When I lived in Germany in the mid-1980s, it seemed obvious to me that the chances of a pending German reunification were pretty high. West Germany seemed obsessed with its status as a separated twin. That seemed everywhere in the serious literature and film of the time. Yet all my German friends insisted that my expectations were nonsense and that they absolutely had moved on and did not care one whit about East Germany. Still, to me the yearnings were obvious.
At that time I was expecting an overture from the Soviet Union, bringing the two Germanies together and cementing a status somewhere between Finlandization and outright Soviet sympathies. Neutral de jure, but never much upsetting the larger neighbor to the east. The United States wouldn’t much like that arrangement, and would be preparing to pull out its troops, but what could it do?
I simply could not imagine that the USSR would give up its East Germany prize and so 1989-1992 came as a major shock to me. I traveled to the new, free East Germany as soon as I could, not long after the Wall came down, because I wanted to witness what was happening.
For many years, while I was pleased by the unfolding of events, and pleased to have seen an inkling of reunification, I felt my prediction was absolutely, totally wrong.