If the United States Administration had been dominated by Communists it could hardly have done a better job in preparing the way for Communist rule in Germany, than the Military Government during the first two years of the occupation. The denazification law was used to expropriate the capitalists, pauperize the middle classes, and bring democratic justice into contempt; Communists were appointed to leading administrative positions and put in control of newspapers and radio stations; and Germany was confined in an economic strait-jacket which precluded the revival of free enterprise and created the chaos, misery, and despair, calculated to drive the Germans into the Communist camp.
The Nuremberg and Dachau trials directly affected only a small number of people, but the principles enunciated there, combined with the directives given to the Military Government by Washington in JCS 1067/6, deprived the majority of Germans in the United States zone of liberty, property, and other civil rights.
JCS 1067/6 suspends habeas corpus indefinitely, and told the Military Government it had authority to arrest and hold in prison without trial anyone who might endanger Allied objectives, including, of course, those of Soviet Russia.
It also instructed the United States Army authorities to dismiss both from public office and from positions of importance in private enterprise, not only Nazis but "all other persons hostile to Allied purposes." If this instruction had been applied in its full rigor, it would have allowed practically no Germans, except the Communists, to hold administrative or executive positions, since few other Germans could have been expected at that time not to be hostile to Allied policy.
The "Law of Liberation from National Socialism," as the denazification decree was humorously, or cynically, named, affected some twelve million people out of the total seventeen million in the United States zone. For it penalized not only all members of the Nazi party, but also their families, and members of affiliated organizations. It was based on JCS 1067/6 which instructed the United States Army authorities to arrest, among others, all persons holding "important" positions in the national and local civil and economic administration down to and including village mayors, and in "industry, commerce, agriculture and finance."
"It may generally be assumed," said the Washington directive, "that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, any persons holding such positions are Nazis or Nazi sympathizers."
Thus in effect the United States adopted the Communist theory that capitalists were ipso facto National Socialists, and as late as the fall of 1947 the United States Military Government was still holding in prison without trial men whose only crime was that of having been the owners of industrial enterprises or executives of large corporations.
So great was the influence of the Communists in Washington at this time, and so closely did the United States follow Moscow's class-war directives, that the United States Commander in Germany was also ordered to "take under his control all property, real and personal, owned or controlled . . . by all persons subject to arrest."
Since several years were required to process the tremendous number of people affected by the denazification law, this meant that the property of the accused and their families was confiscated for an indefinite period whether they were guilty or not.
In Bavaria the United States Military Government went so far as to appoint a known Communist as Minister of Denazification. Many Spruchkammer (denazification boards) were dominated by the Communists who utilized their position to get rid of their political opponents. For the terrible thing about denazification in the United States zone was that if anyone denounced you as a Nazi you had your job and your money taken from you until you could prove your innocence. Many people were kept waiting in prison, or "free" but deprived of the right to earn a living, for years before they so much as had an opportunity to prove their innocence.
Since anti-Communist and Nazi were synonymous terms in the Communist vocabulary, many non-Nazis and even anti-Nazis were
deprived of their jobs, or penalized in other ways by the Communist-dominated denazification boards. For instance, I was told by the students at the University of Munich that Professor Adolf Weber, who is one of Germany's best economists and never a Nazi, was persecuted and prevented from teaching for a long time by the denazification authorities because he is anti-Communist.
Of course it was not only the Communists who took advantage of the unlimited right given by the United States to anyone to ruin innocent men by denouncing them without evidence. Anyone who had a grudge against someone else for personal as well as political reasons could cause his enemy injury by informing against him without proving the charge. Even if the victim of the denunciation was eventually able to prove his innocence, he would have suffered loss of his job, sequestration of his property, and a long period of mental anguish. This was the inevitable consequence of America's destruction of the foundation of democratic justice by decreeing that in Germany innocence, not guilt, had to be proved.
Another case worth citing which was brought to my attention by the students at Munich was that of Professor Voerlzer, a well known architect who had been driven into exile in Turkey by the Nazis in 1933. In 1946 while holding the position of Rector of the Munich Technical College and Chairman of the Commission for Reconstruction, he was accused by an obscure architect of having spied for Turkey during the war. He was thrown out of his job and subjected to all sorts of restrictions and indignities for a whole year. During this period reconstruction in Munich was at a standstill.
The Nazis as well as the Communists were able to use the denazification law to get rid of their enemies. In fact, the Communists and the Nazis had a joint interest in utilizing the denazification law to penalize everyone of liberal or conservative tendencies.
