|carried for miles on the shoulders of cheering crowds. As a high British official is reported to have ruefully admitted: “It looks like the trial is backfiring. It has made the Communists the champions of all Germans who op- pose the control given to the International Ruhr Authority over German coal, coke and steel.”*
Reimann was nevertheless sent to prison by the British court on the charge of having broken a Military Government law against “interference with persons who give aid and suste nance to the oc-
* New York Herald Tribune, January 19, 1949.
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 145
cupying powers,” that is, persons who collaborate with the con - querors. Nothing could have suited the Communists better. Their leader was now able to pose as the champion of the oppressed German nation. Anti-Communist German politicians were com- pelled to come to Reimann’s defense. Kurt Schumacher, chairman of the German Social-Democratic party, stated that if the principle of “obedience” to Military Government was applied as a protection for German politicians, it would prove helpful to the Communist cause; and Heinrich Hellwege, chairman of the right-wing Deutsche Partei, declared that Reimann’s conviction appeared to confirm the Communist charge that non-Communist German politicians were “p erformers of the will of the occupation power,” and that those who openly criticized measures of the Western Powers were subject to punishment.
Subsequently Military Government officials reported privately that they were again having trouble in getting Germans to take responsible administration positions.*
Unfortunately for the democratic cause, when some German workers at Essen were arrested by the British for their refusal to dismantle the Bochum Iron and Steel Works, or to permit its being dismantled, there was no such powerful popular support for them as the Communists had organized for their leader, Max Reimann. They were sent to jail unheralded and unsung. Nor did the Social- Democrat trade-union leaders do anything effective to prevent the use of British troops to compel the Bochum workers to give way, after the British had announced, on January 5, 1949, that “there will be sufficient British troops standing by to insure that the job will start, and that if the Bochumer Verein workers try to interfere this time, we are prepared to take counter measures.”
A year earlier, in January 1948, the Social-Democratic leaders in the British zone had been intimidated by the double threat of starvation and British tanks into preventing the general strike de- manded by the rank and file. The Ruhr workers had been literally starving that winter of 1947-48 when for a long period the daily ration had been reduced to 800-900 calories, which is less than the Nazis gave their concentration camp victims. Finally the trade union leaders had been called into a conference by the Minister of Food of North-Rhine Westphalia and told that there were only 3,000 tons of fat in the whole Ruhr area. The question was whether
* New York Times, February 4, 1949.
146 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
to divide it so as to give a four-week fat ration to the miners, on whose labors all industry depended, or to give each worker an ounce a month for two months.
The trade-union leaders had refused to decide this awful ques- tion. Then the Minister of Food, having referred the decision to the Economic Council at Frankfurt, was told that even the 3,000 tons did not exist— that in the whole of North-Rhine Westphalia there was only 460 tons of fat, which constituted a bare week’s supply for the miners if no other Germans received any fat at all.
In this desperate situation an appeal was made to Bavaria, which came through and supplied some fats.
“If we had allowed a general strike as was demanded by a third of the Ruhr workers,” one trade union official said to me, “the last possibility of acquiring fats would have been destroyed by the stop- page of transport.”
“We told the workers the truth,” he continued, “and asked them to continue working without any fat ration. We prevented riots believing that if they occurred, the British would have used tanks, and there was a real danger that the Russians would then have come as our ‘liberators’ from Anglo -American tyranny. Anything was preferable to that.”
In that terrible month of January 1948 Boekler had told the British and American authorities that they had better use their troops to get food from the German peasants, rather than send their tanks against the Ruhr workers.
It was hard in the Ruhr to resist the conclusion that by their law-abiding nature, their pacifism, and the mixture of respect, trust, and fear with which they regarded the British Labour Government, the German Social Democrats had indeed made themselves ap- pear to be quislings. As in the late twenties, they were losing popu- lar support and preparing the way for their own demise.
If most of the Ruhr’s trade -union and Social-Democratic leaders appeared to have learned no more than the Occupation Powers from the tragic history of the past thirty years, the same could not be said of other Social-Democratic leaders in Germany. In an earlier chapter I have spoken of the clear-sighted and courageous Berlin Socialists. The views of Carlo Schmidt, the Social-Demo- cratic leader from the French zone, offered a similar contrast.
