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La réaction des voisins immédiats de l’Allemagne : France, Autriche, Italie

Italian reactions to German reunification - Prejudice and reciprocal misunderstandings

Federico Trocini
Traduction de Alessandro Michel

Entrées d’index

Aires géographiques :

Italie, Allemagne, Europe

Périodes :

19e-20e siècle
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Texte intégral

  • 1 B. Croce, Teoria e storia della storiografia, Milano, Adelphi 1989, p. 378-380 (Marginalia).

1In one of the annotations accompanying the third edition of Teoria e storia della storiografia (1927), to the question “what is a people’s character?”, Benedetto Croce answers that it consists essentially in its history, in all of its history and in nothing but its history1. There is, as the Italian philosopher explains further, not only a perfect coincidence, but a veritable identity. As regards the temptation of mechanically deducing the peculiar traits of a nation from the analysis of this or that particular historical event, Croce cautions, however, against the twofold risk coinciding, on one hand, with the tendency towards excessive generalizations and, on the other, with that of conceiving the future as the absurd repetition of the past.

2The same could be said if one were to examine the thick web of relations between two countries like Germany and Italy. In this instance too, one would in fact have to take into account both their common history and the conditioning forces exerted – during the different phases of such history – by the two countries’ respective collective memories. In doing so, one should be careful, as suggested by Croce himself, not to give in to the temptation of making superficial generalizations or believing that the totality of the countries’ past relations also unequivocally determines their future ones.

3With reference to what has just been said, the first main aim of the next pages will be to investigate the Italian reactions to the fall of the Berlin Wall and to the subsequent reunification of Germany in a long-term perspective. The second main aim will be to measure the extent to which this event engendered a substantial transformation of the relationship between Italy and Germany compared to the configuration it had acquired in the aftermath of 1945.

4Since taking into account every single viewpoint would be impossible, the Italian reactions to the German reunification will be analyzed with particular reference to those of the Italian politicians of that period and to the observations of the commentators – essayists, journalists and scholars – who showed the greatest sensitivity towards the German questions.

Attraction and repellence

  • 2 See the recent and accurate work by Heitmann K., Das italienische Deutschlandbild in seiner Geschic (...)

5Easily placeable within the wider framework of the relationship between Latin and Germanic worlds, the relation between Italy and Germany boasts an evocative and plurisecular tradition2.

  • 3 C. Dipper, Ferne Nachbarn. Aspekte der Moderne in Deutschland und Italien, in Id. (Hg.), Deutschlan (...)
  • 4 J. Petersen, Deutschland-Italien. Eine fruchtbare und spannungsreiche Nachbarschaft, in Zibaldone. (...)

6However, in the narrower context of the analysis I wish to carry out, it is sufficient to succinctly consider the setting of Italy and Germany themselves, which started around the second half of the nineteenth-century, when the two countries brought the process of construction of their respective nation-states to completion. Since then, regardless of whether one wishes or not to read the history of the two so-called verspätete Nationen in light of a cogent parallelism or in light of a common Sonderweg vis-à-vis supposed western reference models, the relations between the two countries have been extraordinarily intense3. And it is equally true that the sum of their collectively shared experiences is a sediment which deeply influences their reciprocal perception4.

7Obviously, what has just been said does not apply to Italy and Germany exclusively. Is it sufficient to think about the decisive burden of the memory of the eighteenth century Partitions on Poland’s collective conscience and on the configuration of its subsequent relations with Germany and Russia. Or to think about the role played by the recollection of Napoleonic expansionism on one hand, and the “Sedan syndrome” on the other, in cementing, at least until 1945, France and Germany’s perception of each other as radical opponents.

8In relation to the aforementioned examples, however, the relationship between Italy and Germany possesses peculiar features, which make it somewhat unique. Compared to the classic relationship between France and Germany, for a long time the relationship between Italy and Germany has been characterized in terms of pure antagonism but also in terms of an active cooperation. As is known, starting from the second half of the nineteenth century, this complex dialectic translated itself into an intricate web of veritable liaisons dangereuses on the diplomatic, political and military fronts, which was accompanied by an equally intricate network of betrayals, misunderstandings and reciprocal accusations.

  • 5 Bear in mind that in 1915 Italy declared war only against Austria-Hungary, which was considered, af (...)
  • 6 L. Caracciolo, La Germania vista dall’Italia, in M. Korinman (ed. by), La Germania vista dagli altr (...)
  • 7 G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa. Dallo Stato di potenza alla “potenza civile”, Torino, Einaud (...)

9Let us remember, for example, two dates in particular, which are undeniably meaningful in the history of the relationship between Italy and Germany. The first is 1915, a year which, after more than thirty years of intense cooperation within the framework of the Triple Alliance, saw Italy denouncing the pact and entering the war alongside France, Great Britain and Russia5. The second is 1943, which is the year when, after the fall of Mussolini and the liberation of the southern part of Italy by the Anglo-American troops, the new government declared war on Hitler’s Germany, whom it had until recently been tied to within the context of the Steel Pact signed in 19396. According to some authoritative scholars, such dates, with their inevitable trail of arguments, resentment, reciprocal accusations, prejudice and platitudes, left hard-to-heal scars in the collective imagination of Italians and Germans destined, over the course of their subsequent mutual history, to periodically reopen7. It was especially when political tensions reached a climax that, Italians started being repeatedly accused of possessing an innate tendency towards unreliability and Germans of having an equally innate tendency towards bullying.

  • 8 G. E. Rusconi, T. Schlemmer, H. Woller (edited by), Estraniazione strisciante tra Italia e Germania (...)

10One of the instances during which this complex set of stereotypes conspicuously resurfaced coincides with the period inaugurated by the Wiedervereinigung. In fact, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a considerable part of the Italian public opinion cast an apprehensive gaze at Germany and, in turn, and especially immediately after Maastricht, a sizeable part of the German public opinion saw Italy as the same old defaulting and unreliable partner. However, besides causing old fears and prejudices to resurface, the earthquake of 1989-1991, together with the fall of the Wall, also brought about the end of the bipolarism and hence, in the narrower context of the bilateral relations between Italy and Germany, considerable qualitative changes. As a result, some scholars have put forward the hypothesis according to which, from that very moment onwards, Italy and Germany began a process of reciprocal distancing that has been evocatively defined as a “creeping alienation”8.

11Before examining some of the main instances whereby, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Italian public opinion expressed its fears as to the ominous hypothesis of a return of the Macht in der Mitte and attempting to understand what the aforementioned supposed process of «creeping alienation» consisted of and how it began, it is essential to take a step back and highlight the peculiar aspects of the relationship between Italy and Germany from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards.

  • 9 G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa, op.cit., p. XIV-XXII.

12According to the periodization suggested by Gian Enrico Rusconi, it is possible to break down the history of the relationship between Italy and Germany into two great cycles9.

  • 10 M. Stürmer, Das ruhelose Reich. Deutschland 1866-1918, Berlin, Severin & Siedler, 1983.

