"If it were not for the aid and comfort France has given to the Soviet Union, we should have settled the Berlin crisis long ago."
The American officer who said this to me was referring to the French refusal to agree to a stronger stand being taken against Soviet Russia at the beginning of the blockade, and to France's desire to abandon Berlin whatever the cost to Western Europe and America. But his remark, which expressed the exasperation of the American Army at being hobbled by French timidity and Communist influence in France, could be applied to the whole international situation.
France today is like a dead weight hanging around the neck of the free world. Partly because of their concern with the extinct menace of German aggression, partly because of their hope of avoiding war with Soviet Russia by appeasement, and partly because of Communist influence, France prevents the implementation of an American policy designed both to rehabilitate Western Europe and to ensure its defense. At every turn and on every issue, French stalling succeeds in nullifying the American effort to make Europe self-supporting and secure. On the question of reparations, on the Occupation Statute, and on the Ruhr, as in the case of the defense of Berlin, France's short-sighted policy weakens the Western world. If ruled by the Communists, France could not have done a better job in keeping Europe divided, weak, and powerless, and bringing near the day when America will either go bankrupt or revert to an isolationist policy.
The politicians who rule France today, like the Bourbons, seem to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Just as in the
twenties they insisted on implementation of a policy of revenge and retribution which destroyed Germany and gave power to Hitler, so now, once again, they are dragging Europe toward the abyss.
It is one of the curious phenomena of the modern world that the French nation, which prides itself on being the most rational of peoples, acts like an hysterical woman in international affairs. Perhaps the explanation is that given me by an American officer who had participated in the negotiations with the French in Berlin. "The French," he said, "have lost their pride. If they had put up a brave fight against the Germans and kept their self-respect, they would not now be so revengeful and stupid. The British who suffered much more than the French came out of the war with their heads up because of their courage, but the French came out of it with nothing but shame and fear."
The very fact that so many French collaborated with the Germans during the occupation now makes them the foremost exponents of a ruthless policy toward Germany. They seek to expunge the record of their past acceptance of German domination by wanting to kick the conquered Germans harder than those who brought about their defeat.
Talking to this American officer in Berlin, I was reminded of what General Robert E. Wood had said to me years ago. He told me how his grandfather, who was a general in the Civil War, had said to him : "Brave men don't hate their enemies; they respect them. They leave the hating to the women and the preachers."
Unfortunately for the future of the free world, the United States treats France like a beloved mistress, or a weak and foolish wife who must be indulged. Whether it is because of the reverence for French culture, inspired in Americans at school, where French is often the only language taught, or the belief that France still stands for liberty, equality, and fraternity, or simply the attraction of the Paris flesh pots, the State Department, the ECA, and most American newspapermen and authors just love France. Paris is chosen as the headquarters for ECA; Paris is where American trade-union leaders meet their European comrades; Paris is where the United Nations meets when it leaves Lake Success; Paris is the place where all good journalists hope to go.
France, which lacks the will to work or to fight, and has neither the intelligence nor the vision nor the strength to be the leader of Europe, is still regarded in America as the capital of Europe. So the poisonous French atmosphere of corruption, prejudice, weak-
ness, and hate is chosen for the settlement of European problems.
As the New York Times correspondent in Berlin, Sydney Gruson, reported on April 18, 1949 :
Military Government officials who share in General Clay's annoyance with ECA's stand on Germany claim that the Marshall Plan administration operates under a definitely French orientation. Among Americans in Germany that is a serious charge, since the French are always considered at fault for delays and troubles in evolving a three-power policy for Germany due to their intense fears of German resurgence.
The occasion for this despatch was ECA's stalling on General Clay's request for the release of 200,000,000 D marks from the counterpart funds for the purchase of rolling stock and equipment for the German railways. General Clay had also apparently been incensed by the refusal of the ECA authorities to permit part of the 5 per cent counterpart fund earmarked for the use of the American and British military governments, to be used to finance RIAS—the excellent radio station in Berlin which beams anti-Communist propaganda to the Russian zone—and for the Voice of America in its Berlin operations.
The impression that ECA is unduly influenced by the French Government is heightened by the fact that Paul Hoffman and his deputies spend much of their time in Paris and only pay flying visits to other European countries. But it is the special favor shown to France in the allocation of ECA funds and the failure of Paul Hoffman to stop dismantlement by exerting pressure on France and Britain which prove his insufficient regard for the United States taxpayer and the long-term objectives of the Marshall Plan.
As I have already noted in Chapter 3, the ECA did not even try to save most of the factories scheduled for dismantlement, and the State Department went even further than Paul Hoffman's organization in appeasing France and Britain.
The outstanding example of the cost to the American taxpayer of Dean Acheson's readiness to allow France to continue destroying Germany's assets, is the April 1949 agreement to let France tear down part of the great works at Oppau producing nitrogen fertilizers.
The Oppau plant, which is the largest synthetic nitrogen plant in Europe, has the capacity to produce 730 tons of pure nitrogen a day. Its capacity is to be reduced to 410 tons, which means an
annual loss of 100,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer without any corresponding gain in French production. Most of the dismantled equipment will be nothing but scrap, the residual value being calculated as worth only a million dollars, as against the four and a half million dollars originally invested in the plant.
According to the calculations made by Dr. Fritz Baade of the Kiel Institute of World Economy, the nitrogen fertilizer which will have to be imported into Germany to compensate for this loss will cost $300 a ton, or a total of $36,000,000 to pay for the 100,000 tons of production lost through dismantlement.
Thus every dollar which France may eventually gain will cost the American taxpayer thirty-six dollars. Should the loss to the world of the Oppau plant's production result in such a shortage that nitrogen fertilizers cannot be supplied to German agriculture by America, the cost will be even higher. If extra grain has to be imported into Germany as a result of the French dismantlement of Oppau, then each dollar gained by France will cost America two hundred dollars.
If Western Germany is ever to become self-supporting, it requires not less, but more nitrogen fertilizers than before the war. It should be permitted to produce enough to bring its nitrogen fertilizer consumption up to the Dutch-Belgian level of fifty pounds an acre. This would require more than the total original capacity of the Oppau plant. Instead, we are allowing the French to destroy any possibility of German agriculture being supplied with its minimum prewar needs.
Up to now, the French have allowed Oppau to produce only 80,000 tons as against its 200,000 ton capacity, and after delivering two-thirds of this production to the farmers in the French zone, they have exported the rest for France's profit.
Everyone by now knows that the Russians, by refusing to treat Germany as an economic unit, have imposed a crushing burden on the American taxpayer. But few Americans are aware that France is also responsible for the high taxes they have to pay. According to Dr. Baade the refusal of the French to allow Oppau to provide fertilizers for Bizonia has entailed a loss of two million tons grain value a year, which is comparable to the amount lost by Russian intransigeance and the Polish sequestration of former German territory east of the Oder-Neisse line.
Oppau is only one example of the manner in which French policy is weakening Europe and burdening the American economy.