After denazification was abandoned in the Russian zone in favor of the present Soviet policy of courting the Nazis and encouraging them to join the Communist Party, the Communists in the Western zones withdrew from the Spruchkammer, and held large meetings for the "little Nazis" to tell them how badly treated they were by the United States authorities.
The turnabout of the Communists left few Germans interested in implementing the denazification law which had not only identified Nazism with opposition to Communism, but had placed a premium on dishonesty and was regarded by most Germans as merely a method of exterminating the German professional classes,
"capitalists," and qualified administrative and technical personnel.
Meanwhile the United States Military Government had been forced to admit that it had bitten off more than it could chew by attempting to process some twelve million people. It had also begun to realize not only that a democratic Germany could never be established under its original directives, but also that no kind of a viable economy could be re-established in Germany if no one who had ever been a Nazi was allowed to work except as a laborer. The fact that the Nazi regime had insisted that administrators, technicians in important positions, and executives of industrial and business enterprises must join the Nazi party in order to retain their jobs, made it impossible for the German economy to function so long as all former Nazis were debarred from working except as "hewers of wood and drawers of water."
Unable or unwilling to admit the absurdity and futility of the original denazification law, the United States Military Government tried to escape from its predicament by proclaiming a series of amnesties. First there was a "youth and poverty" amnesty; next a disability amnesty which wrote off veterans and others fifty per cent disabled. A distinction was further drawn between those who had joined the Nazi party in 1933 or before when its character was unclear, all of whom were held guilty, and those who had joined it later who were held to be less culpable.
Finding that in spite of all its efforts to escape from the predicament into which its original directives had landed it, it was still stuck with three million seven hundred thousand unprocessed "Nazi criminals," the Military Government wrote off a million and a half of them as only "nominal" Nazis. It also released most of the men and women who had been kept for years in prison without trial, and allowed many others who had been tried but had appealed their sentences to go home.* Wishing to wash its hands of the whole silly business, the Military Government finally declared that denazification was a German concern. Its pressures were subsequently exerted under cover, being used to ensure the institution of denazification proceedings against those who were acquitted at Nuremberg in spite of the efforts of the prosecution, and against
those witnesses who had refused to testify as the prosecution required.
Since the Military Government had started out with the idea that the "little guys" should be tried first, the net result of America's attempt to process nearly half the population and then giving up the whole project is that the minor offenders who were tried in the first years of the occupation received very stiff sentences, while many major offenders have escaped with light sentences or have been acquitted because their cases were tried recently by local German courts. Thus those least responsible for Hitler's crimes have lost everything, while the major offenders and offenders (Groups 1 and 2) who were not tried until later, have recently been "denazified" after the payment of a small fine. It became a matter of luck how a former Nazi was classified and what penalties were inflicted. Where those who believe the German name can be cleansed by inflicting stiff sentences are in charge of denazification, former Nazis receive maximum sentences. Elsewhere they have escaped with nothing more than a small fine, or are put in Group 5 and let off. Moreover, a man's fate has largely depended on his influence as well as the locale in which he is tried.
Whereas many Gauleiters, Gestapo chiefs and other leading Nazis have either been exonerated or classified as minor offenders, and are now at liberty, I found a miserable collection of former industrial workers, craftsmen, peasants and minor party functionaries in the Langwasser prison near Nuremberg, which I visited in November 1948. Here were the last remaining Nazis in Bavaria still held in prison while awaiting trial, and those already condemned but not permitted like others to go home while awaiting the result of their appeals.
Out of a total of 240 men interned at Langwasser 70 were manual workers, fifteen farmers or peasants. 40 minor civil servants, and 35 intellectuals. The prisoners included 41 people who were not even party members and three former inmates of Nazi concentration camps. The majority of them had been in prison without trial for years; many were old and sick. They were for the most part a pitiful collection of forgotten men who had no money and no influence and had lost all hope. The exceptions were such former important figures as von Papen, shoved into prison by the Bavarian denazification authorities after his acquittal by the International Military Tribunal, although he is not a Bavarian; and Fritzsche, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, who had been condemned to nine years
imprisonment by a denazification court also after having been acquitted by the I.M.T.
I was taken to Langwasser prison at my request by Camile Sachs, who is chief of denazification in Bavaria, presumably because he is half Jewish, since he seemed to have no qualifications for the job. He had not himself suffered imprisonment under the Nazis and he insisted passionately that it was a German concern to punish all Nazis. Sachs was certainly an improvement over his predecessor Lorenz, who as Minister of Denazification had condemned hundreds of thousands of people to prison but had now been arrested himself as a common criminal. Lorenz, I was told by American correspondents, was a sinister type and a potential new Hitler, but no one knew whether he had been subsidized by the French or the Russians.
