The early 1970s saw two opposing trends in Europe and South Asia: while German-German détente was able to overcome the limitations of the Cold War, the Indian subcontinent bore witness to another division of a country, when war between India and Pakistan lead to the creation of Bangladesh. The respective alliances of these four countries were very different within in the Cold War context: whereas the two German states’ quite cleary alligned with the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., respectively, the two South Asian states deliberately remained non-aligned. However, with the conclusion of the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty in August 1971, India openly moved closer to Moscow, while Pakistan had already become an important strategic ally of Washington on the Indian subcontinent earlier.
My research project examines the relationship of the Federal Republic and the GDR with India and Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. It analyzes action and reaction of the two German states in this South Asian conflict as an example for the actual agency of seemingly weak developing countries vis-à-vis highly developed countries. The project applies the concept of the “tyranny of the weak” to the unique German-German relationship at the beginning of the 1970s. It also illustrates the pursuit of national interests in the power vacuum of the Cold War with the two superpowers being paralyzed in a nuclear stalemate.