The French in their zone of Germany have acted in a manner comparable only with that of the Russians. They have stripped it of machinery and food to such an extent that only American subsidies are now keeping the German population there alive.
The French have refused to take any of the German expellees from the East, so that their zone, which includes fertile lands, should be self-sustaining. But French looting produced actual starvation until ECA began to give aid in 1948. Today the United States, besides directly subsidizing the French economy to the tune of $875,000,000 a year, is also providing the French zone with $155,000,000 to compensate for what France takes out of it in the way of food, timber, manufactures, and machinery.
The French did not wait upon any Allied agreement to exact reparations. At the beginning of their occupation they started to seize factory equipment and other German assets, so that by the time the Allied dismantlement list was announced, France had already reduced her zone to a productive capacity well below the 1936 level.
The French, who claim that the Germans removed some 60,000 machines from France during the occupation (and take no account of the 40,000 machines which the Germans claim to have delivered to France in the same period) had already taken 45,000 machines from their zone alone when the dismantlement list for all three Western zones was published in 1947. These machines, taken to France as prélèvements, a polite name for looting, do not even figure on the reparations account. And although the Germans in the French zone were told that the official dismantlement program to come afterwards would be modified accordingly, this promise was not kept. Two hundred and thirty-four enterprises were scheduled for dismantlement in October 1947, only thirty-four of which could be regarded as war industries, and most of which belonged to the light-industry categories supposed to be expanded according to the Revised Level of Industry Plan. In Württemberg, for instance, the textile industry has been deprived of all its modern interlock, round knitting, and weaving machinery, and thus precluded from any possibility of exporting. South Baden similarly lost some two thousand textile machines. The factories producing agricultural machinery were similarly dismantled. The machine-tool industry in the Württemberg area was left with only 55 per cent of its capacity after the first French removals, although according to the Level of Industry Plan, it was supposed to be left with 83
per cent. Yet further removals of machinery are now taking place according to the official Allied dismantlement program.
The leather, wood processing, and building industries have been similarly shorn of equipment. The fine mechanics and optics industry, is supposed under the Level of Industry Plan to be allowed a capacity 38 per cent higher than in 1936, but in South Baden the French, by February 1947, had already reduced production to half of the 1936 figure by the removal of 2,155 expensive machines, and have since still further reduced its productive capacity.
Worst of all is the case of the watch and clock industry already referred to in Chapter 3. By their preliminary and subsequent removals of machinery the French have crippled this old industry, which once supplied the livelihood of thousands of people in the Black Forest area.
In the statement it released on April 13, 1949, the ECA office of information in Washington gives a list of "French Voluntary Retentions" in their zone of the whole or part of forty plants, included on the list of 381 examined by the Humphrey Committee. But neither in this report, nor in the Humphrey Committee Report* is any account taken of the huge quantity of factory equipment France has taken out of her zone without reference to the Inter-Allied Reparations Authority, and without making any report to ECA. One of the many injustices to which the German people are now becoming accustomed is that the ECA has recommended the release as reparations of the equipment of many factories producing peacetime goods, because they had already been allocated to recipient nations, but took no account of France's and Britain's removals of machinery not on the dismantlement list, and not figuring as reparations.
The reasons given by the ECA for its decision not to retain in Germany the plants already allocated, rouses a suspicion that even today Washington has not completely abandoned its former policy of appeasing Russia, or was impelled by France and Britain not to annoy Stalin; for in the preamble to the Humphrey Committee report it is stated :
The problem of the political implications involved in a further change of the reparations program, which had already been scaled down
previously, was strongly urged upon us by both the British and the French, as well as by the President of IARA. The fact that, of the nineteen nations entitled to reparations, only nine of them are beneficiaries of the European Recovery Program further complicated that issue. This was particularly important in affecting our decisions with respect to plants that had already been allocated to IARA for reparations and also those which had been additionally sub-allocated by IARA to recipient countries. The complications ensuing with respect to both the allocated and the sub-allocated plants were found to be so involved that, after careful consideration, we recommended to you the immediate release of all such plants.
In other words, Paul Hoffman's organization decided not to stop the dismantlement and shipment of the factory equipment allocated to Soviet Russia and her satellites. This is being done in spite of the "regret" with which the ECA decided "to acquiesce in the removal of some equipment from a number of small factories . . . making articles useful for a peacetime economy."
The machinery released by ECA for shipment to the Communists is by no means only that taken from peacetime industries. It also includes precisely the types of heavy machinery regarded as "strategic goods," which the countries in receipt of Marshall Plan aid are forbidden to export to Russia. So we have the strange spectacle of ECA agreeing to deliver to the Communists from Germany precisely those items which are recognized as helping to increase the Soviet war potential.
All in all, dismantlement, even as modified by the recent agreement with the ECA authorities, will leave the French zone with no more than half the industrial capacity of 1936.
The ECA authorities did not, apparently, even try to save such specialized peacetime factories as the Wafios works near Tubingen which I visited. Wafios was one of the most modern factories in Germany and produced wire-working machinery for the production of paper clips, safety pins, bobby pins, wire netting, and upholstery springs. At the beginning of the occupation the French came and took away 200 machine tools from Wafios without so much as giving an official receipt. A few months later three French officers came and took another 34 machines for use in France. Next came "Section T" of the French Military Government which took another 70, saying, "This is final; we will not take anything more
from you." When the owner of Wafios said he was left without enough machinery to carry on, he was told : "You can now learn to work in the primitive way without modern machinery." Finally in the summer of 1948 yet another French commission arrived and ordered 72 more machines to be dismantled, this time as regular reparations to be allocated by IAIA. This last lot of machinery was standing out in the open when I visited the Wafios plant and would presumably soon become scrap.
Wafios at the time of my visit had about a quarter of its original equipment, consisting of its oldest machinery. A family-owned enterprise, where the relations between workers and employer were similar to those which prevailed in Siegen, with the owner managing somehow or other to obtain cider and fat for his men to keep them from starving, Wafios was still working, although many operations had to be carried on by hand. The owner said to me : "I have traveled all over the world; now I sit here in this crazy madhouse, while the French, British, and American military missions come one after another. The world is now full of loafers in uniform and dollars will not save it until there are no more ignoramuses with military authority."
The French spoliation of German forests, which arouses more resentment and hatred than their looting of replaceable property, is also likely to have harmful and enduring consequences for Europe as a whole. Everywhere you go in the French zone you see huge stacks of logs by the roadside, or being carted along the roads. The Black Forest is still beautiful, but in many places the trees have been cut down and ugly stumps witness to the despoliation of one of the loveliest places in Europe.
The French, according to German reports, have already cut down three times as much timber as Germany took from the whole of France during the occupation.
The British have also severely depleted German timber resources. Timber fellings in the British zone were four times larger than the increment by growth in 1946, three and a half times larger in 1947, and more than twice as large in 1948. The British have decreased their demands year by year, but the French have increased them, so that in 1948 the percentage of trees they cut down as compared with increments was 379.
