The creation of the FRG and “re-education” of Germans
Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront
Today, many wonder why Angela Merkel continues to comply with the US and does not respond adequately to the wiretapping scandal of German politicians by the CIA. Or why Germany loyally follows the US sanctions policy toward Russia, which has brought huge material losses for the German business. Only a comprehensive and complete view of German history after 1945 can give us answers to such questions.
At the Yalta and Potsdam conferences in 1945, when the fate of postwar Europe was decided, Stalin and the Western Allies agreed to divide Germany and Austria into four occupation zones – American, Soviet, French and English. The management of these areas is militarian and terminates the existence of an independent German state. For this purpose is established the Allied Control Commission, which existed from 1945 to 1990. With a series of orders, this committee removes the existence of the German army, withdraws German diplomats from foreign countries, changes the administrative-territorial division and closes various German institutions, some of which existed long before Hitler and the Weimar Republic.
The four victorious nations have different goals in Germany. For Moscow, Eastern Germany is an important outpost against the West. The French, in turn, want to fulfill a long-standing goal of the French foreign policy from the time of Richelieu to the twentieth century, namely to secure it’s eastern borders and to ensure that never again, east of the Rhine will there be a unified and strong country that can challenge French power on the continent or endanger France itself. Very different are the goals of Anglo-American political and military circles.
Initially among Western allies there wasn’t clarity on what should be done with Germany after the war. The administration of President Roosevelt, and in particular Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau stipulates for Germany to be de-industrialized and turned into a “pastoral side, unable to maintain military forces or to defend her sovereignty”. On the other hand there are proposals which are strongly supported by France, that Germany should be divided into several states which exist as economic appendages to England, France and the USA. Eventually accepted is the plan “Morgenthau” but with significant changes, as even public opinion in the allied countries was horrified by the idea that demands full de-industrialization of Germany, the deportation of millions of Germans, and according to some articles in the then American press, even the sterilization of 12 million German women.
When Roosevelt is proposed a moderate plan for the reconstruction and democratization of Germany, he rejects it by saying: “Too many people, both at home and in England believe that the German people as a whole are not responsible for the war, and that only the Nazi elite must take responsibility. Unfortunately, this is not based on any facts. The German people must understand that their whole nation was involved in a conspiracy against civilization, and therefore should be punished.”
In the spring of 1945 General Eisenhower signs a document – JCS 1067, part of which states that “there should not be any steps towards the economic recovery of Germany or anything that could maintain and strengthen the German economy”. The only problem of the destruction in Germany, according to Eisenhower, was that disease, hunger and crime can compromise the occupying forces. Another of the objectives set in order JCS 1067, was to reduce the standard of living of the population and if necessary, to artificially keep it as such. When on May 10, 1945 Truman officially signs this document, Henry Morgenthau told people around him that this is a victory for the Treasury Department and only hopes that “society would not recognize this order as part of my plan because they would never support it.”
All this clearly contrasts with the official allied position that “the life of the Germans should be restored to normal, on a democratic and peaceful basis.” Beyond the declarations of peace, democratization and gradual recovery of Germany, Americans and others allies undertake the tasks set in the plan “Morgenthau” and the document JCS 1067. In order to be efficient and easily accomplish the larger task, permitted is the existence of German political parties, trade unions, religious associations and authorities at the local level to help mostly US and British occupying forces. In this respect particularly useful is the support of the Vatican, which exercises some influence over Christian democrats through the Catholic clergy, Catholic organizations, foundations and schools.
