The reporting of news from Germany has been inadequate ever since her surrender. It is so colored by anti-German prejudice and ignorance that the American public, even today, is uninformed about the facts and unaware of the consequences of our German policy. So in appealing for justice and compassion for the vanquished and endeavoring to show the American people the moral and material price they are paying for revenge, I know that I am not only laying myself open to the charge of being pro-German. I am also likely to be told that the picture is no longer so dark as the one I have painted. For the American press as a whole has concentrated during the past year on reporting only the high lights of economic recovery and has ignored the basic problems which palliatives such as currency reform and Marshall aid cannot solve.
To those who accuse me of being pro-German I cannot do better than cite the words of Tom Paine, who said : "Where liberty is not, there is my country." Since the Germans have been deprived by their conquerors of freedom and elementary human rights and reduced to the status of colonials ruled by four sets of masters, it seems to me to be the function of men and women of good will and liberal sentiment to espouse their cause.
Some of my readers may think that I have given undue weight to the German point of view. If this is true, my contribution constitutes only a drop in the ocean compared to the continuous, and somewhat monotonous, spate of books, articles, newspaper reports, and radio comment which have by now established an accepted legend.
Germans are not permitted to speak for themselves except in accents of humility pleasing to their conquerors, so no one knows today what they are thinking and feeling. I do not pretend to have done more than penetrate a little below the surface of the uni-
formity and submissiveness imposed on Germany, but I have endeavored to "speak for the silent."
I shall also, no doubt, be accused in some quarters, of partiality because I have not given space to the record of Nazi crimes. This omission is not due to my failure to recognize Hitler's responsibility for the material and moral wreckage in Europe, and the decline of Western civilization. The reason why I have not repeated the oft-told tale of Nazi crimes against humanity is that it is already familiar to every American. It is our own record which is not known, and it seems high time that the victors began to search their own consciences.
The roles of oppressors and oppressed change with the times.
Yesterday's arrogant victor is today's vanquished, and those who fought for liberty now deprive others of freedom. It seems as true today as when Thucydides wrote his history of the Peloponnesian War that "right as the world goes is only a question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."
Evil begets evil and injustice breeds more injustice. Revenge creates an overwhelming desire for counterrevenge; nations deprived of liberty become pathologically nationalist. If "Europe's interminable wars," which now threaten to destroy Western civilization are ever to end, and Communism with its creed of hatred is not to overwhelm us, the cycle must be broken. We must finally abjure the belief that two wrongs make a right.
I should not wish, however, to do the least injustice to the good intentions and considerable achievements of the United States Military Government. The United States Army is, I think, least to blame for the shortcomings, errors, injustices, and failures dealt with in this book. In spite of the orders they originally received from Washington to do nothing to rehabilitate Germany, the Army authorities averted a complete collapse at the beginning of the occupation. Public utilities were put back into operation, the streets were cleared of rubble, some industries were helped to start working again, and mass starvation and epidemics were averted by the use of Army funds to import food and alleviate acute distress. In general, it can be said that the Military Government, soon after it took over the administration of the ruined, hungry, and morally shattered land it occupied, pursued as enlightened a policy as was possible within the limits set by the executive authorities in Washington.
The United States Military Government under General Clay has had a clearer perception of the Communist danger than the Administration. Every Army officer concerned with the security of the United States and aware of the extent of the obligations we have undertaken in Europe, is aware of the fact that unless the German people are included in the North Atlantic Pact and armed for their own defense and that of Europe, Soviet Russia will be able to sweep us and our Western allies at least as far as the Pyrenees. But no one dares to say in public that unless Germany becomes our full-fledged ally, America must either abandon Europe to Communism as soon as Stalin has prepared his subjects for war, or be prepared to sacrifice so many American lives to defend it that the losses of World War II will appear insignificant.
Although born English, I have chosen to be an American because in America I have found more equality and social justice, less nationalist prejudice, and more regard for the rights and claims of other peoples than anywhere else in the world. The tragedy is that all the good will of the American people, their generosity and sincere desire to extend the benefits of their civilization to less fortunate nations, are to a large extent nullified by their lack of knowledge of past history and present realities in Europe.
America's ignorance of Germany is a dangerous thing. One can recall the fact that when the Allied armies entered Germany, the OWI and other war agencies claiming to have expert knowledge of German sentiment predicted that a Nazi sniper would be found behind every bush, and in every attic and cellar, and that there were bands of "werewolves" ready to murder our occupation forces. Events proved instead that millions of Germans were prepared to greet us as liberators, but were rebuffed, and that there were too few convinced Nazis left in Germany to cause any serious difficulties to our occupation forces.
The tragedy was that we refused to collaborate with the Germans who had braved the Nazi horror and would have been capable of reorientating Germany. Instead, we revived the Nazi ideology by refusing to separate the sheep from the goats when we took over the administration of our part of the shattered Third Reich. The same ignorance today of the real sentiments of the German people is leading us to ignore the danger of Germany's throwing in her lot with Soviet Russia, not because the German people have an inborn aversion to democracy, but because many of them no longer have any hope that the West will accord them either freedom, or the
right to work, or the possibility of defending themselves against Soviet Russia.
