’s Organisation (SWAPO), relied heavily on outside support for its armed struggle against South Africa’s occupation of what it called South West Africa. While East Germany’s solidarity with Namibia’s struggle for national self-determination has received attention, little research has been done on West Germany’s policy towards Namibia, which must be seen in the light of inter-German rivalry. The impact of the wider realities of the Cold War on Namibia’s rocky path to independence leaves ample room for research and new interpretations.
In this study Thorsten Kern shows that German division played a vital role in West Germany’s position towards Namibia during the Cold War. The two states’ deeply diverging policies, characterised in this context by competition for influence over SWAPO, were strongly affected by the Cold War rivalry between the capitalist West and the communist East. Yet ultimately, the dynamics of rapprochement helped to bring about Namibia’s independence.
This book is based upon a doctoral dissertation presented to the University of Cape Town in 2016. Kern conducted research in the National Archives of Namibia and in German archives, and his work draws on interviews with contemporary witnesses.

Thorsten Kern, who grew up in a town near Frankfurt am Main, Germany, studied Modern History in London and Cape Town. Years of working in various countries nourished his research interest in colonial and post-colonial history. He currently lives in China.

Foreword by Chris Saunders
1 The origins of rivalry over Namibia
2 Political Parties and SWAPO
3 SWAPO: the Bundestag and the Foreign Office
4 The decision-making process regarding Namibia
5 East and West German rivalry: the mid-to-late 1970s
6 East and West German rivalry: the early to mid-1980s
7 The mid-to-late 1980s
8 Conclusion

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