C. A. Schenck, the founder of the Biltmore Forest School, in a pamphlet published in New York in 1948, shows that the woodland area per capita of the population is only 0.33 acres in Germany in
comparison with almost 4 acres in the United States, where there is, nevertheless, no longer any superabundance of timber.
Only 0.5 per cent of the timber area of the world is in Germany, and there is an annual shortage of timber of 290 million cubic feet which used to be imported. Yet 7 per cent of Germany's forest reserves have been listed for cutting since the occupation, and are being sent abroad.
As Mr. Schenck's pamphlet points out, the worst feature of the British and French cuttings is in their failure to observe the rules of silviculture in their cutting, and to replant the denuded areas. He writes :
In the French zone of the Black Forest 3,000 Italians are now employed by the French Military Government at clear cutting on a gigantic scale. The British are employing (notably in the Harz Mountains) 700 English colonial soldiers as lumberjacks. Naturally in these operations all time-honored rules of silviculture are omitted, since they are an impediment to logging.
The author also states that there were already 33,600 acres in the French zone crying for reforestation; 75,000 in North Rhineland in the British zone, and 41,000 in the United States zone.
The Germans have not only suffered a severe diminution of their forests through British and French cuttings and exports. The forced export of coal has also led to increased use by the Germans of wood as fuel for house heating.
The soil erosion which is resulting from the uneconomic exploitation of Germany's forests by her conquerors will seriously reduce the quantity of arable land. It is also likely to have a permanently harmful effect on the climate of Europe.
The Swiss are already concerned at the climatic effects of the French and British deforestation of Germany.
The German climate [a Swiss forestry expert wrote] is assuming steppe features. This danger ought to be taken seriously, not only in Germany itself but in all Europe. It is certain that as a consequence climatic changes will take place in Switzerland. . . . Reforestation is not taken care of after the cuttings have been made, because of the lack of personnel, seeds and plants.*
An article in the forestry journal of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Unasylva, July-August 1947) stated : "Many countries view an excessive depletion of Germany's wood resources with grave anxiety as upsetting the whole economic structure and balance of Europe and as mortgaging the future with a problem it will take at least a hundred years to adjust."
As Edmund Burke said at the time of the French Revolution, you cannot indict a whole nation. It would be as unfair to account the whole French people responsible for the vindictive stupidity of present-day French policy as it is to regard all Germans as having been supporters of the Nazi regime. It is the French politicians of all parties who play upon national passions and hatreds for their own advantage who are responsible for the vendetta against the Germans which is weakening all Europe, and may succeed in delivering it to Stalin. For the strange thing today is that the French people, as distinct from their government, seem more friendly to the Germans than in the past. This is the impression gained by such Germans as Dr. Ernst Reuter and Annadore Leber who have visited France recently; it was also my own.
During the two weeks I spent in Paris in the summer of 1948 I made a point of asking every Frenchman I met how it had been under the German occupation. And the answer I received was almost always the same, whether I spoke to the waiters in restaurants, to workers or small shop keepers, to servants or porters : A shrug of the shoulders and the remark, "Well, we ate a little better then than now." And the last man I spoke to, who was the porter who carried my bag to the train on which I was returning to Germany, said, "If only we French could get together with the German people, everything would be better; that would be something. We might then enjoy peace and a decent living."
It seemed in France that it was the rich, not the poor, who hated the Germans, for the latter during the occupation had at least ensured an equitable distribution of the food and goods available, whereas in Liberated France the rich got richer and the poor poorer every day.
On my way from England to Germany via Ostende at the beginning of August 1948 I had a conversation which throws some light on the discrepancy between the attitude of the French and Belgian governments and press and the sentiments of many French
and Belgian citizens of the middle and lower classes. I was traveling second-class as I usually do, not only for reasons of economy, but because people are more inclined to speak freely to strangers on long train journeys than in any other circumstances. If you travel in comfort in an international sleeping car the chances are that you will speak little or not at all to your fellow passengers, and that most of them will be foreigners like yourself. But in the second- and third-class carriages where you sit up all night the hours pass more quickly if you talk. So I have often had intimate conversations with strangers whom I would never meet again and who for that reason feel secure in revealing their true sentiments.
On this occasion four people including myself occupied the carriage. Opposite me there was an Englishman with whom I soon got involved in a friendly argument about Germany. At one point in our discussion he turned to the lady sitting at his side and, after giving her a summary of our discussion in French, said : "Madame will certainly agree with me since her people suffered under the German occupation." The lady, who was remarkably pretty, replied : "No, Monsieur, I agree entirely with Madame. I am very sorry for the German people today, and besides I see no sense in the present policy of keeping them in such miserable conditions that they may be driven to side with Russia against us."
The man next to me, who turned out to be a Belgian businessman on his way to Prague, broke in and said : "We simply cannot understand the American policy of destroying Germany so that there is no barrier between us and Soviet Russia. It is we who will suffer the results of Anglo-American stupidity when the Russians sweep across Europe."
The Englishman said he was very astonished that my views instead of his should be finding support, since this could hardly be the general sentiment of the Belgian population. Thereupon the young Belgian lady said to him : "Monsieur, you should not believe everything which is said to you in public. Many people will not tell you their real opinion. Today there is a black market in ideas."
This seemed to me a penetrating observation. In such countries as France and Belgium where lynch law was applied to collaborators after the liberation, fear of showing friendliness to the German people has not yet died down. And even in the freest countries people often say what is expected of them, expressing the sentiments considered as orthodox and respectable, although they may have quite different views "under the counter." Just as free trade
in many European countries is now called black-marketeering, so in the realm of politics and international affairs, common sense, logic, humanity, and reasonableness are too often considered as evidence of depravity or reaction.
The influence of what is regarded as public opinion, because it is the view expressed in the newspapers and in the statements of politicians, is almost as potent as a Gestapo or a GPU in silencing "dangerous thoughts."
The Belgian lady made it clear to me, however, that it was not only the fear of not being considered respectable which led many people to demand revenge, although they actually had no hatred for the German people and knew that Allied policy toward Germany hurt them as much as the Germans. After I had given her a copy of an article of mine pleading for a rational and humane attitude toward the Germans, she expressed great astonishment. "Is it really possible to say such things in the United States?" she said. "Why, here in Belgium, you would be sent to prison if you published such an article as the one you have shown me."
The article in question was one I had written for the Washington newsletter, Human Events, in which I had contrasted the barbarism of our present-day policy toward the defeated with the greater humanity and intelligence of conquerors in past ages, when chivalry or rational self-interest had restrained the victors from wreaking all-out vengeance on the vanquished. The Belgian lady told me how a friend of hers had been arrested in the winter of 1947-48 and kept in prison without food for three days, for having dared to protest against the Allied policy of starving the Germans.
Three months later, when I traveled through the French zone, I was struck by the contrast between the attitude of the French soldiers I talked to and that of their government and the occupation authorities.
