Beyond Berlin Is There a New “Balance of Forces”?
THE DIFFERENCES between the Soviet Union and the United States have become increasingly intractable. One is reluctantly reminded of the agonizing situation that prevailed in Europe in 1938 or even 1939. More than one survivor of the 1930′s has been struck by the startling resemblance between the conflict over Danzig and that over Berlin. Even some of the same words have come back to haunt us. The Soviets want to make West Berlin into a “free city”; the last “free city” was Danzig-hardly an auspicious precedent. In the spring of 1939, a notorious French appeaser, Marcel Deat, wrote a then scandalous article, “Mourir pour Dantzig?” Why should Frenchmen die for a faraway city that was one of the First World War’s most abnormal legacies? Four months later, war broke out. It is impossible today to think of Deat’s article as anything but a historical curiosity; serious students hardly bother to dispute whether the war was fought over Danzig, except possibly as the symbolic expression of a larger conflict. And yet, change a few names and details, and Deat’s article could be-and virtually is being-written today as a contemporary document on our own dilemma.
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