Carlo Schmidt is an outstanding personality. The son of French mother and a German father, he combines Teutonic strength and determination with Gallic wit and fire, and love of
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 147
life and beauty. A poet, a philosopher, and a professor of interna- tional law, as well as an eloquent speaker, Carlo Schmidt is too well known in the European literary world, and too influential, for the French to dare imprison him. Lesser German “heroes of the re - sistance” against French tyranny are summarily disposed of by the Sûreté. But Carlo Schmidt, who ruled a French province during the days of the German occupation, and achieved an enviable rep- utation for justice and fair dealing and courage in protecting the French from the Gestapo, is a man who can neither be smeared nor easily repressed.
I met Carlo Schmidt first in October 1948 in Bonn, where he was a delegate to the Parliamentary council endeavoring to ham- mer out a Constitution for Western Germany. In late November I met him again in Berlin where he had come to help his Social- Democratic colleagues in the elections. On oth occasions I was impressed, not only by his intelligence and understanding of the problems of our time, but also by his humanity and freedom from class, racial, or national prejudices. Like Ernst Reuter of Berlin, and unlike most of the Socialists I met in the Ruhr, Carlo Schmidt represents a new, nondoctrinaire, Socialist movement, which is more liberal than socialist, more concerned with the preservation of freedom and the basic values of Western civilization than with economic theories.
“If the Allies decide to let us live,” Carlo Schmidt said to me in Bonn, “they must be reasonable, they must leave us the means to earn our bread. If not, they should announce that they intend us to die of hunger, and, if they are merciful, they should provide the necessary gas chambers for our painless extermination.”
The least harm, he said, was being done by the Americans, who took account of economic realities. But the British were deter- mined to wipe out German competition whatever the political and moral cost, while in the French zone destruction had been carried to such lengths that the exports of major industries had been wiped out, and there was no longer any possibility of self-support.
Carlo Schmidt thinks it is a mistake to believe that Communist propaganda n Germanyi today falls on deaf ears. “If the Germans are driven to despair,” he said to me in French, “they will follow the Communists, if only with the hope that the others will also die like dogs.”
Later, at a factory in the French zone, I was told that ome of the workers were already saying, “Let the Russians come. What -
148 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
ever they do to us, we shall at least be able to cut the throats of the French first.”
I had no reason to doubt the value of Carlo Schmidt’s warning that the day might come when the masses would get out of con- trol. Like other German democrats, he also told me that the day after victory the Western Allies could have done anything they liked with the Germans.
“America,” he said, “was like Almighty God in those days. Had she known what she wanted and announced it, she could have shaped Germany and Europe to her will. Today this is no longer the case, not only on account of Soviet Russia, but because the Germans have been disillusioned by the wide gap between demo- cratic pretensions and practices, and the vacillation, weakness, and contradictions in American policy.”
When later in our conversation I commented on the contrast between the heroism of the Berlin Social Democrats and the weak- ness of their Western colleagues in dealing with British and United States Military Government, Carlo Schmidt said this was not due to the cowardice of the latter, but to bitter experience. In Berlin the Germans could look to American support, but in the Western zones they were alone and defenseless. Moreover, the fact that they realized that all open and strong criticisms of the Military Govern- ment played into the hands of the Communists, put them in an extremely difficult position.
In Berlin the German democrats had the Western democracies on their side; in the Western zones they had no support since they refused to accept the Communists as allies, or play off Russia against the West.
Nor could the German democrats in the Western zone count on having grievances and injustices remedied by publicity or appeals to the Congress of the United States and the British Parliament. The Germans have no government to speak for them. They are without rights and live in what is in many respects a vast intern- ment camp. Very few Germans are allowed to travel abroad; for- eign newspapers and books are generally unobtainable; their contacts with foreigners outside the Military Government are few, and they are not even informed about the debates in Congress on Germany, or given the official texts of documents, such as those relating to ECA, which most intimately concern them.
After fifteen years of semi-isolation under Hitler, the Germans under Western Military Government are still cut off from the free world outside.
