Two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Margaret Thatcher told President Gorbachev that neither Britain nor Western Europe wanted the reunification of Germany and made clear that she wanted the Soviet leader to do what he could to stop it.
You can't trust those Russians - ask them not to write down what you're saying, and they do anyway:
Then she launched her bombshell. She asked that her next remarks should not be recorded. Mr Gorbachev agreed — but the Kremlin transcript included them anyway, noting laconically: “The following part of the conversation is reproduced from memory.” She spoke of her deep “concern” at what was going on in East Germany. She said “big changes” could be afoot.
And this led to her fear that it would all eventually lead to German reunification — an official goal of Western policy for more than a generation.
She assured Mr Gorbachev that President Bush also wanted to do nothing that would be seen by the Russians as a threat to their security.
Hilariously, the article describes how the Russians were left wondering whether they were going to have pull down the Berlin Wall themselves, as no Western leader wanted it to happen. Check out the following conversation:
[Vladimir] Kryuchkov [head of the KGB]: Tomorrow 500,000 people will come out on the streets of Berlin and other cities . . .
Gorbachev: Are you hoping that Krenz [Honecker’s replacement as party boss] will stay? We won’t be able to explain it to our people if we lose the GDR. However, we won’t be able to keep it afloat without the FRG [West Germany].
[Eduard] Shevardnadze [Foreign Minister]: We’d better take down the wall ourselves.
Kryuchkov: It will be difficult for them if we take it down.
Gorbachev: They [East Germany] will be bought up whole . . . And when they reach world prices, living standards will fall immediately.
So, in the end it really was only the Germans who grasped the nettle and tore down the wall. The Western leaders didn't want it because it suited them to have Germany weak and divided. And bizarrely, the main reason Gorbachev didn't want it was because of the disastrous economic effect it would have (and did have) on the DDR. The man really does deserve more credit - and Thatcher a lot less.