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. . . .
“We do not want a united Germany,” she said. “This would lead to a change to postwar borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security.”
Details about what was said have just been released from the Russian archives. But Thatcher's uneasiness about German unification, which she shared with the British foreign policy establishment and most of the British press, was no secret at the time, and I read in detail about it years ago, in George H.W. Bush's joint memoir with Brent Scowcroft. Of all the major non-German figures involved, only Bush was a strong supporter of unification from beginning to end. It was his finest hour. Scowcroft admitted in the memoir to his own grave doubts. The whole thing was an exercise in how a big change of any kind, even a really good change, makes people very, very nervous. Although I suppose you have to factor in the historical reasons Europeans had to distrust a powerful German state.