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 149
At a meeting of Generals Clay and Robertson with German in- dustrialists, officials, and trade-union leaders which I attended at Essen on October 2, 1948, I was astonished to hear neither Hans Boekler nor Arnold Schmidt speak up strongly against dismantle- ment. Here was a meeting open to the press of the world in which the Germans had had a rare opportunity to cry out loud and be heard. But only Kost, the representative of the coal owners, did more than give utterance to polite platitudes. When a few days later in Düsseldorf, I asked for an explanation from an official of the metal-trades union, he said:
“Boekler and the others have for so long had dealings only with the Military Government authorities that they didn’t realize that for once they had an opportunity to speak to the outside world. We are rather like prisoners brought suddenly into the light of day, blinking and unable to believe we are free.”
Nor are they free. Although the Germans are today allowed far greater freedom of speech than in the first years of the occupation, the press is still controlled, and any editor who publishes articles or comments reflecting the real opinions of the Germans is liable to be slapped down and told he is encouraging “nationalism.” Even Americans are not exempt from this charge as was proved when Kendall Foss, the former correspondent of the New York Post who was made editor of the United States Military Govern- ment’s newspaper, Die Neue Zeitung, in 1948, was reprimanded in January 1949 and placed under the supervision of three representa- tives of the Information Services Division. This action was taken by Colonel Textor as a means of assuring that “a strong American staff would control the editorial output of the paper.”
Mr. Foss, who is that rara avis, a real liberal, had made the mis- take of assuming that freedom f the press meant that a newspapero should be “a forum for the expression of German ideas.” He learned, rather later than most Germans, that the “freedom” the United States Military Government allows means only the expres- sion of opinion favorable to itself. Since Die Neue Zeitung is privileged with respect to paper allocation, communication, and transport facilities, it has a much larger circulation than other Ger- man-language newspapers. So the curbing of its freedom of expres- sion was particularly harmful and its German editors resigned in protest.
With respect to freedom of speech and opinion, it would be more honest and less discreditable to democratic principle, to pro- claim openly that such freedom is not permitted in Germany, than
150 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
to pretend that it exists. As one German said to me, “We should have more respect for America if she stopped preaching what she does not practice, since we now no longer have much hope of her practicing what she preaches.”
The Germans are today a little better off than n the first years of the occupation, only because of the disagreements among their conquerors. While the Russian-licensed press exposes us, we ex- pose the Russians; and Anglo-French-American antagonism makes it possible for British-licensed German newspapers to criticize the American Military Government, American-licensed papers to criti- cize the British, and the French to criticize both.
If the German people have been permitted to raise their heads again on account of the quarrels among their rulers, this right is not unquestioned. Every time the Germans dare to protest against their intolerable situation and claim the rights of free men, a spate of articles is let loose in the United States press concerning this dangerous manifestation of “nationalism.”
An article published in the excellent and outspoken Wirtschafts- zeitung of Stuttgart on January 29, 1949, concerning Allied com- plaints of German “arrogance” is very much to the point:
As long as the Germans were pulling their hand wagons and had no idea in their heads other than getting to the country to “organize ruck - sacks of potatoes,” the Germans seemed more agreeable than today. They were then too engulfed in misery, physically weak, and over- whelmed by the catastrophe which had befallen them and the revela- tion of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, to arise and plead their case. They were too discouraged and apathetic then to have much interest in the future. They grumbled, but they did what they were told.
But since they are now a little better off, they are becoming more active— perhaps sometimes even rebellious. Above all they are now industrious and filled with a pathetic desire to reconstruct their country.
The Allied occupation authorities, having permitted the Germans to be a little better off, are now surprised and indignant that there is no gratitude for the improvement. The Germans complain that there is insufficient improvement and demand more opportunity to develop their strength and have become “too bold.”
One might say with ome exaggeration that, as compareds with the former apathy which prevailed, the smallest expression of the will to live on the part of the Germans is now regarded as “arrogance.”
Not only is the German press under military government still kept in a strait-jacket; the Germans are not allowed any direct
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 151
communication with the outside world, or any press representation abroad, so they are entirely dependent on American, British, and French correspondents for the expression of their grievances, which are therefore rarely brought to the attention of their conquerors.
Officially the Germans may have no communication with any authority outside and above the Military Government.