I visited the French zone three times, but the longest time I spent there was when I drove from Siegen to the Black Forest in October with Helmuth Weber, his sister Margarita, and her French husband René. The two men had business to do in the French zone and I took the opportunity to go with them in the old Mercedes. I had already learned how difficult it is to find out anything if one comes to the French zone as an American journalist, because the German factory owners are forbidden on pain of imprisonment to tell Americans about the French seizures of machinery or to admit them to their factories.
Traveling with both Helmuth and René I had the advantage of getting both the Germans and the French to talk to me with little constraint. When we visited German factories René remained in the background, and when I went into cafés and barracks to talk to the French, Helmuth usually stayed behind in the automobile. However, there were also many occasions when we all got together with both Germans and French and I found that neither had any personal hostility toward the other. Indeed I was struck by the friendliness displayed by the French poilus (GI's) toward the German people. Moreover, unlike the Paris politicians, they were hoping that the Germans would fight with them if Russia attacked, instead of fearing, or pretending to fear, German aggression.
Poor René, who was anxious to convince me that the French were not so bad as I imagined, was delighted when the French soldiers, junior officers, and workers we talked to echoed his own chivalrous and intelligent views. But the trouble with the French, as Carlo Schmidt had said to me, is that individually they are reasonable, but once they become part of the bureaucratic apparatus, they are impossible.
There were a considerable number of French workers in the zone, mechanics and lumberjacks, some of whom I spoke to at Alpirsbach, a tiny village in the Black Forest where we spent two nights. Although they were working for the French capitalists, denuding Germany of her timber, they were themselves paid so little that they were little better off than the Germans their employers were robbing.
Most of the French soldiers and workers look as poor as, and are usually dirtier and more unkempt than, the Germans, so that it is difficult to regard them as a master race, or as exploiters and oppressors of the subject German people. There is, moreover, no such social and economic barrier between the French "common man" and his German counterpart, such as that which divides the Americans from the conquered.
The French, let it be said to their credit, have not inculcated their soldiers and civilians with any doctrine of national superiority, and they have observed the old and honorable rules of warfare at least with regard to the billeting of their occupation forces. French officers and soldiers live in German homes without throwing the owners into the street as the British and Americans have done. The owners in some cases are relegated to the cellar or the attic, and many Germans complain of the destruction and neglect of
their houses by the French, but at least they are still permitted to find shelter in their own homes.
Thus, in the French zone there is a curious contrast between the great hatred of the French occupation authorities who have fleeced the people, confiscated their cattle and grain and machines, starved them, and sent them to prison for protesting against French oppression and looting, and the day-to-day, if not friendly, at least equalitarian, relations between many individual French and German people.
The impression I received in Germany was that whereas on the governmental level the Americans are regarded as the most humane and rational of the occupying powers, in personal contact the French are somewhat less disliked than the Americans and the British.
The same contrast is to some extent true of the Russians. In Berlin I was often told that General Sokolovsky and his staff treated the Germans with whom they came in contact with far greater friendliness, politeness, and consideration than the Americans or the British. If French policy and actions matched the personal behavior of the French occupation forces, there is no doubt that they would be better liked than the Americans.
The French, again like the Russians, have made a point of conciliating the former ruling classes in Germany while oppressing the German workers, capitalists, and peasants. In the French zone, as in the Soviet zone, former Nazis are regarded as valuable allies if they will carry out French wishes; and neither the Russians nor the French have condemned the German officer class to the pauper status to which they are relegated in the United States zone.
Whereas we accept or reject the co-operation of Germans according to their social or economic origins or class status, the French like the Russians are uninterested in a man's antecedents providing he is ready to collaborate.
The French, like the Russians, seek to win over the intelligentsia, whereas in the American zone professors, students, and writers are placed in the lowest category when it comes to food rations, and find it almost impossible to exist. For instance, the French have restored the University of Freiburg and refounded the ancient University of Mayence closed for over a century, whereas the Americans occupy most of the university buildings at Heidelberg for their own use and have kept students in the lowest category for food rations. While the American Military Government has cold-
shouldered any German intellectuals of independent views, the French have welcomed them and tried to conciliate them.
In Germany I was often reminded of the observations made by my brother who sailed the Pacific for several years before he died in the Fiji Islands where he had settled down to practice as a doctor in 1934. In his letters he had contrasted the wonderful hospital at Fiji, and the sanitation and medical services provided by the British, with the severe exploitation of the native peoples by the French, but the latter's better individual behavior toward the natives.
The British, he had said, did the right thing but looked down on the natives and refused to mix with them socially. The French on the other hand, squeezed all they could out of the native population of their islands and provided few of the amenities of civilization in return, but they put up no color bar in their social intercourse with the natives. It seemed as if the same was true in Germany. The German "upper classes," excluding the industrialists ruined by the French, were on better terms with their conquerors than the same elements in the United States and British zone. But the German workers, factory owners, and peasants hated France who robbed them and deprived them of their livelihood.
The French were also playing a clever game in representing themselves as having a common interest with the Germans in opposition to the United States. I cannot vouch for the truth of all the stories I heard, but it seemed that the French were trying to persuade the Germans to make common cause with them against America. For instance, I was told that the French authorities in 1948 had proposed a secret deal which would have allowed the Germans to keep all their machinery over fifteen years old, irrespective of the dismantlement list, if they would turn over to the French all the new machinery they obtained from the Americans or the United States zone of Germany. I was also told that French officers were saying to the Germans they were not really so hostile and revengeful as they seemed, but it was necessary for France to take this line in order to get maximum aid from America; that only insistence on French fears of Germany could enable them to obtain large subsidies from America.
As I have already said, I have no proof of the truth of such assertions, but there seemed little doubt that the French were playing a very devious game. Like the Russians they offer jobs to Germans penalized by the United States Military Government or offended
by the cavalier treatment they have received at American hands. And like the Russians they offer privileges to anyone ready to support their policy.
In the economic sphere the corruption which is the characteristic of French internal politics has free play in Germany. Factory owners were told they could save their machinery if they would give bribes to French officials, and German industrial corporations were offered the choice of having their enterprises taken as reparations, or allowing the French a controlling interest as majority stockholders.
Generally speaking, it seemed that the French, in their own small way, limited as they were by their lack of military power, were playing much the same game as the Russians. They offered material benefits, privileges, and forgiveness for former Nazi affiliations, to all who would serve their interests today. They expropriated, penalized, or sent to prison the honest liberals and conservatives who opposed them, while asking no questions concerning the past of those ready to collaborate with them. It was therefore not surprising to find great hatred of the French among both the liberal socialists and conservative capitalists, but considerable amity for the French among reactionary Bavarian monarchists and separatists, and among the German officer class which was treated with greater respect and justice by the French than by the Americans. General Koenig, the French military governor, in contrast to Generals Clay and Robertson, allowed German officers and their widows to receive their pensions. For, as General Speidel's wife said to me in Freudenstadt, "the French have at least a sense of honor." Perhaps honor does not entirely explain it; it would seem that the French, like the Communists, try to take advantage of the resentment caused by American policy in Germany, while using all their influence to impel the United States to get itself hated by the Germans. In this, as in so many other respects, the French play the Communist game, although they imagine they are playing their own hand.
