Germany: Setback for Ostpolitik

German unity is a possibility, nothing more but nothing less.

With those words, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt last January sought to underscore the uncertain outlook for his celebrated Ostpolitik, whose aim is to close the gap between the two halves of the divided nation. Last week, after a one-day summit meeting with East German Premier Willi Stoph in the West German city of Kassel, even that cautious phraseology seemed too optimistic. The results of the Kassel conference, Brandt conceded sadly, "prove once more how deep is the trench between the two parts of Germany."

If anything, the trench seemed deeper than...

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