As one German Social Democrat said to me: “The American people are far away but General Clay is very near. We have little faith in the effectiveness of the principles and good will of the American people, as against the power of General Clay. Since Gen- eral Clay is badly advised, especially on economic questions, we have more reason to fear him than to trust to the good will of the American people.”
When at a meeting of the Minister Presidents of all the German states, one bold German proposed to address an appeal direct to Congress on the dismantlement question, begging for help, the majority voted against the proposal saying that the result was un- certain and it would anger the American occupation forces.
“Hoffman does not exist for us,” said Carlo Schmidt. “The ECA people will have to come to us, for we are not allowed to com- municate with them.”
It caused much resentment that the Military Government should use the situation of the Berliners as a means to blackmail the Western German democrats. In effect, the Germans were told on more than one occasion that protests against dismantlement might result in the starvation of Berlin. The threat was, of course, made in more veiled terms. The German authorities in the Western zones were told that if American, British, or French people were antagonized by active opposition to dismantlement, it might be impossible for the Military Government to obtain the means to supply and hold Berlin.
This seems to the Germans not only a denial of the unity of interests between the Western powers and the German democrats in face of Soviet aggression and Communist crimes against hu- manity. It also recalled the early days of the occupation when the Americans had not scrupled to coerce individual Germans by the threat of handing them over to the tender mercies of the Russians. To hint that Berlin might have to be surrendered to the Commu- nist terror, if the Germans of the Western zone refused to submit quietly to the loss of their livelihood through dismantlement, was both dishonorable and politically stupid.
While in Germany I was often reminded of the story told y a
152 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
South American ambassador to a New York audience. I cannot vouch for its authenticity but it illustrates my point.
The Foreign Minister of San Marino, the story ran, came to Washington to try to get a loan. At the State Department the first question ut to himp was: How many Communists are there in San Marino? The diplomat answered that San Marino was a very small state and a happy one and had no Communists. “Very sorry,” said the State Department; “in that case we can’t give you a loan.”
So the Foreign Minister of San Marino went to Paris, and said to Monsieur Bidault, the Foreign Minister: “France and San Ma - rino have always been friends, would you do us a favor and lend us a few Communists in order that we may get a loan from America?”
“I regret it xceedingly.” replied Monsieur Bidault. “I would be delighted to help the good people of San Marino if I could. But unfortunately we cannot spare you a single one of our Communists since we need them all for the same purpose.”
The sequel to this story provides the moral. Today the Republic of San Marino has a Communist-dominated government.
If there had been a strong Communist movement in Germany, as in Italy, the Germans would be receiving far better treatment at our hands. The great majority of Germans, having met commu- nism in Russia face to face, or having suffered under it following Germany’s defeat, or having relatives in the Soviet Union’s concen - tration camps, or having seen the living skeletons of the former soldiers who return from Russian imprisonment, or being immune to Communist blandishments on account of their experiences under Hitler’s similar regime, are anti -Communist. This has led the British, French, and American authorities to believe that how- ever badly we treat the Germans they must ake our side. We seem t to act on the theory that we should bribe those whom we fear may become our enemies, while we can safely maltreat those most cer- tain to be on our side.
Thus the Germans who, for good or ill, are a consistent and straightforward people, suffer today in consequence of the belief that, however hardly we treat them, they will never join our Com- munist enemies.
While seeking by endless subsidies to maintain the weak forces of French democracy, we insult and browbeat the German demo- crats, and cut the ground from under their feet by appeasing France, as we formerly appeased Soviet Russia. It is therefore
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 153
hardly surprising that Communist influence in the Western zones is far from being negligible. Although very few Germans have any illusions about Communism, a considerable number are beginning to think that “it couldn’t be worse” under the Russians, and that perhaps in the long run it might be better. A more powerful in- centive to coming to terms with the Soviet Government is the refusal of the West either to guarantee Germany’s defense or allow her to defend herself.
A former high German administrative official under the United States Military Government said to me in Munich: “If the Ger - mans continue to be told that the United States is only concerned with the defense of France, England, and the Low Countries, and doesn’t care a damn what happens to Germany, Western Germany may be forced to join up with Soviet Russia.”
