The reason why it was so hard for Brandt and Bahr to take a step that suggested itself so clearly as a corollary of their own logic was that the idea of recognizing the territorial status quo in Europe was shrouded in a powerful taboo in West Germany. In a fundamental break with German nationalism Konrad Adenauer had prioritized the integration with the West over reunification – but the other side of that coin was the development of a collective state of denial over the consequences. The fatal logic of ‘es kann nicht sein, was nicht sein darf ’ (what must not be, can not be) was applied to the emerging status quo in the East: the non-recognition of the GDR and the Oder-Neisse border became not only cornerstones of policy but sacred cows of political culture. This obsession quickly gained a considerable momentum of its own. Legal constructions replaced actual realities as constant talking replaced political action, while the increasing gap between claim and reality was bridged only by faith and taboo. The Germans ‘seemed caught up in a theology of their own making’ (Marc Trachtenberg) – this was what Brandt much later called the Lebenslüge, the lived lie, of the early Federal Republic.1