Naturally the allies begin to transfer or destroy the armaments industry of Germany, but since it is assumed that in the era of total war, the civilian industry is also as “dangerous for democracy and peace,” there begins the transfer of whole companies from Germany to England, USA and to a lesser extent, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and others. Adopted were standards for the existence of a German industry, according to which for the natural survival and consequently for the payment of reparations, the Germans will have to maintain at least 25% of it’s pre-war industrial and economic power. By decision of the US military authorities on March 29, 1946, destroyed were 1500 industrial enterprises. Some of the major corporations and their plants and factories are literally dismantled and transferred to the United States and England. In modern calculations what the United States appropriated from Germany, only as intellectual, scientific and technological resources, equals 10 billion dollars (mostly technological developments, patents and the like). In addition, the Allied control Commission accepts an upper ceiling for the German steel industry – 5.8 million tons steel per year, or almost 25% of production in prewar years. The car industry is limited to only 10% of prewar levels, and allied military and economic circles are of the opinion that it is not reasonable that the standard of living of the German population to exceed that of 1932, when Germany was suffering from the Great depression. Even the timber industry had not remained outside the attention of US authorities which exported huge quantities of goods to the US, practically for free. As grounds for that, the Treasury Department cited “the timber industry in Germany has great military potential that could be used against the peaceful and democratic development of Europe.”
All this leads to unseen in scale epidemics, hunger and high levels of crime and prostitution among the German population. According to a report of the British occupation forces in late 1945, the introduced rationing system was able to ensure that each adult German had 1200 calories per day. In this sense, particularly revealing are the words of US General Clay, spoken in the context of the emerging Cold War:
“Between being a communist and getting 1500 calories a day, and being a convinced democrat who gets 1000 calories, there is no real choice.”
Hunger and disease increased the mortality rate among adults 4 times, and among children a whole 10 times, which practically reached and even surpassed the levels of infant mortality in the pre-industrial era. For this reason the Vatican tried to transfer food and medicine to children in Germany using Chilean companies and charities, but the operation of the Catholic church is stopped by US authorities who warn the Vatican that such attempts will have serious consequences. The havoc is increased by the fact that the German Red Cross is prohibited. The few organizations that are entitled to supply Germany are obliged to not transfer provisions from abroad, and considering the state of German agriculture and light industry, this makes them virtually nonfunctional.
Also considered is the absorption by France of the Ruhr and Saarland areas, as compensation for the wars that France and Germany led from 1870 to 1945. US Secretary of State James Birns says the following on the matter:
“The United States does not believe that denying the claims of France concerning Saarland, since during the last 70 years France has been attacked three times by the Germans.” So in 1947, Saarland becomes a French protectorate and is returned to Germany ten years later, when the geopolitical interests of the US in Europe, are determined by the confrontation with the USSR.
In the postwar years, the allies do not ignore the question of “re-education” of the German people. In this process, which is separate from de-Nazification, a particular role plays the Division for psychological warfare at the Supreme Headquarters of Allied expeditionary forces. This special unit takes up a strong campaign, whose ultimate goal is that the “German people realize their collective guilt” and eradicate the “innate German militarism, aggressive nationalism and harmful for all free peoples, sense of German superiority and self-confidence”. According to the British Information Department of the Allied military authorities the “sense of collective guilt for all Nazi crimes and two world wars is a precondition for long-term rehabilitation of the German people.” Later, taken is a measures to “democratize” the curricula in history, literature, geography and philosophy for students. Furthermore, the German film industry is subject to strict censorship that continues long after the end of the occupation and the creation of FGR.
In terms of the emerging Cold War, the United States understands that the creation of the German state is imperative to restore Western Europe and to oppose Moscow. The first step in this direction is set in the “Marshall Plan”, namely the establishment of the German mark in 1948, which was previously unthinkable under the conditions and targets of the JCS 1067. Factors that accelerate the process of formation of a new German state were the need to cover the costs of the allied occupation that should be borne by Germany (2 $ 4 billion per year), the inability of economic recovery of Western Europe without the successful integration of Germany into a new system of economic cooperation and collective defense, and not in last place the Soviet blockade of Berlin. Moreover, in 1948 the crumbling British Empire entered a spiral of politico-military, economic and social crisis, leaving the Americans alone in solving the German question. London openly stated that it could not support a large military formation in Germany, and this leaves the US with only one option – to accelerate the process of the state-formation of Germany, which in turn would establish a strong German army that could resist a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, while US forces and England are transferred to the mainland. The merger of British, French and American occupation zones and their administrative integration proceeds, which is the most important prerequisite for the creation of a strong West German state. This process is carried out relatively quickly and effectively as obstacles are created only by France, which understandably sees no need for the creation of a unified Germany.
