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Europe’s odd couple

The poor state of Anglo-German relations owes something to the legacy of hostility between Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl. Alan Watson has spoken to the senior diplomats on both sides and provides a revealing account of personal and policy differences which resonate to this day

By Alan Watson   July 1996

On 11th December 1898 Prince Bernhard von B?low addressed the Reichstag in Berlin. With uncharacteristic foresight, he warned the chamber that “in the new century Germany must be either the hammer or the anvil.” The caution and calculation of Bismarck had been replaced by the restless ambition of his successors. Germany headed into the 20th century doomed to be both hammer and anvil. Rivalry between imperial Britain and imperial Germany became inevitable.

As we approach the end of our century, it is worth recollecting this unhappy history from the close of the last. Then, as now, assumptions were made about…

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