The seeming contradictions in France's policy are explained by her old aim of dividing Germany by fostering separatist tendencies, and her hope of incorporating the Rhineland territories into a Greater France. Having succeeded this time in detaching the Saar from Germany by threatening to dismantle its industries and ruin its people unless they voted to join France, the French no doubt
still hope to be equally successful in the rest of their zone by means of intimidation and bribery.
"A good German," in French eyes, is a German prepared to sacrifice his country's interests in order to save his own. Any German prepared to do so can enjoy a "happy life" whether or not he was formerly a Nazi and whatever his present political sympathies. The French care not at all whether a man is a democrat; he only needs to be pro-French or to be ready to serve French interests. Thus French policy is the very antithesis of American : we refuse to be friends even with those most anxious to collaborate with us unless we are sure their past is irreproachable.
One German I talked to in the French zone had been offered a huge income by the French Military Governor if he would accept the position of head of an "independent" palatinate.
The atmosphere in the French zone is in many respects like that under the Soviet terror. There are no concentration camps, but the Sûreté is regarded by the Germans as another Gestapo, and people are imprisoned for no other offense than that of complaining against the occupation authorities, or protesting the seizure of their property.
A current joke I heard expresses the feelings of the German people. French trucks and automobiles are all labeled TOA, the letters standing for Transport Occupation Allemagne. But the Germans say TOA stands for "Terror Ohne (Without) Adolf!"
The sullen faces of the people, their extreme poverty, and the difficulty we experienced in buying any food except potatoes, witnessed to the omnipresent fear of the French and the manner in which they have stripped their zone of food and goods. The French live off the land like the Russians, and again like the Russians they employ huge numbers of people to force the peasants to give up their milk, eggs and live stock, vegetables, and even grain.
In Baden Baden where General Koenig lives in state like a Viceroy of India, there are more French people than Germans—40,000 against 30,000, according to the calculations of the Ministry of Economics for Württemberg-Hohenzollern. France uses her zone as a training ground for her conscript army and the French occupation forces not only bring in their wives and children, but also their grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and cousins. Besides all these people living off the German economy, there are the children and invalids brought from France for holidays or cures, who have
to be supplied with huge quantities of milk, butter, and eggs. Until 1948 many Germans in the French zone were literally starving, but since last summer, American ECA appropriations to the French zone have somewhat ameliorated their condition.
A German doctor and his wife whom I visited at Wissen, in the French zone adjoining Siegen, told me that after being without any fat ration for months, they had received a pound of butter in August, thanks to America. They now had some hopes of being able to save their little boy, who, like so many other German children in the French zone, had developed tuberculosis because French requisitions left no milk or fats for German consumption. They and everyone else I talked to were wondering whether America would really force the French to stop their locustlike activities, or whether United States aid to the French zone would be drained off by France for her own use.
Of course, some of the peasants manage to hide their food from the French as I discovered at a little inn in a village in the lovely countryside above the Rhine Valley. On this occasion I was returning from a drive to Altenkirchen. We stopped to drink a glass of wine at the inn and, thanks to Otto who is the type of person who jokes and gets friendly with everyone, we soon had the landlady sitting with us and talking freely. I drew her out about the French, and she told us how they had come into the farmhouses and taken away the linen and even the furniture, as well as all the food they could find. They took all the milk, confiscated the live stock and slaughtered it for their own use, and in general left the Germans almost nothing to eat. However, she ended up by asking us if we would like to taste some Westphalian ham. Of course we said we would be delighted and, laughing, she took me with her to her bedroom and showed me the ham hidden in a box under her bed.
The ham was delicious and while we were eating it two men came in who might have posed for pictures symbolizing country and town, peasant and worker, in occupied Germany. The first one was a giant of a young man, red-haired, blue-eyed and ruddy faced, handsome and strong, and fit from his appearance to star as a Wagnerian hero. The other was small and emaciated, greyfaced and sad, and dressed in patched cotton overalls. The first was a peasant and the other a metal worker earning only 75 pfennigs an hour, since the factories in the French zone pay the lowest wages. Incidentally, this worker was one of the very few people
I met in Germany who not only admitted he had been a Nazi, but said he still was one in sentiment. In his view the workers had "never had it so good" as under Hitler, and he was very bitter at the Allied confiscation of the Labor Front's security funds, hospitals, and sanitariums. He had consumption and said that he would formerly have been aided, but now he could get no medical aid.
I hoped that it was only in the French zone that workers were being driven back to Nazism by their miserable conditions of life; but I fear it is also true in Bizonia.
The young peasant, for his part, had no interest in politics. When I asked him how he lived, he laughed and said, "We peasants always manage; the French aren't smart enough to find everything."
Of course, it is the townspeople who suffer most when, as in the French zone, the peasants can only sell at a profit on the black market, and deliver food at the prices the French pay only under compulsion.
The number of people required to force peasants to give up food in exchange for low fixed prices makes the whole proceeding uneconomic. For instance, at a small farm I visited in a clearing in the depths of the Black Forest far away from any town or village, I was told that the French periodically sent three men to collect what was demanded. The farm was worked by a woman and her three sons, two other sons having fallen in the war, and the youngest being a prisoner of war in Russia. They had four cows, and three bullocks, some pigs and chickens, sufficient arable land to produce enough grain for their own bread and animal fodder and a large vegetable garden. They had to deliver 700 liters of milk per cow per year, although only the best cows, they said, gave as much as 2,000 liters a year. The French also took so many pigs out of each litter, so many eggs per hen, 43 hundredweight of potatoes, a certain quantity of grain, and so on. The largest of the three bullocks was to be taken the following week.
Whether or not the French were justified in taking as much as they did, the point which struck me was the waste of labor involved in this forcible collection from thousands of little farms, of what, in sum, amounted to a small quantity of food. The sustenance of the inspectors employed must have eaten up most of the supplies thus obtained. The Soviets discovered long ago that the only way to force the agrarian population to give up the fruits of its labor for nothing, or for a price far below its value, is to herd
the peasants into collective farms and treat them like factory workers. It simply can't be done except at a prohibitive cost so long as individual farmers cultivate the land.
The family I visited in the Black Forest were not actually badly off in spite of their resentment against the French. But this was because their most profitable activity was the manufacture of Kirsch, the spirit made out of cherries which is the specialty of the region. They kept their stills in the forest where the French were unable to find them and did a thriving black-market trade in Germany and across the French border near Strasbourg. All they needed to do was to give some of their liquor to the French sentries.
It is, of course, the French themselves who profit most from the denial to the Germans of customs control at the borders of the French zone. Professor Karl Brandt of Stanford University, who was spending his sabbatical year teaching at Heidelberg University, took me over into Switzerland in his automobile so that I could see for myself what goes on at the frontier. When our automobile arrived at the customs barrier at Basel, two French sergeants examined our passports but did not even inquire whether we had any German currency or goods to declare. The two German customs officials at the barrier were not allowed to come near our automobile, much less inspect our luggage.