13The first, covering approximately the period between 1866 and 1945, coincides not only with the period marked by the almost-simultaneous process of construction of the respective nation-states. It also coincides, more generally, with the period deeply characterized by the fierce competition between the European powers to seize continental hegemony. In this context, Piedmont and Prussia first, and Italy and Germany later, followed the same power rationale, but, in a complex and at times controversial succession of rapprochement and distancing dynamics, adopted a different set of strategies. Whereas the international policy of Prussia/Germany – i.e., of the so-called “restless Empire” (das ruhelose Reich) to use Michael Stürmer’s famous expression10 – mainly stood out for its affirmative and aggressive self-promotion, the foreign policy of the Kingdom of Sardinia/Kingdom of Italy singled itself out chiefly for its extremely cautious and hesitant attitude, overly concerned with assessing single circumstances and opportunities. Incidentally, a few decades later, the same combination would also reoccur within the framework of the relationship between Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.

  • 11 Banti A. M., La nazione del Risorgimento. Parentela, santità e onore alle origini dell’Italia unita(...)
  • 12 S. Lanaro, L’Italia nuova. Identità e sviluppo 1861-1988, Torino, Einaudi, 1988, p. 192.

14In this respect, we should point out that, already in the context of the Risorgimento tradition, Italy harboured a marked anti-German sentiment, which, by effectively associating Austria and Germany, would have a heavy and lasting impact on the relationship between the two countries. In what has been defined by Banti as the Risorgimento canon, which was widespread in nineteenth-century Italian culture, the foreign oppressor, or, more precisely, Germany, was in fact identified as barbarous and, as such, considered culturally inferior11. This negative feature, which has its roots in ancient Roman history and in the Renaissance, was destined to resurface powerfully not only in the aftermath of the Italian National Unification, when France’s friendship was placed at the top of the agenda, but over the course of the subsequent bilateral history between Italy and Germany. No matter how predominant, this was not however the one and only negative feature, since, in reality, as early as the mid-1860s, it was accompanied by a second one, which had a completely opposite orientation. Particularly in the eyes of that post-unification ruling class which advocated a greater economic prosperity and military power for Italy, in the wake of Sadowa and Sedan, Germany became a positive model to draw inspiration from12. Rome’s attraction for Berlin reached its apex with the government of Francesco Crispi, a fervent admirer of Bismarck, continuing with the fin de siècle crisis, when many hoped for a swing towards authoritarianism in the Italian political system.

15This controversial web of opposing feelings, where admiration often overlapped with competition, while never becoming a veritable elective affinity, would resurface at regular intervals. On the subject, it has been observed that:

  • 13 C. Visentin, Nel paese delle selve e delle idee. Viaggiatori italiani in Germania 1866-1914, Milano (...)

16Not even in the moments of greater magnificence, has Germany been able to win over the Italian traveller, earning affection, participation, human warmth. Germany is feared and respected, lets itself be admired, imposes itself, subjugates people’s wills and commands respect, but it is unable to awaken in others the spontaneous desire of approaching and sharing13.

  • 14 G. Corni, Il modello tedesco visto dall’Italia, in A. Giovagnoli, G. Del Zanna (ed. by), Il mondo v (...)

17It duly resurfaced, for instance, even in the 1930s, when, with the signing of the alliance with Nazi Germany, the Fascist propagandistic machine repeatedly mobilized itself to highlight the parallelism between, and, at the same time, the autonomy of each of the two regimes and even Fascism’s supremacy over Nazism14. One must understand in the light of this context also the world-famous 6th September 1934 speech in which Mussolini declared:

  • 15 The passage is quoted in R. De Felice, Mussolini il duce. Gli anni del consenso 1929-1936, Torino, (...)

Thirty centuries of history allow us to look down with sovereign pity on certain doctrines coming from beyond the Alps, upheld by the progeny of people who ignored writing, wherewith the documents of one’s own life are handed on, at a time when Rome had Caesar, Virgil and Augustus15.

  • 16 On the parallelism between Italy and Germnay in the aftermath of 1945, cf. R. Cristin (edited by), (...)

18The second great cycle, covering approximately the years from 1949 to 1989, coincides instead with the post-war reconstruction and European integration process years, wherein Italy and West Germany abandoned the traditional power logics of the nation-state which had been decisive in the previous phase, to undertake, in a framework influenced by the bipolar opposition between United States and Soviet Union, convergent commitments on the Euro-Atlantic policy plane. Hence, for approximately forty years, owing to a singularly parallel international status – both countries had been defeated in the Second World War and, as such, had been subjected to a regime of limited sovereignty; had similar territorial extension and population; had no atomic weapons of their own but were required to house allied and hence strategically essential nuclear weapons – and to a similarly analogous internal situation both on the political and on the economic plane – both were attempting to overcome their Nazi-Fascist past, to rebuild the democratic institutions from scratch and, as of the early 1960s, experiencing an extraordinary process of industrial growth – Italy and Germany found themselves, to their chagrin, allied once again16.

  • 17 P. Guillen, L’Italie et le problème allemand 1945-1955, in Relations internationales, vol. 51, autu (...)

19We should, however, point out that the two countries had different underlying reasons for their Euro-Atlantic cooperation. Nevertheless, their convergence of interests was functional, from the perspective of concrete political praxis, with the aim of reaching the ultimate goal of European construction, which both Adenauer in Germany and De Gasperi in Italy had striven towards from the outset17. For De Gasperi, the combination of Occidentalism, Atlanticism and Europeanism was in fact the preferred route not only to encourage Italy’s re-entry within the international community, but also to obtain the economic and political support required in order to rein in the internal social conflicts and to combat the strong communist opposition. For Adenauer, Germany’s joining of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the proposed European Defence Community (EDC) constituted, in turn, the sole viable route to reconquer, in perspective, sizeable margins of national sovereignty and of international legitimacy. Under the cloak of Atlanticism and Europeanism, the marriage of interest between Italy and the Federal Republic, i.e., between two middle powers searching for a new identity and, as such, forced to rely on their mutual collaboration, allowed the development of warm relations, which would continue also throughout the subsequent decades. Such a state of affairs was favoured not only by politically related needs, but also by the fact that, in the same years, on the economic front, Germany became Italy’s main business partner. Simultaneously, on the social front, the net of relations between Italians and Germans intensified following the massive immigration of Italians to Germany and the equally massive tourist influx (more than 40% of the total) of Germans to Italy. However, during this phase too, an undercurrent of diffidence and suspicion seeped through a sizeable portion of the Italian public opinion. It had the overtones of an almost racist anti-Germanism, fuelled, as had already been the case in the past, by a sort of inferiority complex only occasionally overcome, as exemplified by the historic victory at the 1970 football World Cup in Mexico.

  • 18 G. E. Rusconi, La crisi di Weimar. Crisi di sistema e sconfitta operaia, Torino, Einaudi, 1977 and (...)