On May 23, 1949 adopted was the Basic Law of Germany, which acts as a constitution today. With this was established Germany. The first post-war government headed by conservative politician Konrad Adenauer, who even in 1945 was elected by the Anglo-Americans as mayor of Cologne, as he was known as a “Prussiaphobe” and a convinced democrat, although his methods of governance are often characterized as authoritarian. On April 10, 1949 the Occupied status of Germany is formed, which determines the level of self-government and independence of the Federal Republic and it’s obligations to allies. According to this statute, Germany was a “conditionally independent” country, but all issues related to demilitarization, reparations, the Ruhr industrial area and even the external relations of the new state are subject to Allied military administration. This occupation status is valid until 1954 and is composed, organized and implemented by the British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, Robert Schuman. Moreover, Germany is admitted as a beneficiary country under the plan “Marshall” and restrictions on civilian industry are eliminated. Not so important, but symbolically, the Americans allow the government to accept Das Lied der Deutschen (Song of the Germans) for the state anthem. However, in heated public debate weighs the position, supported by the Americans that only the third verse of anthem must be adopted because the others were “too patriotic”.
About Konrad Adenauer we can rightly say that he achieved a lot. With his long-term management, the FRG created it’s modern institutions, prisoners of war from the USSR were returned, the economic devastation gave way to Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle), the country became a co-founder of the future EU, FGR joins the European Defense Community and again becomes a factor in Europe. What historians, journalists and political scientists often miss is that Adenauer fails to, or is not trying to formulate an independent foreign policy of the Federal Republic, which operates exclusively in the mainstream of American interests. He tries to limit as much as possible the influence of allies in Germany, but most times unsuccessfully. The entire post-war history of FGR is the attempt on the German side to win over sovereignty and to mitigate the various requests and demands of the allies. For example, in a debate in the Bundestag, when criticized by the opposition that his government has abandoned the Ruhr area to the wants of the allies, Adenauer says:
“The Allies told me that the destruction, dismantling and transfer of German industry will stop only if I satisfy their demands, does the Socialist Party want this to continue to the very end?”
Two of the most important events in his management are the creation of the German army, with American permission and support, as to ensure the security of the country and participate in collective defense against the Soviet Union, and Stalin’s famous proposal for the unification of Germany. In 1952, Stalin offered the West and the Governments of East and West Germany to unite and ensure it’s independence and neutrality towards the East and the West. Here manifests the side of German policy which can still be seen today. Adenauer rejected the possibility of unification with East Germany, although to German society he claims that his government will always work toward this. Instead of answering the Stalin proposal, he rejected it after a long meeting with the Americans. It turns out that the pro-Western and Atlantic orientation of Germany are more important than the reunification and the possibility of neutrality towards the USSR and the USA. Later, when Germany is unified, Helmut Kohl negotiates hard with the USSR, USA, France and England to get their support. According to the agreements that it signed with them, German reunification is recognized, provided that German military power is maintained at a level lower than that of France and England. In addition, on German territory there still are US military bases. The post-Cold War foreign policy of Germany, which for decades has been dependent on the US begins to ward off from the US, but this is too slow. At the time of Chancellor Schroeder’s relations with Russia and other Western nations are growing, and those with the United States have lost their former significance, but the status quo returns when Angela Merkel sits on the chancellor’s chair. Today, the question of the independence of German foreign policy is particularly relevant, given the leadership role of Berlin in the EU.