The trouble with Sachs seemed to be his subservience to the Military Government. His son was employed in the "Special Projects Division" attached to the Prosecutor's Office, and there was thus perfect coordination between the Nuremberg prosecution and the Bavarian denazification authorities. The latter have pounced upon witnesses and such of the accused as the prosecutor failed to convict and sent them to German prisons in place of Military Government ones. In Germany under United States rule the legal principle that you cannot be tried twice for the same crime has been jettisoned like so many others.
Camile Sachs' thick Bavarian accent and voluble inconsequential meanderings made it very difficult for me to understand him, so the prisoner, Fritzsche, former Propaganda Minister of the Third Reich, translated what he said into good German, or what Sachs called Prussian German, so that I could understand.
Fritzsche had come to Sachs' office to plead for a re-examination of the cases of the minor offenders in the camp, because as he stated to me frankly, if the little people were not released, he had no hope of ever getting out of prison himself. It struck me, however, that the indifference of German and other democrats to the fate of the workers who had got themselves in prison merely because they had believed Nazi propaganda or despaired of democracy, was enabling former Nazis to retain or regain the confidence of the German "common man."
Fritzsche, very tall and straight, polite but not subservient in his manner in talking to Sachs, inspired the respect which courage evokes whatever a man's antecedents and views may be. He was
thin to the point of emaciation but he had not been broken by his ordeal at the hands of the Russians, who had put him in the Lubianka prison in Moscow after he surrendered Berlin to them and interrogated him day and night; nor by his long incarceration at Nuremberg where the prisoners had been kept under brilliant lights day and night, watched every moment, forced to sleep with their arms outside the covers, and never given enough to eat.
He also had a sufficiently good sense of humor to laugh when I said I thought the propaganda ministers of all nations ought to be incarcerated.
Sachs said he was no Gestapo man and told Fritzsche to show me around the prison, which consisted of wooden huts in a large compound. The greater part of this huge camp was empty. It seemed to me a great pity that the German expellees from the Eastern territories could not occupy it, since the huts afforded better accommodations than that afforded to the victims of Yalta and Potsdam. It was a commentary on the postwar world that the imprisoned Nazis held guilty of Hitler's war crimes were living in considerably better conditions than the victims of our war crimes, whom I had visited at Dachau and other places. Not that the Langwasser prison could compare to the prisons of the United States in which common criminals are confined. The huts are draughty and cold and the food as inadequate but not more so than that of the German workers. But the prisoners at Langwasser at least had elbow room, unlike the German expellees from the Eastern territories who are crowded fifty to a room.
I talked to von Papen in the hospital wing of the prison for an hour, during which he told me how close Germany and France had been in 1932 to an accord which would have prevented the Nazis from coming to power. Afterwards I talked to other prisoners. Of these conversations I remembered best the one I had with a former factory worker who had been a social democrat before 1933. When I asked him why he had become a Nazi, he said : "It was the first time in my life I ever had security. No one could fire me."
Almost bald, short, emaciated and grey faced, a bewildered "common man" who had never understood what it was all about, this man now sits in jail for an indefinite period.
On our way through the camp we met a group of prisoners waiting at the locked gate to attend the funeral of a man who had hung himself the night before. The poor devil had been rearrested after having been released from several years in prison, because the
Yugoslavs claimed him. He had been torn away from his wife and three young children whom he had had to leave without anyone to provide for them, just when he had begun to hope he could earn a living again. Expecting death at the hands of the Communists, or life-long slave labor, he had committed suicide.
Denazification is today nearing its end, but it has left enduring bitterness and distrust of democratic justice. To punish men for their opinions or political affiliations, not for actual crimes, is bad enough. It is even worse to have let the "big shots" who were the pillars of the Third Reich go unpunished because they have influence, are useful to the Military Government, or pretend they never were Nazis, and to punish thousands of small fry because they were tried too soon, or were too honest to deny their beliefs, refused to be subservient to their conquerors, or had no power to move their judges.
Fritz Hentzler, the Socialist Bürgermeister of Dortmund, who has been a lifelong anti-Nazi, said that denazification was a fundamentally unjust proceeding, and one of the "most appalling things ever done." As he pointed out, one of the essentials of a democratic state is the independence, impartiality, and legal experience of those who administer justice. The man in the street lacks the qualifications to be a judge, and to use him as such on a denazification panel was to imitate the "peoples democratic justice" of the Communists.
According to Fritz Hentzler, the British denazification proceedings were worse than the American. Anyone useful to the British, he said, was tolerated, and a premium put on treachery, as for instance when Diehl (who was the first chief of Goering's Prussian Gestapo and was succeeded by Himmler who formed the Reich Gestapo) was put in Category 5 (exonerated) because at the end he had betrayed the Nazis, as he had formerly betrayed the last Weimar Republic Minister of the Interior for Prussia under whom he had served before Hitler came to power.