20More generally, on the political and cultural fronts, Italian interest towards Germany intensified around the mid-1970s, when, with the emergence of terrorist violence and growing fears about the solidity of the democratic-parliamentarian institutions, a wide debate was launched on the experience of the Weimar Republic on one hand and on the risks of a drift towards authoritarianism in the Federal Republic on the other hand18.

  • 19 F. Focardi, “Bravo italiano” e “cattivo tedesco”: riflessioni sulla genesi di due immagini incrocia (...)

21Less than a decade later, within a political context which heralded the German ruling class’s desire to close the gap between economic giant and political dwarf – a peculiar trait of western Germany in the aftermath of 1945 – the Historikerstreit exploded. In Italy, this debate attracted intense media attention, inevitably resulting in the triggering of a whole new series of consolidated clichés. The paradigmatic example was provided as recently as 1991 by left-wing filmmaker Gabriele Salvatores who, in his internationally successful film Mediterraneo, showcased an updated version of the traditional dichotomy between the good Italian and the bad German: the vicissitudes of the handful of Italian soldiers who stumbled almost by chance upon a small island of the Aegean had the effect of reconfirming every possible cliché of the Italian as kind-hearted latin lover, while completely ignoring the fact that the Italian occupation of Greece was a much more dramatic event. In actual fact, it was Italy itself – and not Germany – who had been the first to attack the Hellenic Republic, aspiring to break its back19.

  • 20 L. Caracciolo, La Germania vista dall’Italia, op.cit., p. 55.

22However, the sensation caused by the Historikerstreit was soon widely surpassed by the one provoked by the events that, around the end of the 1980s, unfolded in most of Central and Eastern Europe and which caught completely unawares not only the ruling class, but also the vast majority of the Italian public opinion, which had until then placidly accepted the de facto existence of two Germanies. It is precisely that – the division of Germany – that allows us to glimpse, beneath the Euro-Atlantic cooperation of the years following the end of the Second World War, a fundamental strategic discrepancy between Italy and Germany20, which, in subsequent years would profoundly affect their bilateral relations.

23On the eve of 1989, the Italian political class was firmly convinced that it had nothing to gain from a possible as much as unlikely shift in the continental status quo. Since it lacked a veritable autonomous international policy strategy, it preferred to remain beneath the cloak of the EC and NATO, delegating the most important decisions to the larger allies, and carving out a modest niche for its more or less fleeting interests, mostly related to the economy. On the contrary, the federal Republic of Germany, having never declared its own national question as definitively solved, never ceased to aspire, albeit tacitly, to a reassessment of the international status quo.

  • 21 The episode is recalled in G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa, op.cit., p. 268-269. More in gene (...)

24With the above in mind, one can easily understand the Kohl-Genscher government’s irritation when, on 13 September 1984, Giulio Andreotti – Italy’s Foreign Minister at the time – declared that pangermanism needed to be overcome once and for all and that the state of affairs of the two German States had to remain unchanged even in the years to come. Subsequently, following the violent reaction from Bonn, Andreotti naïvely pretended not to understand its reasons, stressing that he had simply voiced opinions that were widely shared by each of the other main European chancelleries21. This minor incident was merely an episode, whose only consequence was to cool Italo-German relations for a few months without significant repercussions on their essence. It reveals Italian disorientation in the autumn-winter of a few years later, when the international bipolarism that had sustained worldwide and European equilibria for almost half a century shattered and repositioned the German question aggressively to the fore.

Strategic discrepancy?

25The fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent reunification of Germany, which followed by a mere two years the coming into force of the Single European Act (July 1987), deeply upset the European equilibriums and were a cause of concern to the Italian public opinion for a complex set of underlying reasons.

  • 22 La Stampa, 18 February 1990.

26Firstly, the earthquake of 1989-1990 occurred extremely quickly and according to modalities which would have been impossible to predict in advance. Said event caught the ruling class and the Italian public opinion completely off-guard. As Andreotti himself admitted in February 1990, “we expected the conditions for reunification would be ripe only in the third millennium”22.

27Secondly, because those two main events were not triggered exclusively by what occurred within the former DDR, but also by a powerful – nationally-oriented – popular movement. Closely related to what would occur shortly after in former Yugoslavia, this phenomenon inevitably brought to the fore the highly troublesome question of the re-emergence of potentially aggressive nationalisms. It is hence perfectly natural that, faced with such threat – which in the specific case of Germany could not but reignite a whole set of painful memories – Italy also witnessed the reigniting of the anthropological-cultural stereotypes of the bad German based on the ever-latent anti-German feeling.

28Thirdly, because the two events, by altering the international status quo, ended up inexorably compromising also the privileged position that Italy had enjoyed up to that moment as middle power placed under the Atlantic cloak. And this, from the point of view of the Italian ruling class, posed two pressing needs: the normalization of German power and the simultaneous redefinition of the Italian geo-strategic interests.

29Fourthly, because the events, by restoring Germany to its role of world political – and no longer just economic – power implicitly determined a structural transformation of the relationship between the two countries which had until then been equal. As the diplomatic dynamism shown by Germany during the crisis of former Yugoslavia proved, with the unilateral recognition of independence to Slovenia and Croatia, from that moment onwards Berlin’s international projections would no longer necessarily coincide with Italian willingness to safeguard the status quo ante.

30Lastly, the fall of the Soviet bloc had considerable repercussions on the Italian political system’s internal equilibriums, repercussions which translated themselves into: the outbreak of Tangentopoli; the electoral success of the secessionist party Lega Nord (Northern League); the implosion of the political system which had until then founded itself on the dominance of the Christian Democracy Party (DC). In this sense, the controversial transition to the so-called second Republic forced Italian commentators to combine the analysis of the elements of strength of the new Germany with the analysis of the elements of structural weakness of its own country.

  • 23 M. Korinman (ed. by), La Germania vista dagli altri, op.cit., p. 14.

31Even from the brief presentation of these underlying reasons, the opinion already expressed by Michel Korinman seems fully shareable. According to him, the reunification of Germany decreed not only the end of a certain idea of Germany, but also the end of a certain idea of Europe and, consequently, of Italy itself23.

32Faced with the genuine feeling of horror vacui triggered by this complex set of transformations underway both on the international and the national level, the Italian ruling class, paying the price of long decades of political inertia, initially entrenched itself in defensive positions. Only at a later stage did it attempt the formulation of a coherent diplomatic strategy. A strategy which, however, both owing to the delay with which it was conceived, and because of Italy’s objectively scant international weight, was basically a failure. And, once it had acknowledged its own isolation, the Italian ruling class could only put on a brave face and accept the solution of the German question within the terms set by the main actors of international politics. And, above all, it could only acknowledge the fact that, following the disappearance of a corresponding middle power as the German Federal Republic had been until then, Italy would face a process of progressive international marginalization.

33With reference to Gian Enrico Rusconi’s rereading of the events in Germania Italia Europa (2003), I shall attempt to reconstruct some of the ways in which the Italian reaction to the reunification of Germany took shape. Initially, I shall focus on the reactions of the political class and, at a later stage, on those of the public opinion in the wider sense.