A young German employed by the Military Government in Mu- nich said hat more and more Bavarians were saying: “If after being t disarmed by the United States we are also going to be abandoned in the event of war, we had better not offend Russia.”
This same young man told me that he was reproached by every- one, including people who had always been anti-Nazi, for working for the Military Government, so complete is the disillusionment with America among liberal circles which had first welcomed us as liberators.
Moreover, he said, it was considered very dangerous now to work for the Military Government, since anyone who did so could expect to be liquidated “when the Russians come.”
“Everyone is now looking for a Communist friend who will pro - tect him, and wants to be able to say to the Russians. ‘I never col- laborated with the mericans.’ Factory A owners who refuse contri - butions to the other parties give money to the Communist Party as a form of insurance.”
Dr. Mauritz, a German working in the Public Opinion Section of Military Government, said that the uncertainty of United States policy and the fear that Germany would be left defenseless before Russian attack played into the hands of the Communists. Ameri- can Military Intelligence, however, seemed to ignore the danger because it took the election returns as proof of the small number of Communist sympathizers. It ignored the fear and the desperate search for security which led men to try and establish “good rela - tions” with the Communists.
“Men who have lived through both the Nazi terror and the
154 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
Communist terror and have come here after losing everything they possessed,” said Dr. Mauritz, “are now in deadly fear that the Rus - sians will come, and are seeking for any kind of security.”
Some, he continued, think that they can win only with the Com- munist Party, not against it. thers, whose houses and furniture O have been taken from them for the use of the occupiers, or who have been rendered destitute by currency reform, say: “The Amer - icans have stripped us of everything we possessed; what more can Russia do to us?”
These sentiments were not confined to the former middle classes who are now paupers. They were also expressed to me by a con- siderable number of workers. At Lindau on Lake Constance, for instance, where the train on which I was re-entering Germany from Switzerland topped for an hour, I spoke to some of the men work-s ing on the railway. When I asked how people felt here about Rus- sia, one of them shrugged his shoulders and said, “What can they do to me? I have nothing more to lose.”
The feeling that there is no hope on either side, is reviving the belief that “only a strong man can save us.” Whereas the Nazis were utterly discredited by the end of the war, many Germans now think that, after all, Hitler was right. The success of Military Gov- ernment in creating Nazis, is illustrated by the joke about the Ger- man who came to the denazification office to register as a Nazi. “Why the —— didn’t hyou come three years ago?” he is asked. “I wasn’t a Nazi then,” he replied.
After spending a few weeks in Bavaria, I could appreciate the force of Carlo Schmidt’s speech at a Social -Democratic party meet- ing in Berlin which I attended on November 27, 1948. He said that thousands of marks had been collected in Bavaria for the Com- munist Party by people who were “laying in stocks of Persil* for the next cleaning.” People who were preparing for any eventuality were trying secretly to insure themselves against a Communist vic- tory while voting for “reaction,” meaning the Christian -Democratic party (CDU)
“I wish,” Carlo Schmidt said, “that I could take some of the strength of Berlin back with me to the West. In the Western zones — where, as compared to the East, we enjoy some freedom and peace— there is defeatism. The future seems to offer us nothing but suffering, and hope is almost dead. But here in Berlin you are show-
* A well-known brand of soap flakes.
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 155
ing that we Germans can still make history as well as suffer— here a glorious chapter is being written in the record of man’s struggle for freedom. The Berliners are showing the world how a brave peo- ple can behave in defeat under alien occupation.”
“The German name,” he continued, “has been rehabilitated in Berlin. It is honored once more. We have only Berlin to thank for the fact that there is today some sympathy for the German people.
“We in the Western zones are sending you a few calories, but we are receiving from you something infinitely more precious: our moral calories come to us from Berlin. We owe it to you that Ger- many has regained its self-respect, and that we can hope that at last Germans will again be at home in their own country.”