It was thus very easy for any Allied nationals to export anything they pleased from Germany via the French zone, and the French were largely responsible for the fall in value of the new D mark caused by the illegal export by black-marketeers of goods needed in Germany. Dr. Brandt and I calculated how quickly a fortune could be made by, for instance, bringing cognac into Germany from France, selling it on the black market at a profit of several hundred per cent, using the marks thus obtained to buy German manufactured goods, and then running them into Switzerland for re-export. Alternatively, any Allied national could take his marks into Switzerland and sell them there to a Swiss bank, which could dispose of them at a tenth of their official value to those who wished to buy goods in Germany. All this illegal trade naturally stimulated the production of luxury goods in Germany for illegal export, in place of necessities. So whereas, for instance, shoes are very high priced and scarce on the German market, great quantities of leather are used to make ladies' purses and other fancy goods.
The Russians in Berlin were similarly doing "good business" in undermining the German currency. Following currency reform the French had already reaped a huge exchange profit without any
effort on their part. Out of a total of 5,000,000,000 marks, which was the original new currency issue in June 1948, the British took 266,000,000, the Americans 255,000,000, and the French 250,000,000, for their own use. The total drain on the German economy thus came to over three-quarters of a billion, or 15 per cent of the money in circulation. The French share being disproportionately large, in view of the small size of their zone, they allowed their nationals to exchange practically unlimited amounts at par, whereas the Germans were allowed a maximum of forty marks a head at the exchange rate of ten old marks for one D mark. Consequently, the French before currency reform busied themselves acquiring all the old marks they could lay their hands upon, by fair means or foul. In some cases they went to German friends and made a deal, in other cases they sought the good will of their German servants by offering to exchange the latter's savings for them at par, and in some known instances the French surrounded whole villages and confiscated all the money of the inhabitants. One way or another, the French acquired huge quantities of the new currency and proceeded to export it to Switzerland where there is a free exchange. When this racket subsided they renewed their profits by the export of marks obtained by black-market dealings, or by fresh confiscations of German property.
As I have already related, General Clay tried to induce the French to stop the leak of marks and goods across the frontiers of their zone, but the State Department gave way to the French, and the Occupation Statute denies effective customs control to the proposed Western German government. As usual, the French are being allowed to undermine the German economy while the United States taxpayers supply funds for its support.
American GI's and the pilots of the air lift evidently do not share the State Department's predilection for the French, but their views do not, of course, affect United States policy.
On my first flight out of Berlin on the air lift the United States pilot said to me : "The British are doing a swell job, but do you know, the French aren't helping at all to supply Berlin? They only fly in cognac for sale on the black-market or to Americans." And the sergeant mechanic said :
"Do you know that those b-- in Paris won't let you into the best hotels unless you are an officer?"
Another pilot, who flies a United States staff plane, said to me :
"I always know when I have left Germany. When I look down and see uncultivated fields with no one working in sight I know I am over France. Those guys needn't work since they have us Americans to work for them."
These sentiments are, of course, also prejudiced. But it is a fact that the French, if they worked as they once did, and did not so mismanage their economy and finance, should have had no need of American food subsidies except during the 1946-47 drought. The land of France is fertile and she is not overpopulated.
In Paris one is shocked by the abundant luxury displayed in food and clothing in contrast to the poverty of the French workers and British austerity. The number of waiters, hotel servants, and others catering to the luxury trades would surely allow France to dispense with a large part of her ECA appropriation if they were set to work producing necessities and exports. In a word, the French upper classes are still enjoying a far easier and pleasanter life than most of the American taxpayers supporting the French economy.
But France, apparently, has only to ask to receive. No one demands anything of her but a smile and her good will. So France goes on talking about her war losses, although her looting in Germany, combined with reparations and American gifts, have more than compensated for the material damage she suffered during the war and the occupation.
Whereas the manner in which the British dispose of American aid is examined and subject to criticism, like those of a wife, France is treated by the United States like a mistress whose favors are uncertain and whose extravagances are not questioned.
It would not matter much if all that was involved was the pensioning of "La Belle France" by generous Uncle Sam, or the maintenance of Paris as a city of pleasure for the delectation of State Department and ECA officials, and American newspapermen. The danger lies in the influence which France exerts on American policy—an influence which is likely to increase rather than diminish once the State Department takes over the administration of Germany. The Army has to be realistic, since it has to fight the wars which poor diplomacy brings about. And the Army's view of the value of the French is summarized in the remark made to me by a member of General Clay's staff : "The French won't fight. Period."
"Why then," I asked, "does so much consideration have to be given to the French point of view? Why, if the French are of no
value as allies, must we continually give way to France, on dismantlement, on the Ruhr and just about everything else?"
The answer I received was to the effect that America could not go ahead with the rehabilitation of Western Europe and with plans for its defense with active opposition in the rear, in France; that the French tell the Americans that if they get involved in war with Russia, as for instance over Berlin, they, the French, will stay out of it and refuse bases to the United States. The French, in effect, blackmail the United States, saying they will be neutral in any war with Russia, unless America concedes everything they want regarding Germany.
The French tell the Americans that in their concern over the danger of a third world war, they must prepare to win it in such a way as to prepare the way for a fourth one; that America must not make use of Germany to help defeat Soviet Russia, because the end result would be German supremacy in Europe. In answer to this the American Army authorities say : "Well, if you won't permit the Germans to defend themselves against Russia, are you yourselves prepared to defend her?" And, of course, the French then throw up their hands in horror and cry, "What! We defend Germany? Are you crazy?"
The net result of French intransigeance is that the United States is expected to defend Europe, and to pursue a policy toward Germany which not only renders her defenseless, but would endanger the American Army's security in war by creating hatred of the United States among the German population.
In these difficult circumstances General Clay and the Department of the Army appear to have endeavored to steer a middle course. They have made every possible concession to the French point of view, but have refused to agree to the complete ruin of Germany demanded by France. They have gone on hoping that if the American taxpayer continued to make up the losses resulting from the concessions made to the French on dismantlement and the Ruhr, Western Europe including Germany will eventually be federated and all its resources and manpower mobilized for defense against the Soviet menace. This hope is based on the belief that in time French fears can be allayed and France will then allow Germany and Europe to recover economic prosperity and be made strong enough to resist Communist pressure. But this hope must disappear if the French continue to miss their opportunity to become as strong as a free Germany.
Many as are the criticisms which can be leveled at the United States Military Government, the American Army must be given the credit for seeing things straight and seeing them whole. Since they bear the responsibility for the defense of Western Europe as well as of the United States, the Military cannot afford to live in the cloud cuckoo land inhabited by many of the civilians who determine Administration policy. The Army was, therefore, naturally incensed at what it regarded as France's "sabotage"* of the June 1948 London agreement to set up a West German state and of other measures designed to stem the Communist tide.