  • 24 Corriere della Sera, 26 November 1989 and La Stampa, 6 December 1989.
  • 25 La Repubblica, 15 December 1989.

34On the political level, the initial reaction to the news coming from Berlin was almost a kind of Pavlovian reflex. With the full support of the main parties, including the Communist, Andreotti denied that the German question had been reopened and strove in the first place to maintain good relationships with the Soviet Union, which – so it was believed at the time – would have never allowed itself to lose control over one of its main satellites in East Central Europe. And thus, in mid-November, the premier ensured that the existence of the two German States was not under discussion at all and, shortly afterwards, stressed the need to prevent the “question of the borders” from “suddenly reappearing” in Europe24. Andreotti’s stance provoked a new telling-off by the Bonn government, which, bearing the blunder of five years before still fresh in mind, replied, through Eduard Litner, the foreign policy spokesman for the CDU-CSU parliamentary group, that Andreotti had once again given “free rein to his aversion to the self-determination of the German people”25.

35In spite of the polemical reaction from Bonn, Andreotti’s cautious attitude towards any dangerous acceleration was not tied to a prejudicial opposition to the hypothesis of German reunification, but, on the contrary, to the awareness of its international significance and of its possible repercussions on Europe. In other words, Andreotti immediately realized that the reunification of Germany, reintroducing to some extent the same problems that had characterized the early 1950s, would refuel on the one hand the questions of German sovereignty and, on the other, the position of the new Germany both within the European Community structure and within NATO. The widespread concern, voiced by him, was hence to avoid drastically upsetting the European equilibrium. For Andreotti it was essential to understand, before being all too easily carried away, what the Soviet Union’s reactions would be and consequently, acting in tandem with France, to tie Germany to Europe by defining a veritable exchange: reunification in exchange for relinquishing the mark and the economic integration of Europe. In hindsight, Andreotti’s stance might seem an excessively cautious one, but, actually, if one endeavours to take into account the many uncertainties of the time and the radically new nature of the processes underway, it appears dictated by a generic common sense, based on the need of avoiding a double risk: on the one hand, the risk of Germany becoming powerful to the point of altering European equilibria and, on the other, the risk of Germany loosening its ties with its European partners to search for its own Sonderweg. However, Andreotti also harboured another concern in addition to the ones just mentioned. It emerged clearly from the words with which, in December 1989, he admonished the twelve European heads of government assembled in Strasburg:

  • 26 G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa, op.cit., p. 282.

It would be wrong if, to hastily solve the German problem, we were to jeopardize the whole of Europe. We cannot run the risk that a political and diplomatic line of reasoning be overshadowed by emotional urges26.

  • 27 Ibid., p. 282-283.

36Andreotti’s intention was to warn against the risks involved in an indiscriminate application of the principle of self-determination. In his opinion, in fact, the true cause for concern was not German reunification, which would have occurred under the supervision of a tight network of international inspections, but the imitative processes it might engender. These processes, by triggering hard-to-control disruptive phenomena, would have entailed a serious risk of new conflicts at the heart of Europe27. It was, in short, undoubtedly a rearguard position, careful to avoid the changes underway provoking unmanageable disruptions but one which was not dictated by a mere anti-German bias. And if one considers what was to happen shortly afterwards in Yugoslavia, it does not seem wholly unjustified.

37Andreotti’s stance, however, heavily influenced the Italian strategy, which responded to the rapid escalation of the events ill-equipped and far too late, content with passively witnessing the changes underway. With the passing of weeks, Italian diplomats started exhibiting a growing unease at the highly plausible scenario that Italy, incapable of playing any specific role, would remain completely isolated on the international level. The perplexity grew further still between December and February 1990, when it became clear that Bonn wanted to set the timeframes and modalities of the reunification as autonomously as it possibly could and hence, despite the rhetoric of a common European house, cut the European partners out of the so-called Two Plus Four Agreement the diplomatic body set up ad hoc by the two German States and the four powers who had won the Second World War to solve the German question.

  • 28 This proposal gave birth to the quadrangular initiative, which included Italy, Austria, Hungary, Yu (...)

38In the face of the substantial success with which Bonn’s diplomacy managed to avoid more complex compromissory formulas, the Italian reaction was, once again, one of manifest intolerance. In the attempt, much overdue, to define an autonomous diplomatic strategy and to escape the sense of powerlessness of the first weeks following the fall of the Wall, the Italian government did not content itself with requesting a greater involvement of its Euro-Atlantic partners in the German reunification talks. In the attempt to impose an external bond on united Germany, Foreign Minister Gianni De Michelis became the advocate of a new and original proposal for European integration. It was the “theory of concentric circles”, according to which the first circle was represented by the Twelve, the second by the countries of the EFTA and the third by the former satellites of Moscow, in decreasing order of political, economic and military integration28.

  • 29 H.-D. Genscher, Erinnerungen, Berlin Siedler, 1995, p. 729. With relation to this episode, cf. also (...)

39The Italian arguments were very serious, but they were not taken into consideration and in February 1990, during the debates which would lead to the signing of the Two Plus Four Agreement, in reply to De Michelis’s objections, the head of German diplomacy, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, did not hesitate to clarify the situation with the brutally frank words: “you are not part of the game”29.

  • 30 L. Caracciolo, La Germania vista dall’Italia, op.cit., p. 57.

40That was the first great instance of embarrassment between Italy and Germany. On that specific occasion, in fact, the government of Rome definitely acknowledged the fact that the birth of the new Germany would have reduced Italy’s international weight30. Italy and its representatives hence had no option but to passively accept the mechanism of the Two Plus Four Agreement and the accelerated rhythm of reunification imposed by the Germans themselves. To the extent that on 21 February, during another meeting with Genscher, and flaunting a certain degree of self-confidence, De Michelis ended up declaring his approval of the unification:

  • 31 La Stampa, 22 February 1990.

But also of it occurring within the timeframes that the two German states will decide upon, because a protraction of the timeframes for unification due to external causes could provoke instability31.

41It was only the Italian Communist Party that remained in favour of a slower unification process and of the simultaneous forsaking both of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. However, in the debate that took place on 20-21st March 1990 within the Italian Parliament, this stance was defeated by the government majority, which was by now in favour of the integration of reunified Germany into NATO. At any rate, the PCI’s diffidence would not cease to accompany the whole reunification process, stressing in particular the seriousness of the strengthening of xenophobe extreme right and the anti-European tendencies within some of the main German parties.

42But that first great instance of embarrassment between Italy and Germany was not an isolated incident: many others were to follow in subsequent years. The second such episode, would take place shortly after, in the context of the unsuccessful European handling of the first phase of the Yugoslav crisis, when, once again, in the face of the unilateral initiative of Germany, unintentionally responsible for a disastrous acceleration of the crisis, the Italian government did not quite know what to do.

