The recent celebrations of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall have generated much historical interest—but not always historical accurateness. The release of documents on British policy towards German unification in 1989-90, in particular, has triggered a considerable flurry of “spin” aimed, it seems, at rewriting history itself. From over 500 pages, journalists have zoomed in on one apparent gem: that President Mitterrand and Margaret Thatcher, in early 1990, viewed the impending German unification with a shared angst—panic, even.
To the delight of commentators, a memo written by Charles Powell, Thatcher’s then private secretary, quoted Mitterrand using the H-word in a conversation…
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