• U.S.

GERMANY: A Policy for Germany

5 minute read

Last week a TIME correspondent in Germany cabled:

To date U.S. policy has been negative. Much of the criticism of the American Military Government is misconceived because it has been directed at the execution of the policy, whereas it should have been directed at the policy itself or the lack of policy. It is unanimously agreed that the present situation cannot continue for more than a few months. We have to decide what to do with Germany besides destroying it.

So-called denazification has been carried out far more thoroughly in the American zone than in either the Russian or British. At the moment, all other questions are secondary to the dangerous prospect of near-starvation. Obviously you cannot democratize a starving people. Only the extraordinary obedience of the Germans keeps things from falling apart completely.

What should U.S. policy be? Something as follows: the vital interest of America is that Germany should be an independent liberal democracy. A liberal democracy, in America or anywhere else, means that the citizens thereof should have reasonable hopes of improving their condition by their own efforts.

The launching of an independent Germany would be presided over by the great powers and it would be the concern of the U.S. to see that Germany has a full chance to become a liberal democracy rather than Communist.

The Reich’s Solid South

The polls opened early in rural Bavaria last Sunday, but not until after Mass did heavy balloting get under way. Then men in knee-length leather breeches and green felt hats, women in full black skirts and colorful blouses, strolled from the churches to the booths, voted the strongly clerical Christian Social Union top dog in the County Councils, in first returns gave 674,143 votes to 216,950 for the Social Democrats, 34,695 for the Communists and 34,142 for all others.

It was an old Bavarian custom, a victory for a centuries-long tradition of Catholic, monarchical conservatism. U.S. officials had seen it coming, and tried to duck. On the eve of the election they had banned Christian Social Union leader Friedrich Schaeffer from voting or holding party membership, denounced him as a “Nazi sympathizer.”

But it was no use. Bavarians knew that Schaeffer had appointed Nazis to office while serving as U.S.-sponsored Minister President of Bavaria. Many a Nazi was sheltering in the Christian Social Union. But Bavarians wanted it anyway; it looked the way parties looked in the fat, old days.

Perhaps rural Bavaria’s feelings had been best expressed in the pastoral letter striking at Allied occupation policies which Catholic bishops had tried to circulate in the non-Bavarian sections of the U.S. zone, then withdrawn at the request of the U.S. Army. It had hit “the revolting proceedings in eastern Germany, especially in Silesia and the Sudeten region, where more than ten millions of Germans are most brutally driven from their ancestral homes without any investigation, whether personally guilty or not.” The bishops turned to the west and denounced extreme denazification, “by the dismissal of thousands of officials … by the arrest of thousands of others without judicial sentence, by their being deprived of freedom without any possibility of self-defense, without any connection with their relatives.”


Even cigarets (black market price, 75¢ each) would not buy materials to repair a house in Berlin last week. Germans were^ making brick, glass, cement, but the division of the country between four major powers prevented their distribution throughout the Reich.

The same divisions, and the resulting shortages, sent black market, prices soaring. Berlin Germans earning from 100 to 400 marks monthly found it impossible to pay 600 marks for a pound of coffee, 400 to 500 for a pound of butter. Only those with stuff to barter could get extra food or materials.

Daily people grew poorer and life more primitive. A feeling of hopelessness and futility spread among German officials trying to cooperate with four uncoordinated occupying authorities. German production was between 20% and 30% of its prewar figures. To boost it even to the low level permitted by the Potsdam plan would require careful national planning. While Germany remained divided in four zones, it was impossible.

Even more important were the political cleavages developing between the Russian zone and the three Western zones. Having forced a zone-wide merger of the Communist and Social Democratic parties, the Russians were pushing the plan into Berlin. Das Volk, Social Democratic newspaper, went suddenly out of existence, was replaced by the Vorwärts of the new Communist-dominated Socialist Unioneers. In the Western-Power zones, conservatives were gaining influence (see below).

On the record, the deepening of the Potsdam cleavage was all France’s fault. In an effort to wrest the Ruhr and Rhineland away, the French still blocked Reich unification. Off the record, the Russians had quietly encouraged the split; the Americans and British had done little to prevent it.

The only conceivable benefit of the cleavage might be an end of German nationalism along the lines—three separate German states—proposed in 1944 by Sumner Welles. But the plain fact was that German nationalism was growing, fed by disgust with Allied administration. Even the Communists, launching a new Berlin newspaper, used nationalist slogans: “Everything for Germany, everything for the new Germany, is the banner slogan of our new central organ.”

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