In the British zone, Hentzler said, the hearings of denazification boards were not open to the public and the defendants were not even heard. Former Nazis who had "good connections" or were in a position to supply black-market goods, could obtain "certificates of exoneration" to send into the courts. There was at first no Public Prosecutor to call witnesses and ensure the condemnation of the guilty, nor any court to which those sentenced on account of their lack of influence could appeal.
According to other accounts the British denazification proceedings were far more equitable than the American. They picked only such Nazis as would have been tried in a criminal court under pre-Hitler German or Anglo-Saxon law. That is to say, they tried people only for the crimes they had committed, not for their opinions or for membership in the party. So they prosecuted only twenty-five thousand people and released many of them. But Fritz Hentzler was probably right in thinking that some prominent Nazis were released because they would be useful to the British.
The French, like the Russians, regarded ex-Nazis as their most reliable aides since such Germans were completely dependent on their mercy, and to a much smaller degree this may have been true of the British. The point is, of course, that the whole denazification process put a premium on dishonesty, subservience, and treachery and condemned honest men while releasing timeservers, cowards, and clever men who could camouflage their real sentiments and prepare for the day when they could take vengeance on their conquerors by serving them now.
There was no doubt a good deal of truth in the description of denazification given me by Löwenthal, the German-born Frankfurt correspondent of Reuters News Agency.
"In the British zone," he said. "denazification was carried out by the Nazis, and in the United States zone by the Communists."
The Communist Schmidt already referred to was removed from his post "for incompetence" nine months after he took office. But this did not change the fact that the totalitarian concepts of the Communists were the basis of the United States zone denazification law. This law, as German jurists have pointed out, was based on the same principles as Nazi and Communist law. It punished men for their opinions without need to prove any guilty action; it penalized their families; it violated the principle of judicial independence by giving the Denazification Minister the right to re-examine and quash every judgment : it kept men in prison for years without trial and it continued to penalize them after they had been tried and "denazified."
A German attorney, Dr. Otto Gritschneder, in a pamphlet called Dead End Denazification demonstrates in detail the Nazi characteristics of the denazification law. He writes :
The law of Liberation by Article 61, combined with Military Government Law No. 52, produces effects which are in full harmony with
the Himmler principle, so rightly opposed, of 'liability of kinship.' Not only the respondents' property is blocked, but also that of his wife. It is of no use for the wife to have been officially notified, long ago, that she is "not affected" by the law; nor is it of any avail to her if she was one of the political persecutees of the Third Reich. Together with her children she shares the fate of her husband, in spite of her own clean political record. In addition to undeniable psychic injury, she takes upon herself all the material injuries as well. Not even in the Third Reich was it customary to ban the wife of a political prisoner from her lodgings. Nor was it usual to seize the property of a non-Jewish wife married to a Jew.
The various amnesties proclaimed by the United States Military Government, far from rectifying the abuses of the denazification law, showed up its arbitrary character, and its unjust foundations. It showed no equity to amnesty people on account either of their age or their incomes. In the case of the youth amnesty it was absurd to say that a man who joined the Nazi party at the age of eighteen in 1933 when its aims were unclear, is guilty; whereas a younger man who joined the party in 1942 is innocent.
The poverty amnesty was similarly inequitable, unless one accepts the Communist view that a capitalist, or man of property, and a Nazi are the same thing.
To make an amnesty dependent on either age or fortune is to deny the principle of equality before the law which is the very basis of democratic justice. Thus, both in its application and exemptions the so-called Law of Liberation from National Socialism denied the very basis of liberty, and brought all democratic law into contempt. Politically, as well as morally, the law has been disastrous, since who will disclose his real convictions if tomorrow he may be persecuted once again for his opinions—either by the Communists or the Western democracies?
To quote a German liberal woman writer, Dr. Maria Fritzle of Stuttgart :
A man is never more sensitive than in his feelings for law. . . . if he has to suffer discrimination under the law, which he does not deserve, then abhorrence and internal resistance will arise which gnaw at his mind and make him unfit for reconstruction. We should always bear in mind that Hitler in the years after 1930, could boast so great an afflux, and of decent Germans too, because he fought against the articles of the Versailles Treaty which burdened Germany with the guilt of having started the war. This article violated the German feeling for
law because it established a collective guilt of all the Germans and based the demand for reparations upon that guilt. We do not serve peace but work against it if we violate the sound feelings for law of our countrymen by imposing upon them reparations for things which are not a crime in themselves. . . . Numerous young people deny the state and politics their service, although they could give valuable help to democracy. The fear of the questionnaire of the future kills the honest battle of opinions at the present time.
