On 10 March 1952 the Soviet government unexpectedly sent an identical diplomatic note to the U.S., British, and French governments proposing the conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany on the basis of neutrality. This document, widely known as the Stalin Note, has been a source of controversy ever since, pitting those who see it as an insincere ploy against those who argue that it was a missed opportunity for German unification. Declassified documents from the former Soviet archives, first published in German translation in 2007 in the book Stalins großer Bluff, allow scholars to reconstruct in a detailed way the preparation of the note and to examine whether Iosif Stalin was really ready to sacrifice the GDR and to reunify Germany. This article shows that the Stalin Note was merely a ploy to facilitate the incorporation of the German Democratic Republic into the Eastern bloc and to blame the Western occupying powers for the division of Germany.

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