The hall was icy cold, unheated except for the body warmth of the thousands assembled. Carlo Schmidt had fired them; Ernst Reuter, who spoke next, evoked a warmth of affection which few democratic leaders in the world today can inspire. Looking like sad sea lion, in his overcoat and with a muffler around his neck, hoarse and tired and with a bad cold, Reuter spoke to the crowd as their elected mayor rather than as a leader of the Social-Demo- cratic party. Schmidt had spoken against the Christian-Democratic party in the Western zones, although he had been careful to dis- tinguish between the Berlin Christian Democrats fighting together with the SPD for liberty, and the Bavarian CDU leaders hom he called “hard -faced men” who “mean money when they speak of God.” But the only part of Reuter’s speech which could be con - strued as Socialist appeal was also a plea for unity. “Adenauer.”* he said, “is a foreigner to Berlin which he does not visit. He lives on the lovely Rhine, but he should remember that Berlin is also German and that the Rhine belongs to us too.”
“The Communists,” continued Reuter, “will never win power if the Germans remain united against them.”
Carlo Schmidt had appealed to the erliners to “free us of the B West” from the domination of the reactionaries who “deny the right of the masses to be a subject instead of an object in the eco- nomic process.” The people, he had said, see no value in democracy if it means that they have to endure despotism in the factories six“ days a week, and become free men only once in every four years when sticking a paper in the ballot box.”
Reuter, however, addressed this Socialist meeting in much the
* The leader of the CDU who was also chairman of he Parliamentary Coun- t cil at Bonn engaged in drawing up a constitution for Western Germany.
156 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
same terms as I had heard him speak to the hundreds of thousands of Germans of all parties assembled outside the Reichstag in Sep- tember.
“We are the only people in Europe still forced to live in war conditions,” said Reuter. “We cannot rebuild our besieged city; we still live in fear and deprived of the possibility to work and re- construct our devastated homes.”
And again, as on every occasion on which I heard im speak, Reuter insisted: “We are not enemies of the Russian people. We are fighting against the policy of the Soviet occupation power.”
“We cannot help it that our women will never forget what hap - pened to them at the hands of the Russian soldiers.” Reu ter con- tinued, “but we are haters of no people, race, or nation.”
Both speakers emphasized Berlin’s position as the capital of Ger - many, and Schmidt assured the Berliners that the Germans of the Western zones would insist on Berlin’s being represented n the Parliament of Western Germany.
I did not meet Kurt Schumacher, the chairman of the SPD, who was in the hospital recovering from the amputation of a leg while I was in Germany. So Ernst Reuter and Carlo Schmidt are the two outstanding Social-Democratic leaders I got to know. I cannot say which is the greater man of the two, since their experience and the problems they face today are so dissimilar. Reuter spent the war years in exile in Turkey; Schmidt was an officer in the German Army, although never Nazi. Reuter is leading the German re- sistance in Berlin against Communism with some Anglo-American support. Schmidt is fighting a battle on two fronts: against Com- munism and against the Western Military Governments which still treat the Germans as unworthy of the rights of free men.
Both men are brave, sincere, and unflinching in their defense of democracy. Both are physically strong and dynamic personalities. Reuter, the Prussian who used to be a professor, and Schmidt the poet who was a soldier, are at one in their repudiation of the nar- row, doctrinaire socialism of the past. The basic aims and values of both men are primarily liberal. They have both assimilated the experience of the past decades and understand, far better than most Western Labour nd Socialista leaders, that the economic organiza- tion of society is secondary to the preservation of basic liberties, justice, respect for the dignity of man, honor and truthfulness and fair-dealing between men and groups and nations. They are also realists who refuse to accept words for deeds, and know that all the
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 157
fine proclamations of the United Nations mean nothing, if denied by actions contrary to the principles professed by the democracies.
As I sat listening to Reuter in my seat next to his wife, sensed her fears as well as her love and pride. Few others have thus defied Soviet terror at close quarters and escaped death. Frau Reuter lives in perpetual fear that the Russians will murder, or kidnap and exe- cute, her brave husband. She also had good reason to dread that his health will break, since he never spares himself and works night and day without sufficient good food, for the Western occupying powers, unlike the Soviets, give no material aid to those who fight our battles.
Three months earlier I had sat with the Reuters in the little garden of their house in Zehlendorf, where in his “spare time” Ernst cultivates his vegetables like any other Berliner lucky enough to have a small plot of land to produce some food to supplement their inadequate rations.