When the discussions on the Occupation Statute (which according to the London agreement was to be negotiated by the military governors) were referred back to the British, French, and American governments, the New York Herald Tribune reported :
It is an open secret that the French, who consider General Clay a hardboiled American, prefer to shift everything possible to the governmental level, where they have frequently been able to obtain concessions they were unable to get from the American Military Government. Many officials here [in Germany] believe that in negotiations at the governmental level the French and British deal with Americans who know the German problem far less intimately than does General Clay's staff. The results were described this way by an American official in Berlin : "Sometimes it seems to us that the American negotiators at the higher level—not really acquainted with the full details and history of each issue—do not know the importance of what they are giving away."
Unfortunately for the security of Europe and the peace of the world, the State Department is now assuming control of America's German policy. This means, now that Dean Acheson is Secretary of State, that America is giving way to France on the most vital issues, annulling the effects of Marshall Plan assistance to Europe, and jeopardizing the peace of the world. For nothing can be more certain than that, if France's hysterical, or simulated, fear of Germany, combined with her desire to appease Russia, continue to determine United States policy, Europe will be so weakened and the Communists so strengthened, that Stalin will be emboldened to attack the Western world.
The influence of France was most clearly displayed when the Occupation Statute was presented to the Germans on April 10, 1949. Instead of allowing the Germans the self-government promised a year ago, all real power is reserved to the occupation authorities.
This statute can most fitly be compared to the old Japanese constitution and the present Soviet constitution, which similarly take away in one paragraph the liberties and rights granted in another. While pretending to give the Western Germans the right to rule themselves, the Occupation Statute gives them responsibility without power : an overriding veto is imposed on the legislative, judicial, administrative, and economic powers of the proposed West German government.
It is necessary to examine this spurious document in some detail to appreciate the conditions of servitude we have offered to the German people under the veneer of liberty.
The Occupation Statute "specifically reserves" to the occupying powers not only powers over disarmament, reparations, and restitutions, but also over all the following fields : scientific research, restrictions on industry, prohibition of civil aviation, decartelization and deconcentration of industry, nondiscrimination in trade, foreign interests in Germany, foreign affairs and foreign trade, displaced persons and admission of refugees. Nor is this by any means all. The occupation powers not only continue to control Germany's foreign trade for their own benefit. They are to continue to control internal German economic policy and the use Germany makes of her imports. Paragraph 2(e) is the real joker, since it can be interpreted to mean just anything and everything. For it says that the occupation authorities reserve to themselves all the powers necessary for the "protection, prestige and security of Allied forces, dependents, employees and their representatives, their immunities and satisfaction of occupation costs and their other requirements."
Nor are the Germans to be permitted to enjoy the protection of law, habeas corpus, or other civil liberties. "The civil rights of every person," according to paragraph 6, "to be protected against arbitrary arrest, search or seizure, to be represented by counsel, to be admitted to bail as circumstances warrant, to communicate with relatives, and to have a fair and prompt trial," are all "subject to the requirements of the security of the occupation authorities."
The "German Federal Government" is not even to be permitted to pass any laws without first notifying the occupation authorities, who can veto any legislation "inconsistent with decisions or actions taken by the occupation authorities themselves."
Finally the conquerors reserve the right to annul, at any moment, even the extremely limited powers granted to the puppet government they want to establish. Paragraph 3 of the Occupation
Statute says : "The occupation authorities reserve the right . . . to resume, in whole or in part, the exercise of full authority if they consider that to do so is essential to security or to preserve democratic (sic) government in Germany, or in pursuance of the international obligations of their governments."
India, before she gained her independence, was a freer country than Germany under the colonial status laid down for her in the Occupation Statute. In this connection it is worth mentioning a conversation I had in Düsseldorf with the correspondent of several Indian newspapers. I had said to him that Germany now seemed to have been relegated to the same status as nineteenth-century India, and he replied : "Yes, I always say to my German friends, 'We had it, and now you have it; we are now free, but you have become the subjects of America, Britain, and France, and you have fewer rights than we had before we gained our independence, for at least the British instituted a rule of law in India, whereas in Germany there is no such thing.'"
Not only does the Occupation Statute deny to the Germans those elementary human rights which Mrs. Roosevelt and other American delegates to UNESCO are so fond of talking about. It also is obviously designed to prevent Germany from competing on the world market. Both her foreign trade and her scientific research are to be controlled by her conquerors and competitors. Thus Germany is to be handicapped in the development of new techniques, or forced to let her competitors derive the benefit of the future inventions of her scientists and technicians.
This proviso in the Occupation Statute is the most disastrous of all its clauses from the point of view of European recovery. For Europe cannot hope to live without American subsidies unless it can develop new technical processes and overcome its lack of natural resources through scientific discoveries and the development of its chemical industries. The Germans, as everyone knows, have led the world in the invention of substitutes through chemical processes. They are now to be kept from utilizing their brains, inventiveness, and capacity for painstaking research for their own and Europe's benefit. It is as if the brightest and most industrious boy in the class were forbidden to study and work.
Dean Acheson's bland statement that there is "no foundation" for the contention of the German newspapers that these clauses in the Occupation Statute are motivated by fear of German competition, is hardly likely to inspire confidence in the honesty and truthfulness of the United States Secretary of State.
The Occupation Statute is bad enough in itself, but there might be some hope that it will be interpreted in a liberal spirit were it not for the veto power given to each of the three Western occupation powers by the intergovernmental agreement signed in Washington on April 8, 1949, and made public on April 26. "Unanimous agreement" is required on all important questions embracing : disarmament and demilitarization including related fields of scientific research, prohibitions and restrictions on industry and civil aviation; and controls in regard to the Ruhr, restitutions, reparations, decartelizations, deconcentration, nondiscrimination in trade matters, foreign interests in Germany and claims against Germany.
No one can doubt that the vast field over which the veto power reigns will enable Britain and France to refuse any modification in the Level of Industry Plan, or any other relaxation of the controls which now prevent Germany's paying her own way and contributing her full quota to the needs of European reconstruction. The United States Secretary of State has in fact given Britain and France the right to perpetuate Germany's economic servitude, whatever the present cost to the American taxpayer, and the future cost in lives if and when war comes. The time is apparently long since past when the Senate of the United States claimed its right to sanction what are in fact treaties with foreign powers, so this "agreement" with Britain and France is likely to go unchallenged.
The Occupation Statute constitutes a grave retrogression in United States policy. For although great concessions have been made to the French point of view in drawing up the Ruhr Statute, which regularizes the colonial status of Germany's main industrial area, the United States Military Government had at least provided therein that the limitation on German steel production was to be temporary. But now the State Department has put France in a position to exercise a veto power over German and European recovery similar to that which Russia exercises in the United Nations to the detriment of the world, and likely to be used as unscrupulously.