Dr. Ludwig Hagenauer, the Socialist Minister for Denazification in Bavaria who succeeded the Communist Schmidt, pointed out the harmful political consequences of the Denazification Law in 1947, when he said that the incrimination of hundreds of thousands of persons for formal reasons had pressed many who were formerly averse to National Socialism "into a sympathetic community with the confirmed National Socialists, due to the common and equal treatment of both." As Dr. Gritschneder wrote : "Instead of purging the German people by punishing the Nazi criminals, National Socialism is being immortalized by the Denazification laws."
Finally, it is worth quoting the statement made by Eugene Kogon who himself spent years in Hitler's concentration camps :
It is not a crime to have erred politically. . . . A political error . . . is not a matter which should be brought before a court. To err is human . . . we have a right to err, if we do not want to be either slaves, marionettes or gods. . . .
The manner in which attempts have been made for two years now to make the German people free of National Socialism and militarism has contributed a great deal to the chaotic state in which we find ourselves today. Everybody with inside information knows that the result is less denazification than renazification. The following bad saying is repeated from mouth to mouth :—
"Since the democratic sun shines above us, we are getting browner every day."*
Before one gets brown one gets red. There is little doubt that it was the influence of the Communists, and of those Americans who have knowingly or in ignorance adopted their theories, which led to the denial of fundamental American political and legal principles in occupied Germany. Not only did Americans sit with the representatives of Soviet tyranny on the International Military Tri-
bunal at Nuremberg, thereby bringing the whole proceedings into disrepute, the United States Military Government put Communists and "totalitarian liberals" in a position to discredit democracy and pave the way for a Communist conquest of Germany from within.
The appointment of a German Communist as Minister of Denazification in Bavaria in 1945 was only one among many examples of the Military Government's partiality for the Communists, and acceptance of their definition of democracy during the first years of the occupation. The general use made of Communists to "teach democracy" to the Germans was in fact the outstanding un-American activity which helped discredit democracy in German eyes and made it indistinguishable from Nazi totalitarian rule.
The former political intelligence officer (PIO) in Bavaria for the United States Military Government in its relations with the Germans was a certain Martin, a former DP of Austrian origin and a full-fledged member of the Communist Party, who was refused a visa to the United States. Nevertheless, he continued to represent the United States Military Government as a PIO charged with supplying information to DENA and other German news media. Mr. Martin was also sent by the Military Government on a tour to exhibit the documentary film "People's Court," which recorded the trial of the German resistance leaders who had tried to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944.
General Telford Taylor, who sent Mr. Martin on this tour, apparently imagined that the film would demonstrate to the Germans how fair the Nuremberg trials were, in contrast to the horrible treatment meted out to the anti-Hitler conspirators. Taylor was, it seemed, too obtuse to realize the effect of sending a Communist to show the film in Germany and comment on it. Of course, the reaction of the Germans to the movie was to say, "What fine brave fellows those German aristocrats were, and how terrible it is to be ruled now by Communist sympathizers under the American flag."
This same Mr. Martin was held responsible for the continued operation, after the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia, of the Czech short-wave radio station in the former press camp at Stein Castle near Nuremberg. So while thousands of Czechs were seeking to flee the Communist terror, a radio station in American occupied territory was still permitted to broadcast Czech-Communist propaganda!
Thus the communist Martin, in American uniform with Ameri-
can transport and communications at his disposal, was enabled to perform yeoman service for Stalin under the protection of General Telford Taylor, who used him to instruct the German press concerning what they should and should not say.
As Peter Blake, a former United States political intelligence officer in Frankfurt demonstrated in an article published in Politics in the summer of 1948, it was not the failure of the "army mind," but that of the "liberal mind" which made the American zone of Germany "ripe for Stalinism."
Mr. Blake's article shows in detail what a "strange collection of American 'liberals,' Stalinoids, and Russia Firsters" were assembled in the Information Control and Political Affairs Divisions of Military Government "to lend the United States Army a helping hand in re-educating the Germans."
Information Control Division (ICD), he wrote, contained such well-known Communist sympathizers or Soviet apologists as Saul K. Padover of PM, Cedric Belfrage of Hollywood who subsequently became editor of a pro-Wallace magazine (the National Guardian), and a choice selection of other former OWI employees of the same political coloring.
