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GERMANY: Honey, Soap & Rayon

2 minute read

Just when the West’s round-table talks in Germany got going, the East wind blew and ruffled the papers on the table. From the West Germans, the U.S., Britain and France were asking military contributions to European defense. In return, they would take almost all controls off West Germany and give her almost complete sovereignty. Getting down to the specifics of this bargain in Bonn last week, the Big Three found West German attention distracted by East German suggestions that they forget soldiering, and, instead, join up in one big, united, neutral Germany (TIME, Oct. 8).

While the Allied High Commissioners and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer dickered, Soviet puppets kept new sideshows going in East Germany. Wilhelm Pieck, East German President, returned from six weeks in Moscow. East Germany took honey, soap and rayon off the ration list, and Propaganda Boss Gerhart Eisler cooed his “deep regrets” that West Germans wouldn’t be able to enjoy the same privileges until unification—though the fact is that such rations are no problem in West Germany. East German Premier Otto Grotewohl announced an amnesty for 20,000 prisoners (crimes unspecified, presumably political).

The Reds—at little expense to themselves—had again stirred up patriotic dreams of One Reich. West Germans hesitate to cut all ties with East Germany in favor of a military alliance with the West. Adenauer’s chief domestic opponent, one-armed, one-legged Kurt Schumacher, whose Social Democrats control one-third of the seats in the Bundestag, called on “all farsighted [Germans] to reject these plans, including the military wishes of the allies.” To the Allied High Commissioners, Adenauer complained that all this united Germany talk made it necessary for him to get more lenient terms from them. The allies wanted no part of that kind of bargaining. At that point negotiations recessed.

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