The French have even succeeded in preventing the new German state from acquiring the right to maintain a federal police force for the detection and suppression of subversive activities. The Communists are to be allowed even greater freedom than they enjoy in France to destroy democracy from within.
As was to be expected, in view of the colonial status prescribed for them under the Occupation Statute, the German democratic parties have not been permitted to decide upon the Constitution
of the new Western German state. After the parliamentary council at Bonn had spent months drawing up a constitution, and the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SDP) had at last reached a compromise agreement on such disputed questions as the division of fiscal and economic powers between the central government and the Länder, and the balance of legislative powers between the upper and lower houses of the federal legislature. The military governors intervened to amend the constitution in favor of the CDU which favors a weak central government.
The French objections to the establishment of a viable West-German state, and their desire to permit only a loose federation of states was allowed to prevail. The United States supported France by similarly favoring the reactionary separatist forces in Bavaria and the Rhineland, as against the SDR supported by the British.
In respect to the foundation of the West-German state, the British have in fact shown far greater political intelligence than the United States and France. Under their Labour Government, their political genius and the enlightened attitude they formerly adopted towards their vanquished foes have been obscured by the frantic desire of the Labour party to become independent of America through the acquisition of dollars by any means, fair or foul. But with regard to the political future of Germany the British showed themselves to be incomparably more enlightened than the French. They went so far as to reveal to the Social Democrats that the Western powers had secretly agreed to allow somewhat greater legislative and fiscal powers to the proposed central government, should the Germans balk at the harsh terms originally presented. The British thus enabled the Social Democrats to obtain a little more power for the future government of Western Germany than would otherwise have been the case. At the time of writing it is not yet decided whether the German Social Democrats will have the courage and political wisdom to follow the lead of Kurt Schumacher and Carlo Schmidt, who have advised against collaboration with the Western conquerors in setting up a German state denied any real authority.
The weak brothers among the German democrats may give way to superior force and accept the quisling status offered them. But one thing is certain. The German politicians who accept the Occupation Statute as the basis for a "democratic" government will be regarded as puppets and traitors by the majority of their countrymen. It is therefore to be hoped that the liberal elements in
Germany will keep their reputations clean by refusing to form a West-German government under the terms of servitude offered to them by the Western occupation powers acting under French influence. If they accept, there will be little hope for democracy in Germany now or in the future.
Unfortunately for the future of democracy in Germany and Europe as a whole, the blackmailing tactics adopted by the United States may force the SDP and other German democrats to accept the terms offered them by the Western powers. For the military governors are insisting that the German leaders who refuse to set up the impotent Western state they are being urged to establish are playing into Russia's hands.
It is both tragic and short-sighted for the United States to confront the German democrats with such an inescapable dilemma : if they collaborate in setting up a West-German state without power, they are likely to lose the support of the German people who will regard them as quislings; if they refuse, they will be accused of helping the Communists.
In fact, the German democratic leaders were in a position for once to do a little blackmailing themselves. For the Western powers, having committed themselves to a four-power conference on Germany if Soviet Russia would lift the Berlin blockade, were desperately anxious to reach an agreement with the German democratic parties in time to set up a West-German state before Stalin offered to lift the blockade.
But, to judge from their past history, the German democratic politicians are unlikely to take advantage of their opportunity to force real concessions from the Western powers. They are more likely to pursue their straightforward course and let their conquerors turn the tables on them. On the other hand, it is possible that the pressure brought to bear on the Germans by the United States Military Government was inspired by General Clay's fears that the State Department might make a deal with Russia as well as with France to prevent the formation of the Western state, unless the new German state were set up before the secret Washington-Moscow negotiations resulted in agreement. It is more than a little suspicious that knowledge of the negotiations with Russia, initiated by Dean Acheson in February 1949, was withheld from both the Germans and the American public until April 25 when Tass reported it.
Now that negotiations with Soviet Russia are once again in
prospect, the veto power which the Western powers have reserved to themselves under the Occupation Statute, must preclude any agreement which does not permit Russia, as well as France, to sabotage all American plans for the recovery of Germany or Europe. We shall in all probability be faced with the choice of withdrawing all troops from Germany and granting the Germans full liberty at the risk of leaving them defenseless before the armed might of Soviet Russia and her German hirelings, or dishonoring our own promise to give the Western Germans a limited right to self-government.
For obviously no Four Power agreement is possible unless Russia obtains the same veto powers as America, France, and Britain; and no one can doubt that a German administration subject in all its acts to a Russian veto would be unable to govern unless it followed the Communist Party line.
It is impossible to say whether Dean Acheson, in jeopardizing all Europe and weakening America by the concessions he has made to France, was activated by the belief that the military support of France is worth the price, or by his former affiliation with the group once known as "Frankfurter's Hot Dogs," which included Algernon Hiss. Acheson's friendship with Felix Frankfurter is no secret, nor is there any doubt that Judge Frankfurter was one of the most influential sponsors of the fateful "unconditional surrender" formula and the Morgenthau Plan. Thus it seems probable that the 1949 retrogression in American policy is at least to some extent inspired by those who have no such aversion for Stalin's dictatorship as they had for Hitler's, and are still more concerned with punishing the Germans than stopping the Communists.
Dean Acheson is also supposed to have a British orientation, but the British, although as short-sighted as the French with regard to dismantlement, have thrown their weight on the side of the German Social Democrats who insist that if a Western German government is to be formed it must be allowed sufficient power to govern. So once again it would appear to be French influence, which is impelling the United States to give right of way to the Communists.
As after the first World War, so again today, France is stifling German democracy. Once again she is preventing the implementation of a policy which could win the mass of the German people to our side. Once again she is strengthening the totalitarian forces
which nearly destroyed her in the last war and are certain to defeat her next time.
As Carlo Schmidt is reported to have said in April 1949 :
Whether any of us likes it or not one thing is true in Europe today—its future depends on the workers of Germany. Russia cannot win them yet—but the West can lose them. . . . If they should ever desert the West and slide into Bolshevism, then you need no longer worry about what France's workers will do. Then you can have all the Atlantic Pacts you can write. Stalin will need no Molotov or Vishinsky, no Cominform, not a single tank. Bolshevism will be everywhere.*
At the war's end France had an opportunity that is never likely to recur, to assume the lead in Europe, not by conquest, but by acting according to the great principles of the French Revolution. But instead of uniting Europe on the basis of liberty, equality, and fraternity, France has displayed only a mean desire to appease the strong, bully the vanquished, and beg from the rich. Were she the great and intelligent nation which many Americans believe her to be, she would have been magnanimous in the hour of Germany's total defeat, and thus have ended the long and tragic epic of aggression and counteraggression by bringing victor and vanquished alike into a free federated Europe. Instead, she has taken the lead in perpetuating old feuds, dividing Europe, and preparing the way for Communist conquest. So long as France influences American policy, there can be little hope for peace, security, or prosperity in Europe, or an end to the subsidies which Americans are supplying to the Old World.
Back to table of contents
To the next chapter
To the previous chapter
Back to archive