Hallstein Doctrine - Content and Rationale

Content and Rationale

The Hallstein Doctrine followed from the Federal Republic's claimed exclusive mandate to represent the whole of Germany (the Alleinvertretungsanspruch). It specified that the Federal German government would regard it as an unfriendly act (acte peu amical) if third countries were to recognize the "German Democratic Republic" (East Germany) or maintain diplomatic relations with it—with the exception of the Soviet Union, as one of the Four Powers responsible for Germany. The response to such an unfriendly act was often understood to mean breaking off diplomatic relations, but this was not stated as an automatic response under the policy, though it remained the ultima ratio.

Which actions short of official recognition and full diplomatic relations would trigger sanctions, and what these sanctions would be, was deliberately kept unclear—at least publicly—in order to prevent foreign governments testing the limits. Grewe warned privately that flexibility was essential and that it was not possible to pretend that the state-like entity of East Germany did not exist and gave the diplomatic service guidance on what sort of activities would be tolerated under the policy.

Neither full diplomatic relations nor consular relations with similar recognition (exequatur) would be tolerated. The same applied to treaties that did not contain special provisos specifying that the treaty did not imply recognition. However, normal commercial activities, including non-state trade representations, etc. would be tolerated. There was also a considerable grey area open to interpretation. While Grewe was somewhat circumspect, the foreign minister, Brentano, made it clear that regardless of the economic consequences the Federal Republic would immediately break off diplomatic relations with any state that recognized the German Democratic Republic de jure or recognized the "reality of two German states".

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