43Germany’s decision to support Slovenia and Croatia against the Yugoslav Federation – reluctantly accepted by the other European partners – had unexpected and negative consequences, because the short-sighted recognition of the autonomy of the two countries triggered a dissolution process which ended up investing also Bosnia-Herzegovina, soon degenerating into civil war. Despite not having been motivated by hegemonic reasons, the idea upheld by German diplomacy on that precise occasion – an idea according to which the criteria of self-determination and democratization that had worked for German reunification could also be applied elsewhere – turned out to be an illusion destined to translate itself into a tragic scenario of ethnic violence. In this case too, Italian diplomacy followed a different strategy from the German one, appearing in general more cautious and prudent. And it was only at a later stage that it was forced, like the other Euro-Atlantic partners, to align itself with the German stance. In this precise circumstance, in addition to the further cooling of the bilateral relationships, Italian diplomats noticed that Germany, increasingly more self-confident and assertive in the new European geopolitical scenario, showed consideration exclusively for its two largest partners in the West. It was a bitter realization for most of the Italian public opinion, which, at least until the mid-1990s, would have continued to associate the reunification with the fear of a revival of a more or less aggressive German nationalism.

44From that moment onwards, the political tensions between Italy and Germany ensued one after the other: from the dispute concerning Italian entry into the euro zone right up to the different stances taken during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Popular representations of German reunification

  • 32 M. Nava, Germania, Germania. Dalla notte del Muro alla riunificazione, Milano, Mondadori, 1990 and (...)
  • 33 J. Petersen, Die Einigung Deutschlands 1989/90 aus der Sicht Italiens, in J. Becker (Hg.), Wiederve (...)
  • 34 H. M. Enzensberger, La grande migrazione, It. trans. by P. Sorge, Torino, Einaudi, 1993 [orig. ed.: (...)
  • 35 W. Lepenies, Conseguenze di un evento inaudito: i Tedeschi dopo l’unificazione, It. trans. by S. Ko (...)
  • 36 H. Schmidt, M. Dönhoff, M. Miegel, W. Nölling, E. Reuter, R. Schröder, W. Thierse, Perché la German (...)

45The theme of German reunification aroused, right from the start, an extraordinary interest also among Italian public opinion at large. In the early 1990s, the number of works devoted to the more or less recent history of Germany soared impressively. In particular, it was the reconstruction of the events between summer 1989 and autumn 1990 which received extensive focus, as testified by the rapid succession of well-documented journalistic accounts32. If the daily press followed the evolution of the events day by day occasionally accommodating the commentaries of scholars33, periodicals and cultural publications focussed on the analysis of more specific themes, giving wide space to leading German intellectuals such as Jürgen Habermas, Günter Grass and Michael Stürmer, and to authoritative Italian analysts, like Romano Prodi. A few German pamphlets were also translated: they included those by intellectuals such as Hans Magnus Enzensberger34 and Wolf Lepenies35 and those by political commentators such as former chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Wolfgang Thierse36. All in all, the Italian reactions to German reunification were not characterised by unilateral stances or by prejudicially polemical overtones, even if a fundamental scepticism did prevail. Despite the sense of relief with which the end of the Cold War was greeted, for Caracciolo a certain degree of prudence was still required:

  • 37 L. Gruber, P. Borella, Quei giorni a Berlino, op.cit., p. 9.

Nobody knows what the Germany of 2000 will look like: once the revolution has occurred and the party is over, a healthy and vigilant scepticism will be mandatory37.

  • 38 F. Fracassi, Il Quarto Reich, Organizzazioni, uomini e programmi dell’internazionale nazista, Roma, (...)
  • 39 F. Rampini, Germanizzazione. Come cambierà l’Italia, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1996.
  • 40 R. Mainardi, L’Europa germanica. Una prospettiva geopolitica, Roma, NIS, 1992 and also C. Bastasin, (...)
  • 41 J. Petersen, Italianizzazione della Germania? Germanizzazione dell’Italia? L’immagine dell’altro ne (...)

46A scepticism which confirms the persistence of some rooted prejudices, not only among the common people, but even among intellectuals themselves. Highly evocative expressions such as “fourth Reich38, “Germanization”39 or “Germanic Europe”40 reflect the predominant sensibility at the time. But the casual use of these formulas by the mass media ended up reinforcing rooted prejudices and fuelling old and new fears. From this perspective, the feeling that Germany remained in the grip of a sort of obscure illness underpinned the doubts about the Germans’ possibility of being completely “normal”41. Doubts that have been summed up as follows:

  • 42 M. Nava, Germania, Germania, op.cit., p. 170-172.

The average German […] always carries with him – at least to our Latin eyes – something irritating, suspicious, uneasy and, in the best of cases, enigmatic. […]. Thus, with his past and with the image that, throughout History, he has carved for himself, the German seems to us slightly more violent, slightly more warrior-like, slightly more blinkered than the rest. […]. We are not afraid of the chauvinism of the French, the coldness of the Swedes, the imperial nostalgias of the English, the massification of the Americans. […].We are no longer afraid – after Gorbatchev – of the ghosts of Stalinism and the prospect of being invaded by the Communist Devil. But the German … well, the German still leaves us with a few doubts about his normality42.

  • 43 L. Caracciolo, Gli usi geopolitici della germanofobia: fra Europa ed euro, in G. E. Rusconi, H. Wol (...)
  • 44 P. Ottone, Saremo colonia? O forse lo siamo già, Milano, Longanesi 1997.

47The doubt about the Germans’ normality is the starting point to understand, within the framework of what has been defined quite aptly a «geopolitical use» of germanophobia43, the extended prominence given by the mass media to the re-emergence of xenophobia and to the electoral successes of the extreme right parties and also to understand that peculiar feeling of Schadenfreude which seemed to emerge intermittently in many comments on the economic difficulties of Germany. The same difficult economic and psychological conditions of eastern Germans were repeatedly highlighted with the aim of stressing the troubles caused by the reunification. Likewise, also the choice of reinstating Berlin as the capital was viewed with suspicion, as if such gesture were tantamount, on a symbolic level, to reinstating the old Germany. Hence, it was not a coincidence that in Italy a large airing was given to German intellectuals who were critical vis-à-vis the future prospects of reunification, such as Günter Grass and Jürgen Habermas among the West Germans and Heiner Müller and Stefan Heym among the East Germans. And when the ghost of political pan-Germanism was not a cause for concern, it was replaced by the economic situation. Despite the initial difficulties, the vast majority of the analysts declared themselves confident of the fact that the German economy would be able to get back on its feet relatively quickly, relaunching its hegemonic plans on an even greater scale. From many quarters, a scenario of progressive “Germanization” hence began to take shape; first and foremost of the countries which once belonged to the Communist bloc and then, in a wider context, of the whole continent44. Thus, for example, Saverio Vertone was able to state:

  • 45 S. Vertone, Il ritorno della Germania. Dove va la nuova superpotenza europea, Milano, Rizzoli, 1992 (...)

The signs of hegemony have reappeared amid universal silence. They prove that, in all likelihood, we shan’t have a European Germany but a German Europe. The panzer, this time, don’t come into the equation. It is all to do with the mark and the banks. It may be a polite, discreet, domination but a domination nevertheless45.