Mr. Cedric Belfrage, according to Peter Blake's account, appointed German Communists as the licensees of the most important newspaper in the American zone : The Frankfurter Rundschau with a circulation of 150,000. One of his appointees, Emil Carlebach, who had been in Buchenwald, was subsequently exposed as having collaborated with Hitler's SS in murdering other inmates of the concentration camp.*
Another of the men Mr. Belfrage picked to teach the Germans democracy as an editor of the Frankfurter Rundschau was Wilhelm Gerst, who later became an active organizer for the Russian Socialist Unity Party (SED).
The Information Control Division rejected the services of such proved anti-totalitarian German liberals as the former editorial staff of the pre-Hitler Frankfurter Zeitung and "kicked them around" for so long that some took off for the French zone, and started a fortnightly called Die Gegenwart which has established itself as one of the best magazines in Europe.
Dr. Joseph Dunner, who, although former Chief of Intelligence for the OWI in Europe, was neither a Communist sympathizer nor naive, wrote in the June 8, 1946 issue of the New Leader how, as an ICD official in Germany, he was approached by the German Communists who evidently expected him to do his duty by Stalin like his colleague Mr. Belfrage. Bruno Goldhammer, chief of the Bavarian Communist Party, came to Dr. Dunner and said :
I understand that you are about to organize a German newspaper in Munich. You know that in Frankfurt, where such a paper already exists, several Communists have been admitted as licensees of the paper. I have come to ask you, in the name of the Communist Party to follow the example of your colleagues in Frankfurt and to include among the licensees in Munich Communists whom my party will nominate. (Italics added.)
In another issue of the New Leader (May 25, 1946) Dr. Dunner told how the German-American News Agency, DENA, was placed under Communist control.
The Communists and their fellow travelers having established a center . . . in the Information Control Unit for Greater Hesse in June 1945, Brigadier General Robert McClure, chief of the I.C.D. assigned seven civilians of the O.W.I., two lieutenants and four enlisted men, to Bad Nauheim to lay the foundation of DENA. . . . the team was headed by Lt. Edel, a former correspondent for PM.
According to Peter Blake's account in Politics, the Information Control Division of the United States Military Government, also enlisted the help of a certain Dr. Hans Meyer, a German from Switzerland who was a leader of the Stalinist "Protective League of German Writers," who told Blake that he "thanked God for the Soviet Union."
The top licensee of DENA, as might have been expected, turned out to be Dr. Rudolf Agricola, a Communist Party member since 1933.
The Stalinist Dr. Hans Meyer was subsequently appointed Political Chief of Radio Frankfurt but eventually, according to Peter Blake :
Even I.C.D. found his (Meyer's) denunciation of Churchill and others as "war mongers" a little hard to swallow, and it even penetrated Military Government's consciousness that a Communist political commen-
tator, broadcasting three times a week over one of Western Germany's principal stations, was not the best advertisement the U.S. could produce of the democratic way of life.
So at least, early in 1948, Dr. Meyer was "permitted to resign." The Munich radio station was also placed under the direction of a Communist : Herr Bentschen.
Heute, an official American German-language magazine, was entrusted to a certain Captain Heinz Norden, who besides being fanatically anti-German was a member of several Communist-front organizations such as the American League against War and Fascism, whose vice-chairman was Earl Browder, and the American Youth Congress. Captain Norden naturally devoted a large amount of space in Heute to articles by Ilya Ehrenburg and to picturesque accounts of the happy life of the Poles and of the Germans in the Russian zone.
There have been many and important changes in the past year or two, and the "Stalinists" no longer have the power they once held in the Information and other divisions of Military Government. But the evil they did lives after them. Many Germans no longer believe in American democracy, after having for so long been forced by the United States Military Government to swallow Communist propaganda.
Germans cannot forget how during the first years of the occupation the Information Control Division forbade any criticism of Soviet Russia or its satellites in American-licensed newspapers, periodicals, and radio stations. The American ban on the publication of news unfavorable to the Soviet Union and its satellites was extended to cover such subjects as the cruel expulsions of women and children from Silesia, Russian arms manufacture in the Eastern zone of Germany, and the collaboration of former Nazis and German General Staff officers with the Red Army. Military Government directives not only protected the Soviet Union from adverse criticism but forbade knowledge of its anti-western activities to be published in German newspapers. By its positive and negative actions the representatives of the American people in Germany both discredited Western democracy and destroyed belief in our integrity.
Military Government did not confine its un-American activities to giving unlimited facilities for propaganda to the Communists. It also insisted upon the inclusion of German Communists in state
and city administrations. In its zeal to establish a "people's democracy" it insisted on "coalition governments" : forcing the Germans to include Communists in the Länder administration of Bavaria and Hesse. In Munich, for instance, as late as April 1948, the head of the Economics Office was a German woman Communist who naturally sabotaged production instead of endeavoring to increase it and improve conditions.