We had discussed the chances of continuing American support of German democracy, and I had expressed my horror and disgust of the conqueror versus conquered attitude of the British and Americans in Berlin, which reminded me of the behavior of the “ whites” toward Asiatic and African peoples. Reuter had replied that all that was “your business,” not his. He had made me under - stand, without precisely saying so, that just as he, like all Germans had to suffer the consequences of Nazi crimes, so we in he West would similarly be held responsible before the bar of history for our government’s “crimes against humanity” in defeated Germany. It was our affair, not his. He was concerned with Germany’s pres - ent fight for freedom against the Communist totalitarian tyranny which threatened to supplant Hitler’s.
Reuter told me that it was he who had first formulated the slo- gan “Berlin is not Prague.” He was expressing the feeling of the Berliners that if they could stand firm, in spite of hunger and cold and Communist terror, they would eventually be able to win free- dom and “make it impossible for the West any longer to treat us as natives.”
The world, having seen the fall of Czechoslovakia without struggle, had merely watched and said, “Who will be the next vic- tim of Communist aggression?” But Berlin had shown that even an unarmed people, given the will and courage to resist, could with- stand the Communist assault.
Reuter was amused, instead of bitter, about the British. While
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not at all flattering in his remarks about the United States occupa- tion authorities, he said that the Americans were less self-confident, more curious and somewhat more human in their contacts with the Germans than the British, who are “the real master race.” Con - versations with the Americans in Berlin were “possible”; although he and other Germans were still treated as underlings, they could at least discuss with the Americans the situation caused by the blockade. But the British continued to be “stiff.” The British knew their business and made fewer mistakes than the Americans, but the latter at least behaved as human beings. The behavior of Brit- ish officers, on the contrary, seemed similar to that of the stiff- necked German officials who respected nothing but force.
One day, Reuter said, he had got really angry with the British and told them that he would no longer obey their orders unless they changed their attitude. “Tell your general,” he had said, “that he can expect complete disintegration of the administrative ma- chinery.” The result of this defiance was a call to visit the British general in command.
“Is it true,” Reuter was asked, “that you have said you will no longer obey us.”
“If the situation continues as at present, I cannot obey,” Reuter replied.
The British general thereupon smiled and terminated the inter- view. He had wanted to make it clear that the Germans must obey under any circumstances. Confronted with a blunt refusal, he had climbed down.
The Communist menace had forced the Western Powers to start treating the Germans with more politeness. After the Soviet block- ade of Berlin began, both the American and British representatives in the Allied Kommandatura had actually got up when the Ger- man representatives arrived.
Reuter was convinced that the Social-Democratic party’s ma - jority in Berlin had been won through the confidence engendered by its behavior. Eventually this confidence would enable it to be- come the leading party in Germany as a whole, and thus enable it to carry out its economic and social rogram. But, he said, “we p shall never try to establish a socialist economy by force. We shall endeavor to lead Germany to socialism, but not to force it upon our people. We don’t think of economic problems in the old terms.
So many things formerly believed impossible have been proved possible; and so many simple solutions have proved fallible. We
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 159
are no longer doctrinaire Socialists, for according to theoretical writings we all ought to be dead. We know, from our terrible ex- periences, that reliance on absolute theories can lead us to ruin; we must experiment and judge by trial and error what are the best forms of economic organization, but always conceiving of freedom and respect for individual rights, justice, and human dignity as the criteria of progress.”
It had been warm and peaceful in Reuter’s garden, and he had stilled my fears that Western civilization was doomed, by his calm and confident belief that in the end right and decency and reason would triumph. Afterwards, in the Western zones, it had been far harder to believe in the victory of democracy than in Berlin. In the West instead of the sound of American planes flying in supplies to defend democracy, there was the sight of factories being torn down to discredit it.
How long would German fears f the Communist terror prevento their coming to terms with the Russians if we continue to demon- strate that there is no hope for Germany on our side?
In Berlin no one is ever likely to forget the murder and rape and pillage of the Russian occupiers when they held the whole town, and everyone knows what is going on now in the Eastern zone. But in the Western zones they are mainly concerned with their own grievances under Western occupation.