And in 1996 Federico Rampini stressed:

  • 46 F. Rampini, Germanizzazione, op.cit., p. 2.

Now, for the first time in its history, Germany is dominating Europe in a pacific way. It is doing so using the weapons of industry, commerce, finance and politics. And the consent of the conquered countries46.

  • 47 A. Bolaffi, Il sogno tedesco. La nuova Germania e la coscienza tedesca, Roma, Donzelli, 1993.

48If what has been related up to now reflects the majority of the stances and the inclinations, it is also true that, especially in the context of scientific essay-writing, it was possible to distinguish non-isolated examples of accurate interpretations of a considerably different character. This is the case, for example, of a well-known Germanist such as Angelo Bolaffi, who, as early as 1993, overturned the predominant sense of diffidence and therefore rejected the preconceived thesis according to which Germany’s past would continue to weigh also on its future. According to his rereading of the most recent German history, over four decades of parliamentarianism played a decisive function in favouring the normalization of the German spirit and hence in shaping “another Germany”. In this sense, 1989-1990 would be none other than the definitive crowning of this process47. But it is also the case of another authoritative Germanist, Gian Enrico Rusconi, who, as early as 1990 and hence ahead of Bolaffi, did not hesitate to state that, by virtue of its process of political and cultural westernization, Germany now occupied a legitimate place among the most solid democracies of the continent. He was hence of the opinion that the time had come to overcome every remaining diffidence:

  • 48 G. E. Rusconi, Capire la Germania. Un diario ragionato sulla questione tedesca, Bologna, il Mulino, (...)

The discontinuities and the breaks with the previous periods are infinitely more significant and incisive than the elements of continuity. […]. Germany has become an adult democracy like the others, exposed to all the troubles and dangers that this entails – with the exclusion of a relapse in its past. At any rate, the division of the nation has never been a guarantee against such hypothetical relapse48.

  • 49 G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa, op.cit., pp. 335-336 and subsequent.

49And, as a proof of the twofold process of “westernization” and “normalization” by then successfully completed by Germany, many years later, Rusconi ascribed the category of “civil power” to the new Berliner Republik in order to indicate – in ideal contrast both with the classic power State, and with the model of hyper-power State epitomized by George W. Bush Jr.’s United States – a State systematically engaged in a policy of multilateral cooperation, that is, a State which, when conflicts arise, relies unhesitatingly on international organizations to shape politics; resorts to the use of violence only when it is authorized to do so by international organizations; and, lastly, promotes tools for international justice49.

  • 50 J. Petersen, Die Einigung Deutschlands 1989/90 aus der Sicht Italiens, op.cit., pp. 56-60.

50On the other hand, it is also true that if level-headed scholars felt the need to reassure the public opinion about the “normalization” of Germany, this was chiefly due to the fact that they themselves were well aware of the rootedness of the anti-German prejudice. Prejudices, feelings, anxieties and fears mostly fuelled by the memory of Nazism – especially by the Nazi occupation of Italy in the 1943-45 period50 – and, more generally, by at times caricatural historical-anthropological representations which, however, despite their pre-political and pre-rational nature, exercised considerable weight at least until the end of the 1990s. In relation to this matter, Vittorio Ferraris, the former Italian ambassador in Bonn, rightly observed:

  • 51 L. V. Ferraris, Wenig Angst und vorsichtige Sympathien-Italien, in G. Trautman (Hg.), Die hässliche (...)

51Granted, these feelings lack foundation, but it would anyway be a mistake to dismiss them as irrational. In a world based on communication, peoples’ feelings are almost more important that politicians’ statements, which are always invalidated by a veil of hypocrisy51.

52Part of the blame for the persistence of these feelings rests with intellectuals themselves and especially mass media, which, except in rare cases, not only failed to neutralize them effectively, but sometimes even contributed to strengthen and to use them in an unashamedly political way. The few intellectuals that had made the effort of reading the German events in an autonomous rather than prejudicial way were the same who subsequently denounced the limits of the Italian perception of the events of 1989-90. In 1993, Bolaffi, with reference to the Italian press coverage of the events, denounced the limits of a provocative misinformation and of a preconceived hostility. A denunciation followed one year later by that of Roberto Giardina, news correspondent from Germany for the daily newspapers La Nazione and Il Resto del Carlino, who stressed:

  • 52 R. Giardina, Guida per amare i Tedeschi. Come abbattere il muro di pregiudizi e scoprire la verità (...)

The news items published in Italy are true, however, they are chosen with deliberate doggedness to depict a Germany tempted by the past and hence end up giving a totally distorted image of the Federal Republic52.

53This essay sought to re-examine how the Italian public opinion reacted to the reunification of Germany. It therefore focused on the burden of history, that is to say, on the secular genesis of that intricate set of prejudices, fears and anxieties which resurfaced vis-à-vis Germany in the wake of 1989. At the same time, it also examined the sometimes exploitative use of such feelings by the mass media. However, all of this does not explain the reasons of the fundamental transformation of the relationship between Italy and Germany that occurred in the aftermath of reunification. That is to say that the controversial reiteration of old stereotypes and fears has not been sufficient to qualitatively transform the substance of the bilateral relationship between Italy and Germany. Their progressive “creeping alienation” was made possible by other factors. These will be summed up in the remaining concluding remarks.

54As has already been recalled, the intricate web of liaisons dangereuses which tied Italy to Germany from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards was not entirely interrupted by the trauma of the Second World War. On the contrary, the relations between the two countries resumed already from the early 1950s, during one of the happiest phases of their political cooperation, which was marked by post-war reconstruction, by the creation of NATO and the European Coal and Steel Community – the first kernel of the future European Community – and finally by the resolute western choice taken respectively by Adenauer and De Gasperi.

55In the turning point of the early 1990s, marked by German reunification, by the end of the Cold War and by the swift rearrangement of the international equilibrium, the most intense phase of the collaboration between the two Countries came to a conclusion and, in the face of one’s newfound assertiveness and the other’s crisis, a reciprocal alienation started taking shape.

56Whereas in the early 1950s, by means of an intense direct cooperation with Bonn, the role played by the government of Rome had exercised considerable importance on the European level, starting from the 1990s it unexpectedly found itself occupying a completely marginal position. This was essentially due to Germany’s gradual but substantial lack of interest towards its old partner. And this phenomenon was determined by the very sequence of the events. The irreversible crisis of the Soviet system, the end of the Cold War and the resolution of the German question meant that the reasons underpinning the interest shown towards Italy, which had inspired the German ruling class for decades, changed profoundly.

57In other words, by signalling the decline of the political-diplomatic equilibriums of the years after the Second World War, the 1989-90 period also decreed the end of the equilibrium that Italian-German relations had until then built themselves upon.