Having been convinced by war propaganda that the Germans are innately more aggressive and cruel than other peoples, most Americans are unable to realize that the punishment of the German people only serves to strengthen the Soviet aggressors.
The most important influence in America furthering Communist aims would seem to be the refusal of the New Dealers to admit that President Roosevelt's policies were fundamentally mistaken. They must continue to believe that the German people are the fount of all iniquity, and a continuing menace to the peace of the world, if they are to preserve their veneration for the late President. Most of them lack the courage to admit that their revered leader was mistaken in believing that all that was necessary for the establishment of lasting peace was the crushing out of existence of the German nation, and that this aim justified close collaboration with Stalin. Some New Dealers, or so-called progressives, like Wallace even today turn the same blind eye on Soviet "crimes against humanity," as Roosevelt and his wife during the war. Others, who are too intelligent or decent to ignore the evidence, nevertheless persist in demanding that the full pound of flesh be exacted from defeated Germany. They all lack the moral courage to admit that President Roosevelt's policies were fundamentally wrong and have proved a colossal failure. To sustain their faith in their dead leader they continue to demand the implementation of his German policy, long after the assumptions on which it was based have been proven false. They want Germany to be kept impotent even at the cost of rendering Europe incapable of self-defense. They are prepared to run the risk of driving the Germans to side with Russia by denying them freedom and equality and the possibility of earning their living so long as they remain on our side of the Iron Curtain.
The Republicans, having subscribed to a bipartisan foreign policy, are similarly held the prisoners of past errors. They too cannot face the political consequences of admitting they were mistaken. With rare exceptions the Republicans have followed the Democratic lead in throwing good money after bad rather than cut losses and start on a fresh and enlightened foreign policy. They too must be held guilty for the failure of the United States to make a clean break with the past.
Nor is it easy for the American people as a whole to accept the
sad truth that for the second time in a quarter of a century they have sacrificed their sons and husbands in foreign wars to no good purpose. Far from "making the world safe for democracy," both wars have diminished the area of freedom, and the last one has merely substituted one totalitarian dictatorship for another. But it is difficult for those who have lost their loved ones to admit that they died in vain.
The reluctance of the human mind to face unpalatable truths, the inability of politicians to admit their mistakes, the aftermath of war propaganda, and the sinful pride which inspires us all, play into the hands of the Communists.
It is conducive to spiritual satisfaction and self-respect to view past or present enemies as the only transgressors against the laws of God and man. To admit that the capacity for evil is inherent in all mankind would destroy our sense of superiority. So we have gone far toward the adoption of the Nazi theory of "racial" differences, and have ourselves assumed the position of a superior or master race.
Worst of all we have been seduced by the Nazi-Communist theory that justice means the collective punishment of the many for the sins of a few.
In the second century A.D. Emperor Trajan enunciated the principle that it is better for many guilty persons to escape punishment than for one innocent person to be wrongly condemned. The Communists have reversed this principle. They say that it is better for a thousand innocent people to be condemned than for one guilty person to escape.
In our treatment of the Germans we have adopted the Communists' principle instead of that of the civilized Western world.
Those who indict the whole German nation for the crimes of the Nazis put themselves in the same category as the Bolsheviks, who murdered millions of people for the "crime" of belonging to "the capitalist class" (in which the Communists included the more prosperous peasants called "kulaks"); and of the Nazis who exterminated millions of Jews and other "inferior" races such as the Poles and Russians.
By treating all Germans as criminals or pariahs, and punishing them all by our policies, we deny the very essence both of Christian civilization and of rational liberalism : belief in individual responsibility; the rule of law, not of men; and the equality of all peoples irrespective of class, race, nation, or creed.
As I complete the writing of this book, the battle for Berlin is ending and the struggle for Germany is beginning. If, as seems probable, the Communists have learned that they cannot win Germany by force and terror and are preparing to reverse their tactics, we shall no longer be able to count upon Stalin's cruelties and blunders to keep the Germans on our side. There is a limit to endurance and sanity when there is no hope. If democracy continues to offer not bread but a stone, the German people will be driven once again to repudiate Western civilization. If Soviet Russia offers the freedom and unity which the West cannot, or will not, give them, the Germans may combine with Russia to destroy us together with themselves.
The West could easily have won the hearts and minds of the German people at the beginning of the occupation by offering them liberty, a rule of law, hope, and protection from the renewal of totalitarian tyranny imposed by Russia. We chose instead to make a mockery of democracy, not only by punishing all Germans for the sins of the Nazis, but also by our equation of communism with democracy until Soviet Russia started to menace us. We condoned every atrocity formerly committed by Hitler when it was committed by Stalin, and demonstrated our readiness to get along with the Soviet dictator even after it became evident that he had taken Hitler's place as the scourge of Europe.
