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The Hallstein Doctrine, named after Walter Hallstein, was a key doctrine in the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany marker after 1955. It established that the Federal Republic would not establish or maintain diplomatic relations with any state that recognized the German Democratic Republicmarker (GDR, East Germany). Important aspects of the doctrine were abondoned after 1970 when it became difficult to maintain and the Federal government changed its politics towards the GDR.


In diplomacy the non-recognition of another state, and the discouraging of third states to do the same, is an old instrument. In the first years after the establishing of the communist Soviet Unionmarker and Red Chinamarker, the United States of Americamarker refused to have diplomatic contact with them, and similar were the cases of the partitioned states Korea and Vietnam.

The Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949 with the consideration that it was the only legitimate (democratic) representation of the German people. It did not recognize GDR but tried to achieve German unity under a freely elected, democratic government. The Federal Republic did not have diplomatic contacts with GDR or other communist states.

In 1955 the Federal government of Konrad Adenauer visited Moscowmarker and established diplomatic relations because of the special significance of the Soviet Union as a victory state of World War II. Now there came up the need to explain why there were relations with this communist state and not others who recognized GDR, too.

Hallstein Doctrine

The doctrine was named after Walter Hallstein, then "state secretary" (the top civil servant) at the Foreign Office, though largely devised by the head of the political department, Wilhelm Grewe.

The doctrine was understood to be that the Federal government would not establish or maintain diplomatic relations with any state that recognised the German Democratic Republicmarker (GDR) - with the exception of the Soviet Union.

The doctrine was applied twice, to Yugoslaviamarker in 1957, and to Cubamarker in 1963. Both had first recognized the GDR.

In 1958 the newly founded republic of Guineamarker accepted a Federal German ambassador and a GDR trade mission. When the country in 1960 sent an ambassador to GDR, the Federal Republic withdrew its own. Guinea then declared that it had never sent an ambassador to the GDR.

Problems of the doctrine

The doctrine seemed to succeed for a long time in isolating GDR, at least in regard to important Western or Third World states. But it also limited the Federal government's politics, and in the 1960s it became more and more difficult to maintain.

In several cases, the doctrine was in fact not applied. In 1957 GDR opened in Cairo an office for the contacts to the entire Arab world, but the Federal Republic did not withdraw its ambassador from Egypt. When in 1965 the Federal Republic established diplomatic relations with Israelmarker, many Arab states ceased theirs with the Federal Republic but did not recognize GDR. This did happen indeed after 1967, because GDR had supported the Arab states in the Six-Day War. The doctrine was also not applied to Cambodiamarker in 1969, although it had recognize GDR.

The Federal Republic established diplomatic relations with Romaniamarker in 1967 and reestablished those with Yugoslavia in 1968. The government's argument was the communist states had been in fact forced to recognize GDR and should not be punished for that.


In 1969 Willy Brandt became German Chancellor as head of a social democrat / liberal government. The new government maintained the main political goals such as the German reunification in peace and freedom, but it altered the way to achieve these goals. Brandt's new Ostpolitik tried to negotiate with the GDR government in order to improve the situation of Germans in GDR and support visits from one part of Germany to the other. For that, the Federal Republic recognized GDR de facto, emphasizing that both German states can not be "foreign" to each other, that their relationships can be only of a special kind. Hallstein doctrine became obsolete.

Similar situations

Similar exclusive mandate policies (One-China policy) were (and still are) pursued by the People's Republic of Chinamarker and the Republic of Chinamarker, and the situation in Vietnam during the Vietnam War was somewhat similar.

See also


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