It was not until 1947 that the Germans were permitted to get rid of the Communists in state and local government, and as late as the summer of 1948 when I was in Berlin, Communists were still employed in the labor offices, food offices, and health administration of the boroughs of Zehlendorf, Steglitz, Schöneberg, Tempelhof and Neukölln in the Western sectors.
In Munich I asked Hermann Jordan, a particularly intelligent and politically well-informed young instructor in mathematics at the University, about Communist influence in Bavaria. His reply was a revealing commentary on the past un-American activities of the United States Military Government. He said :
"In the early days of the occupation the Communists were very influential because of the key positions they held in the Western zones, their excellent organization, and their long period of training in the Soviet Union before being appointed to their jobs by the United States Military Government. But not now. Since America withdrew its support from the Communist Party, it is no longer a political factor in the Western zones."
Jordan is half Jewish and so escaped military service but he had been elected head of the organization for securing jobs for the students of the University who nearly all have to earn their living while studying, and most of whom are veterans. Thanks to Jordan, I was invited to a big student meeting addressed by Dr. Hans Ehard, the President of Bavaria. Ehard was endeavoring to convince the students that they should not despair of democracy, now that there was hope of the formation of a Western German state, but the loudest applause his speech evoked occurred when he said :
"The mention of the word democracy, or democratic, especially before a young audience, arouses a wave of distrust in Germany today."
Ehard went on to say that this does not mean that the idea of democracy is considered fundamentally bad, or that the years of dictatorship have rendered the German people so unaccustomed to freedom that they have become "obtuse to the principles of demo-
cratic life." "The explanation is somewhat different." said Ehard. "Our doubts arise from the contradiction between democratic illusions and the reality of power relationships in the world of today."
Listening to the questions put to Dr. Ehard by the students and talking to some of them afterwards, I got a glimmer of understanding of the attitude of German youth today. Most of them stand aside from politics, having no respect for, or confidence in, any of the parties. Veterans of all the battlefields of Europe, brought up in the Nazi ideology which led Germany to disastrous defeat and now equally disillusioned with democracy, they also have no faith in communism. Several of them, however, told me that in 1945 they had inclined toward the Communists, or had believed that collaboration with them was possible and desirable. It had taken them a year or two to understand the difference between Communist theory and practice, just as they had not at the beginning understood the gulf which divides the professions of the Western Powers and their actions. Moreover, at the beginning of the occupation it was impossible to distinguish between democracy and communism, since the Americans had identified the two and put many Communists in power over the Germans in the United States zone.
When I asked if they thought that many young Germans were still Nazis at heart, Jordan replied : "The drift back to Nazi ideas is mainly the consequence of denazification."
How could it be otherwise since the only difference between "democratic" justice and totalitarian justice appeared to be the categories of people singled out for collective punishment?
The American view that the "followers" of the Nazi party are not dangerous while the former convinced believers should be punished for the rest of their lives, was both unrealistic and harmful to the democratic cause in Germany. For whereas men of integrity and intelligence could have been convinced of the error of their beliefs and converted to our way of thinking, the mob which follows success is as likely to follow Stalin today as it was ready to follow Hitler yesterday.
Many of the "little Nazis" have in fact joined the Communist Party since Germany's defeat. All that was needed, as one former Nazi said to me in Berlin, was "to take the swastika out of the Red flag." On the other hand, those Nazis who were critical of Hitler's policies, and opposed them at the risk of their lives, are precisely the type which refuses to abase itself before the power of Military
Government and plead that they never were "real Nazis." Their former doubts of Hitler's policies, instead of bringing them over to the democratic camp, give way to a conviction that after all Hitler was right since the democracies also believe that justice means only the will of the strong, and there is no hope for the weak.
Many Nazis who never committed any crimes, but are too proud to deny former convictions, and who believe that they only did their duty as German patriots, are outcasts in Germany today; while the timeservers, the liars, the self-seeking and unprincipled men who joined the Nazi party for material advantages or the advancement of their careers, are exonerated and allowed to hold office or practice their former professions under Military Government.
Our treatment of the German officer class has been no more intelligent. No former Wehrmacht officer above the rank of captain is allowed to hold a job in the state or local administrations, or in the universities and professions. No officer is allowed to receive his pension, even if he is so old that he did not fight in either of the World Wars. The widows and children of officers who died fighting for their country are deprived of their pensions by order of the United States Military Government. No victor ever treated a vanquished foe with less chivalry and humanity than the United States treats the officers of the defeated German army.