The Germans have observed that every concession we have made to their demand to be allowed to work and eat and govern themselves has been made only as the result of our growing awareness of the menace which Communism constitutes to our own freedom. They consider our rule as a lesser evil than that of Communist Russia, but few of them any longer believe that we will ever allow them the same liberties and rights as we claim for ourselves.
Most Germans have no illusions about Communism. But many of them will never forget the brutal and unjust treatment they received at our hands before we realized that Soviet Russia is our enemy as well as theirs. Whether they were democrats emerging from long years of hiding or released from concentration camps; or young men and women who had obeyed Hitler from a mistaken, but sincere, conviction that no patriot could fail to follow his leader; or workers driven desperate by long years of unemployment which had rendered them incapable of resisting the demagogic propaganda of the Nazis; or the defeated men of the German army
who bore little or no responsibility for Nazi atrocities, but had fought bravely to save their country from the Communist terror only to find themselves branded as criminals by their Western conquerors and kept as slave laborers in France and England as well as in Russia, none of them have cause to "love democracy."
The legacy of the past now constitutes an acute danger. If Stalin should propose that all the victors withdraw their forces from Germany and allow her to become united and free of control by Military Government, he may yet win the battle for Germany. The fact that the Red Army is close enough to impose Russia's will at any moment, and the existence of a well-armed "police force" in the Eastern zone under Communist control, would make such freedom fictitious. But the temptation will be great so long as we continue to forbid the Germans to produce to the limit of their capacity, and deny them the right to export their manufactures on equal terms with the British and French, while also insisting on Western Germany's unilateral disarmament. Moreover, thanks to our foolish agreements at Yalta and Potsdam, and our short-sighted strategy, only Soviet Russia can restore her lost territories to Germany, give her unity, and open up the markets of Eastern Europe which are essential to the German economy. If we continue to control Germany's foreign trade in the interests of her British and French competitors, sooner or later the Germans will be driven by economic compulsions to make a deal with the Soviet Union.
Stalin can also rest assured that France will continue to play into his hands. He can now safely make his gesture to obtain German good will, secure in the knowledge that the West will reject his proposal to set Germany free and that we will take upon ourselves the onus of continuing to occupy her.
The only peace which can endure and is worth the sacrifices of war is one founded on justice. Unless we recognize our own transgressions against law and humanity, and seek to implement the principles for which Americans have gone to war twice in a generation, there can be no hope for the salvation of Western civilization. All the atom bombs we can manufacture will not save us if we lose our self-respect and the trust and esteem of the peoples of the world, including the conquered and powerless.
Most Americans, being still isolationist at heart, have felt that one of the rewards of victory was freedom to dismiss the whole
subject of Germany from their minds. Thus they gave right of way to the minority of fanatics, professional anti-Germans, and Communist sympathizers, who led the chorus of hatred in the years of tension and passion engendered by war, and have been successful in perpetuating their influence by smearing all dissidents. This harmful minority has succeeded in widening the abyss which separates us from the nation for whose fate we made ourselves responsible by the demand for unconditional surrender.
Only very recently has the American public become aware of the fact that total victory burdens the United States for good or ill with total responsibility, not only for the fate of the German people but for the destiny of Europe. The terrible responsibility they had unknowingly assumed was realized only after Soviet aggression and intransigeance and Stalin's openly declared hostility toward the United States had awakened the Americans from the pipe dream induced by Administration propaganda and the ignorant or servile journalists who spread the same lies. The mirage of a United Nations organization in which the lion and the lamb were to lie down together and the victor nations were to remain friends forever is now dispelled. But the poison instilled into the veins of the American people by the apostles of hatred and vengeance still distorts their vision and prevents them from adopting the totally new policy which alone can ensure that the world shall not succumb to Stalin in spite of President Roosevelt's errors of judgment and sacrifices of principle.
The task which the United States undertook in Germany, that of persuading a brave people with old traditions and a high level of culture, to adopt the democratic faith and institutions of their Western conquerors, was perhaps in any case an impossible one. It required tact, understanding, and sympathy, and was certainly incompatible with the behavior prescribed for the occupying forces. Obviously we could not both "teach democracy" to the Germans and ourselves behave as conquerors or as a "master race." We could only succeed by following the high principles of the American tradition, but these, together with the Atlantic Charter, were in fact repudiated in our dealings with the German people. And even though we have since turned over a new leaf, begun to restore the German economy, and given the German people some hope of eventually being admitted as equals into a European federation, our policy still lacks the warmth and humanity which are necessary to overcome the memory of past injury and bitterness on both
sides. Fruitful cooperation between peoples is impossible without trust, fair dealing, and equality, and these require a complete change in our approach to Germany.
The political and military consequences of vengeance may prove disastrous to the Western world. Europe cannot be defended militarily, or "made safe for democracy" politically, unless Germany is brought into the community of free nations as an equal partner.
I am convinced that not only the dictates of reason, common sense, and self-interest, but also the call of conscience and belief in a justice which transcends national boundaries, will impel a radical change in United States policy once the American people are made aware of the facts which have for so long been withheld from them.
Following typos in the original were surpressed in this electronic edition:
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