58In the shadow of the Cold War, a veritable friendly agreement had developed between Italy and Germany, an entente which, if not based on a total convergence of views in relation to the final political objectives, implied at any rate a well-established commonality of interests in the short and long term. In this sense, if the relationship between Italy and Germany in the wake of 1945 was not exactly a marriage of love it was still a solid marriage of convenience, based on a few basic axioms. These included: 1) the coincidence between national interests and collective European interests; 2) the compatibility between Europeanism and Atlanticism; 3) the creation of a federal structure as the final objective of the European integration process; 4) their complete convergence of views on the level of international strategic choices.

59In the wake of the German reunification, these fundamental axioms have become mere fictions. Firstly, neither of the two democracies no longer needs to draw its legitimacy from the equation between national interest and European interest. On the contrary, regardless of any principled declarations, duly belied by the concrete political praxis, the latter is deeply conditioned by criteria of opportunism and, in effect, pursued only when it does not interfere with the national one. Secondly, the compatibility between Europeanism and Atlanticism is more and more frequently put into question by the growing criticism towards American unilateralism – viz. the mass protests following 2003 – and by the anti-American feelings of wide sectors of Italian and German public opinion. Thirdly, the project of a political integration of Europe is thwarted by the actual progress of the institutional construction of the European Union, as testified by the troubled matter of the European Constitution and by the financial crisis that has recently erupted. The assumption of the substantial parity between the two Countries appears finally belied by the periodical exclusion of Italy – caused in part by the poor reputation held on the international plane by the Berlusconi-led governments that have followed one another from the early 1990s onwards – from many of the main high-level political discussions.

60To conclude, it is hence possible to argue that the “creeping alienation” that took place between Italy and Germany in the wake of 1989 is simply another facet of the transformation of the international geo-political equilibriums and of the “normalization” of their respective bilateral relations. Now, the times of the great conflicts, like those of the great fears, belong to the past. From the end of the 1990s onwards, Germany has ceased to represent a threat and to provoke dreads, at least among the younger generations. For the latter, on the contrary, it has gone back to being a much sought-after professional, academic, scientific or tourist destination.

  • 53 I am borrowing the metaphor used by S. Ulrich, Idee simili, pochi problemi e nessun progetto comune (...)

61Going back to the metaphor of the wedding of convenience, the current relationship between Italy and Germany resembles more than anything the typical relationship of an old married couple53. They continue to live next to one another, within the framework of a friendly relationship of good neighbourliness; neither more nor less

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Notes

1 B. Croce, Teoria e storia della storiografia, Milano, Adelphi 1989, p. 378-380 (Marginalia).

2 See the recent and accurate work by Heitmann K., Das italienische Deutschlandbild in seiner Geschichte, 2 Bde., Heidelberg, Winter, 2008 and, especially as far as the period between 1789 and 1871 is concerned, D. Stübler (Hg.), Deutschland-Italien 1789-1871. Zeitgenössische Texte, 2 Bde., Leipzig, Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2002-2007.

3 C. Dipper, Ferne Nachbarn. Aspekte der Moderne in Deutschland und Italien, in Id. (Hg.), Deutschland und Italien 1860-1960. Politische und kulturelle Aspekte im Vergleich, Munich, Oldenbourg, 2005, p. 1-28.

4 J. Petersen, Deutschland-Italien. Eine fruchtbare und spannungsreiche Nachbarschaft, in Zibaldone. Zeitschrift für italienische Kultur der Gegenwart, vol. 16, 1993, p. 5-16. See also the parallel analysis of the national psychologies of France, Germany and Italy by I. Bibó, Isteria tedesca, paura francese e insicurezza italiana. Psicologia di tre nazioni da Napoleone a Hitler, It. transl. by M. Mihályi, Bologna, il Mulino, 1997 [orig. ed.: A német politikai hisztéria okai és története, Franciaország félelme és az olasz önbizalom betegsége, in Válogatott Tanulmányok (1942-44), Budapest, Magvető Könyvkiadó, 1986].

5 Bear in mind that in 1915 Italy declared war only against Austria-Hungary, which was considered, after having denied the right to national self-determination to the Italian minority present on its soil, its veritable historical enemy. It was only in 1916, in the framework of total war logics, that the declaration was extended to Germany.

6 L. Caracciolo, La Germania vista dall’Italia, in M. Korinman (ed. by), La Germania vista dagli altri (1992), transl. by L. Berti, A. Carpi, A. Crespi, V. Guidi, G. Lagomarsino and A. Poggi, Milano, Guerini & Associati, 1993 [orig. ed.: L’Allemagne vue d’ailleurs, Paris, Balland, 1992], p. 52-53. As has been clearly highlighted by Carlo Maria Santoro, the two Italian betrayals in fact epitomize a constant in Italian foreign policy, whose orientation, owing to its structural weakness, has chiefly been decided with relation to the greater ally rather than to the enemy, with a subsequent tendency to mediation as a goal in itself rather than the conception of autonomous strategies. In this respect, according to the logic of power, the stabs in the back inflicted on Germany were not true betrayals but rather attempts to abandon a strategy justified by the fear of remaining trapped in the strategy of the greater ally, at odds with the pursuit of national interests; C. M. Santoro, La politica estera di una media potenza, Bologna, il Mulino, 1991, p. 77-79.

7 G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa. Dallo Stato di potenza alla “potenza civile”, Torino, Einaudi, 2003, p. IX-XI.

8 G. E. Rusconi, T. Schlemmer, H. Woller (edited by), Estraniazione strisciante tra Italia e Germania?, Bologna, il Mulino, 2008.

9 G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa, op.cit., p. XIV-XXII.

10 M. Stürmer, Das ruhelose Reich. Deutschland 1866-1918, Berlin, Severin & Siedler, 1983.

11 Banti A. M., La nazione del Risorgimento. Parentela, santità e onore alle origini dell’Italia unita, Torino, Einaudi, 2000 and P. Villari, L’Italia, la civiltà latina e la civiltà germanica. Osservazioni storiche, Firenze, Le Monnier, 1861.

12 S. Lanaro, L’Italia nuova. Identità e sviluppo 1861-1988, Torino, Einaudi, 1988, p. 192.

13 C. Visentin, Nel paese delle selve e delle idee. Viaggiatori italiani in Germania 1866-1914, Milano, Jaca Book, 1994, p. 459.

14 G. Corni, Il modello tedesco visto dall’Italia, in A. Giovagnoli, G. Del Zanna (ed. by), Il mondo visto dall’Italia, Milano, Guerini & Ass., 2004, p. 43.

15 The passage is quoted in R. De Felice, Mussolini il duce. Gli anni del consenso 1929-1936, Torino, Einaudi, 1996, p. 505.

16 On the parallelism between Italy and Germnay in the aftermath of 1945, cf. R. Cristin (edited by), Vie parallele / Parallele Wege. Italien und Deutschland 1944-2004, Bern, Peter Lang, 2005 and G. E. Rusconi, H. Woller (ed. by), Italia e Germania 1945-2000. La costruzione dell’Europa, Bologna, il Mulino, 2005.