One of the German Defense Counsel at Nuremberg who has French wife and lives on Lake Constance under French occupa- tion, said to me:
“Russia could create a powerful pro -Russian movement in Ger- many in a few weeks, if she would give even the smallest practical proof of good will in deeds, instead of words. She would only have to offer to give back our lost territories and give us a national gov- ernment. The Russians have this chance to play on German pa- triotism while the Americans haven’t. Moreover, the Americans want us to have no patriotic feelings at all.
“Although almost all Germans are anti-Communist and terrified of what the Communists would do to them, if the Russians came with patriotic slogans and ceased to use the German Communists, they would be wonderfully successful.
“Most Germans would think twice before becoming soldiers of America. Not only is there little faith left in your democratic pro- fessions after the way you have treated us. The very fact that we still recognize that you are more humane and civilized than the
160 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
Russians plays into their hands. Having little confidence that Amer- ica will defend Germany or win the war quickly, it seems safer to go along with the Russians who will kill everyone who opposes them if they occupy Germany. We know, on the other hand, that those who fight for Russia won’t all be killed after America’s victory.
“Since the West offers us nothing to fight for and we have no illusions left about anybody or any political creed, don’t expect us to think nowadays about anything but our personal security. Hav- ing been both Nazified and denazified with equal disregard for justice and honesty, and having also observed America’s benevolent attitude toward the Communists so long as it suited her interests, we Germans are today disinclined to believe anything or fight for anybody.”
This young German lawyer, although anti-Communist, had con- ceived a great affection and respect for the Russian people while on the Russian front in the early stages of the war. He had marched on foot from the Polish frontier to the Sea of Azov and been very much moved and impressed by the kindness of the people and the virtue of the women. When the German soldiers arrived footsore, hungry, and weary at the end of a long day’s march the villagers would come with milk and make them comfortable.
“Their instinct was to help the suffering because they them- selves have suffered all their lives. Yet the women who tended to us were extremely virtuous. They were friendly, but they would have no sexual intercourse with us. They were human beings helping other human beings and unconcerned with national hatreds and passions.”
“Coming from Nazi Germany where everything was action, it made a tremendous impression on me to come to Russia where suffering is constant and borne with passive courage. Many of us who were soldiers in Russia now feel that we have more to learn from Russia than from the West.
“By being so active and working hard, we Germans have made the whole world unhappy. Our greatest need is to develop our con- templative faculties, and here we can learn much from the Russian people.
“We Germans are always either too hostile or too friendly to other people, whereas the Russians take people as individuals, and know that principles are just principles, and that it is human be-
GERMAN DEMOCRACY BETWEEN SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 161
havior which counts. We ask, What has he done, but the Russian people ask, What kind of a man is he?”
This is a romantic view. But there is no doubt that many Ger- mans feel sympathy for the Russian people, who are as miserable, oppressed, and poor as themselves.
A few of the returned prisoners of war I talked to in Germany, without having any such philosophical concepts as those I have just quoted, felt friendly toward the Russians who had suffered as much or more as themselves. And down in Munich where I met a whole group of Russians who had been prisoners of war or “slave laborers” in Germany, I found a reciprocal friendliness toward the German people. The maxim that suffering makes all men brothers may yet bring the Germans and Russians together against the rich, com- fortable, and complacent West. The Germans and Russians are held apart only by the cruelty and stupidities of the Soviet Gov- ernment. Should the latter be able or willing to reverse its policies, I have no doubt that it is true that Russia could win immense in- fluence in Germany. Fortunately for the Western world the crimes and follies of the Soviet dictator are greater even than ours. Never- theless our belief that however badly we treat the Germans they must remain on our side, is a dangerous delusion.
The fact that the United States Military Government has its headquarters in Berlin probably gives it an unduly optimistic view of German sentiments. As a well-known German politician in Ba- varia said to me: “The sentiments of the Berlin population are quite different from those of the Germans in the Western zones. Not only do the Berliners know better what to expect from Russia: they are also terrified at the prospect of the revenge the Soviet Gov- ernment will exact if Berlin is abandoned by the West. But in the Western zones where the people have experienced only the injus- tices perpetrated by America, Britain, and France, and where there has been no such strong opposition to Communism as in Berlin, the people are less afraid of Russia.”