Leeds History First

Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Schmidt, awkward partners? A reassessment of Anglo-West German relations between 1979 and 1982

The political partnership between Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of West Germany between 1974 and 1982, is often overlooked. Much of the co-operation and consultation between the two leaders occurred in private, and its full extent has only recently become public record. As a result of this lack of information in the public domain, scholars initially favoured examining Thatcher’s political partnerships with other foreign leaders, particularly the ‘Special Relationship’ with US President Ronald Reagan. Nonetheless Anglo-West German relations in this period were central to Thatcher’s foreign policy considerations in at least three areas: Europe, the NATO alliance and arms sales. These will be examined through research in a range of government records from the National Archives, London. The study will also use memoirs of relevant political figures, some of which remain only published in German, as well as the relatively limited existing historiography, to consolidate the primary research base. This paper will highlight the depth and breadth of the Thatcher-Schmidt political partnership, while arguing that the two leaders treated each other with a greater degree of respect and importance than the prevailing scholarship has claimed.

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This entry was posted in 1950-1999, 20th Century, Britain and Ireland, England, Germany, HIST3800, Political History, Undergraduate dissertation and tagged , , , .

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