17 P. Guillen, L’Italie et le problème allemand 1945-1955, in Relations internationales, vol. 51, autumn 1987, p. 269-287 and M. Guiotto, Italia e Germania occidentale dalla fine della Seconda guerra mondiale alla fine degli anni ’50, in AA. VV., Italia-Germania 1948-1958. Riavvicinamenti, Firenze, Olschki, 1997, p. 11-115.

18 G. E. Rusconi, La crisi di Weimar. Crisi di sistema e sconfitta operaia, Torino, Einaudi, 1977 and E. Collotti, Esempio Germania. Socialdemocrazia tedesca e coalizione social-liberale 1969-1976, Milano, Feltrinelli 1977.

19 F. Focardi, “Bravo italiano” e “cattivo tedesco”: riflessioni sulla genesi di due immagini incrociate, in Storia e memoria, vol. V, 1, 1996, p. 55-83 and Id., La memoria della guerra e il mito del “bravo italiano”. Origine e affermazione di un autoritratto collettivo, in Italia contemporanea, vol. 220-221, 2000, p. 393-399.

20 L. Caracciolo, La Germania vista dall’Italia, op.cit., p. 55.

21 The episode is recalled in G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa, op.cit., p. 268-269. More in general, see also E. S. Kuntz, Konstanz und Wandel. Deutschlandbilder in der italienischen Presse nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, Frankfurt a. M., Peter Lang, 1997.

22 La Stampa, 18 February 1990.

23 M. Korinman (ed. by), La Germania vista dagli altri, op.cit., p. 14.

24 Corriere della Sera, 26 November 1989 and La Stampa, 6 December 1989.

25 La Repubblica, 15 December 1989.

26 G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa, op.cit., p. 282.

27 Ibid., p. 282-283.

28 This proposal gave birth to the quadrangular initiative, which included Italy, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and subsequently Czechoslovakia and Poland, but which was soon destined to fail because of the looming Yugoslav crisis; Ibid., p. 287.

29 H.-D. Genscher, Erinnerungen, Berlin Siedler, 1995, p. 729. With relation to this episode, cf. also what related by De Michelis in Avanti!, 18 March 1990.

30 L. Caracciolo, La Germania vista dall’Italia, op.cit., p. 57.

31 La Stampa, 22 February 1990.

32 M. Nava, Germania, Germania. Dalla notte del Muro alla riunificazione, Milano, Mondadori, 1990 and L. Gruber, P. Borella, Quei giorni a Berlino. Il crollo del Muro, l’agonia della Germania Est, il sogno della riunificazione: diario di una stagione che ha cambiato l’Europa, Torino, Nuova ERI, 1990.

33 J. Petersen, Die Einigung Deutschlands 1989/90 aus der Sicht Italiens, in J. Becker (Hg.), Wiedervereinigung in Mitteleuropa. Außen- und Innenansichten zur staatlichen Einheit Deutschlands, München, Vögel, 1992, p. 55-90.

34 H. M. Enzensberger, La grande migrazione, It. trans. by P. Sorge, Torino, Einaudi, 1993 [orig. ed.: Die große Wanderung. 33 Markierungen, Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 1992].

35 W. Lepenies, Conseguenze di un evento inaudito: i Tedeschi dopo l’unificazione, It. trans. by S. Kolbe, Bologna, il Mulino, 1993 [orig. ed.: Folgen einer unerhörten Begebenheit. Die Deutschen nach der Vereinigung, Berlin, Siedler, 1992].

36 H. Schmidt, M. Dönhoff, M. Miegel, W. Nölling, E. Reuter, R. Schröder, W. Thierse, Perché la Germania deve cambiare. Un manifesto, It. trans. by V. Di Rosa, Venezia, Marsilio, 1993 [orig. ed.: Weil das Land sich ändern muß. Ein Manifest, Reinbek bei Hamburg, Rowohlt 1992].

37 L. Gruber, P. Borella, Quei giorni a Berlino, op.cit., p. 9.

38 F. Fracassi, Il Quarto Reich, Organizzazioni, uomini e programmi dell’internazionale nazista, Roma, Editori Riuniti, 1996.

39 F. Rampini, Germanizzazione. Come cambierà l’Italia, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1996.

40 R. Mainardi, L’Europa germanica. Una prospettiva geopolitica, Roma, NIS, 1992 and also C. Bastasin, Alexanderplatz. Da Berlino all’Europa tedesca, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1996.

41 J. Petersen, Italianizzazione della Germania? Germanizzazione dell’Italia? L’immagine dell’altro nella reciproca percezione di sé, in G. E. Rusconi, H. Woller (ed. by), Italia e Germania 1945-2000, op.cit., p. 43-57.

42 M. Nava, Germania, Germania, op.cit., p. 170-172.

43 L. Caracciolo, Gli usi geopolitici della germanofobia: fra Europa ed euro, in G. E. Rusconi, H. Woller (edited by), Italia e Germania 1945-2000, op.cit., p. 463-479.

44 P. Ottone, Saremo colonia? O forse lo siamo già, Milano, Longanesi 1997.

45 S. Vertone, Il ritorno della Germania. Dove va la nuova superpotenza europea, Milano, Rizzoli, 1992, p. VII.

46 F. Rampini, Germanizzazione, op.cit., p. 2.

47 A. Bolaffi, Il sogno tedesco. La nuova Germania e la coscienza tedesca, Roma, Donzelli, 1993.

48 G. E. Rusconi, Capire la Germania. Un diario ragionato sulla questione tedesca, Bologna, il Mulino, 1990, p. 11.

49 G. E. Rusconi, Germania Italia Europa, op.cit., pp. 335-336 and subsequent.

50 J. Petersen, Die Einigung Deutschlands 1989/90 aus der Sicht Italiens, op.cit., pp. 56-60.

51 L. V. Ferraris, Wenig Angst und vorsichtige Sympathien-Italien, in G. Trautman (Hg.), Die hässlichen Deutschen?. Deutschland im Spiegel der westlichen und östlichen Nachbarn, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1991, p. 245.

52 R. Giardina, Guida per amare i Tedeschi. Come abbattere il muro di pregiudizi e scoprire la verità su un popolo simpaticamente imperfetto, Milano, Rusconi, 1994, p. 73.

53 I am borrowing the metaphor used by S. Ulrich, Idee simili, pochi problemi e nessun progetto comune. Le relazioni politiche tra Italia e Germania dopo la riunificazione, in G. E. Rusconi, T. Schlemmer, H. Woller (ed. by), Estraniazione strisciante tra Italia e Germania?, op.cit., p. 31-43, here, p. 32.

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Federico Trocini, « Italian reactions to German reunification - Prejudice and reciprocal misunderstandings », Mémoire(s), identité(s), marginalité(s) dans le monde occidental contemporain [En ligne], 8 | 2012, mis en ligne le 08 novembre 2012, consulté le 26 novembre 2014. URL : http://mimmoc.revues.org/1066

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Federico Trocini

Docteur en Sciences Politiques
Dipartimento di Studi Politici, Università degli Studi di Torino

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