When Marshal von Leeb wrote to General Clay begging that the German States be permitted to pay small pensions to the widows and orphans of the German officers who fell fighting, General Clay did not even deign to reply himself to the old Marshal who was appealing not for himself but for the dependents of the slain. Instead, on March 18, 1947, a curt epistle signed by an American lieutenant colonel, was sent to Marshal von Leeb, which said :
"In August, 1946, the Allied Control Authority adopted Law Number 34, repealing all legislation granting privilege, or particular status to ex-military personnel or their survivors. The objectives of the above measures were to combat militarism and the prestige and position of the military classes in Germany."
Just as Stalin had condemned the children of kulaks and other capitalists to starvation, so the United States Military Government condemned the children of its slain enemies to a pauper status.
The curious thing is that the Military Government should have imagined that it would extirpate militarism in Germany by making martyrs of the families of those who had died fighting for their country.
Some of the wives and children of the fallen were able to exist on their savings until currency reform. But this measure deprived them of their last resources and reduced them to destitution together with the officers who survived the war but have been debarred from earning a living.
A letter written by the wife of an old friend to an American general who once studied in Germany and now holds a high position in the War Department, shows the plight of the German army wives whose husbands are either dead or prisoners of war in Russia.
"Unfortunately there is nothing good to report. My husband is still a Russian prisoner. As a result of the currency reform I lost the last of my money. At the Welfare office they told me that officers' families are not allowed to receive anything; that they should be exterminated. They nevertheless allowed me a little relief, although not enough to keep alive my four children, who are all still going to school. From June till October our situation was quite bad. Now I have a job as secretary to an exporting firm, so our situation is better, although it is difficult for me also to look after the children.
"We have had a lot of misfortune with sicknesses which are doubtless due to long years of poor diet. My oldest child has been at the hospital for two months, but he is to be sent to Switzerland. I am very glad on that score. When are the Russians going to release the prisoners? The war has been over four years now and still there are hundreds of thousands who have not returned home. This is very inhuman indeed.
"Please don't be angry at me for having told you my sorrows. I would like to have told you good things. Perhaps it will be possible for my husband to write to you himself next January 1 and perhaps things will be better then.
"And now I wish you and your wife much happiness for the year 1949.
The American officer who translated this letter wrote on the margin : "It is hard to read such a letter without being touched by the thought : the common tragedy, the common courage of all human-
ity, which transcends man-made national boundaries. Christian kindness, sympathy and understanding also, fortunately can transcend them :"
When in the fall of 1948 the former Wehrmacht officers of Hesse wanted to form an "Economic Association of former members of the Wehrmacht" to secure their pensions and civil rights, the United States Military Government forbade it.
Meanwhile the Russians offer good pay and special privileges to any former Wehrmacht officers who will join them against us.
As Count von Schlabrendorff (the man who almost killed Hitler) said to me in Wiesbaden, many Wehrmacht officers will have no choice but to join up with Russia, since America condemns them and their families to starvation.
Von Schlabrendorff told me what tempting offers he himself had received from the Russians when visiting Berlin—offers which he himself had rejected but which he realized were hard to resist by others who unlike himself were precluded from earning a living by the United States. Moreover, the Russian appeal is not only to self-interest, but also to German patriotism. The German officers are tempted by the prospect of "freeing Germany from the Anglo-Saxon yoke."
"It is only one step from National Socialism to Bolshevism," said von Schlabrendorff. Many German officers were anti-Nazi, although America has identified their patriotism with Nazi sympathies. Today many formerly anti-Nazi officers are moved by the Russian appeal to the old tradition of Russo-German friendship. Stalin continually reminds the Germans that in the past they were strong only when Germany and Russia were friends.
However great their dislike of Communism and their former antagonism to Nazism, German officers today remember that after Prussia had been defeated and humiliated by Napoleon, it was restored in alliance with Russia which broke the power of France. Germany's situation today is sufficiently similar for Russian propaganda to evoke a response, in spite of German fears of Communism, and the terrible situation of the Germans under Russia's heel in the Eastern zone. The fact that German officers, like former high Nazis, are much better treated by the Soviet Government than German "common men" cannot but lessen the antagonism of the former officer class to Russia.
The denial by the Western Powers to Germany of the right to defend herself, coupled with our refusal to guarantee her defense
ourselves, and the fact that only Russia can restore her lost eastern territories to Germany, all play into Russia's hands.
General Speidel, who was Rommel's chief of staff, said to me in Freudenstadt in the French zone : "If we cannot expect either justice or security under America, we shall be forced to turn toward Russia. It is not yet too late to orientate Germany toward the West, because that is where most of us want to turn; but the last hour is striking. Soon you will have made it impossible for the Germans to find their way back to the West."
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