on the World Today
No MATTER where one goes in Germany’s devastated towns and cities, regrettably well-preserved relics of a long outdated political and social setup stare the visitor in the face. They have survived the fall of the Empire, the death of the Republic, the Götterdämmerung of Hitler’s “OneThousand-Year Reich.” So far they have clearly defeated the combined Military Governments of the United States, Britain, and France, and are the implacable foe of the new West German state.
The civil service law is at the core of the German problem. Three years ago Military Government asked the German authorities to revise their civil service law because it shuts out about 99 per cent, of the people from participation in the administration of their local or national affairs and reserves the job of running the state to a small clique which until 1918 used to be the Emperor’s “little arm,” responsible only to him and not to the people.
The civil service clique is the most tightly knit group and the most powerful body in the country. It controls the people as well as the government. Tradition permits civil servants to hold their jobs at full pay and at the same time to sit in the legislature as elected members. About 40 per cent of the seats in the legislature are held by Beamte, civil servants. Cabinet ministers are either members of the clique themselves or are surrounded by members.
The American request to reform the civil service has been sabotaged and sidetracked since November, 1946. In February, 1949, therefore, the Military Governors of the British and American zone set up a personnel office for the Bizonal administration (750,000 people), including employees of the state-owned railroads, post office, and so forth-with limited success. But the new constitution for Western Germany is full of openings through which the old system can infiltrate.
This is not surprising, because among the sixtyfive people who drafted the constitution, only seven were not on the government payroll. It is natural that they would protect their vested interests. They know from past experience that there can be no democratic government as long as they remain in their unique position as lawgivers and—simultaneously — execut ive organs of the state. Britain, France, and the United States, having handed back most of their control powers to the Germans, can do little to remedy the situation unless they reverse their policy and assume direct responsibility again. Military Government officials have been restricted to advice; they cannot give orders.
The inside elique otakes over
The same regrettable, hasty return of control to the Germans has dimmed hopes of other needed reforms and has jeopardized the new state through political intrigues. The Bavarian radio is a case in point. Radio Munich had to be built up from scratch after the war. It developed into a flourishing and highly successful organization run by American Military Government experts. It was understood from the beginning that the actual work should be done by Germans, and more and more Americans withdrew as capable and reliable German reporters, broadcasters, commentators, and technicians became available. Finally there were only four Americans in a staff of eight hundred.
Following the general principle, American policymakers decided to give the Germans full control. Radio stations are not privately owned in Germany, and a Public Service Corporation was established with a board of thirty-three appointed members, about half of whom were on the government payroll. Then the clique went to work. The station’s top news commentator, who was known to be a “reformer,” backed the Military Government program to the last letter. The clique demanded his scalp, and the best the occupation authorities could get was a compromise. The commentator’s time was cut, and a spokesman for the board was appointed to alternate with him.
The press faces a similar problem now that the Military Government has surrendered its right to license newspaper publishers. After V-E Day, a licensing system was set up by the Allied armies. Nazi printing plants were seized and turned over to democratic Germans. A few months ago General Clay ruled that they must either buy the plants or return them to the denazified publishers within four years. Since most of the democratic publishers are financially weak, many of the plants will revert to their former owners. Furthermore, with the end of licensing, any Nazi or militarist who has the cash can start a competing newspaper and run a weak democratic publisher out of business.
A clean sweep of these relics of the past is Germany’s only political hope. It is also a necessity for permanent economic recovery. Germany must repair not only the war damage but the still more serious pre-war damage. Take the ancient propaganda fairy tale of the Volk ohne Lebensraum (People without Living Space). It is a fact that Germany is very densely’ populated. But other countries are far worse off For example, Holland has about 50 per cent more people per square kilometer of land, and yet the Dutch have plenty of food to spare for export. The Germans, on the other hand, import nearly half their calorie intake — 25 per cent from the United States. A recent study shows why. The traditional German agrarian policy has been to protect agriculture through subsidies, price support, and similar government intervention at the expense of other sectors of the national economy.
This system inevitably results in an isolation of domestic agriculture and food prices from the outside world. It involves shifting — oftentimes in a hidden way —very substantial resources to agriculture. The cost of such subsidies reached about a billion marks before the war.
Germany’s food and agricultural research stations and educational institutions are wholly incommensurate with the nation’s needs. There is no efficient organization for conveying to farmers the benefits of improved methods. There is not a single department or institute of home economies in the country.
Important developments in agricultural-nutritional science of the past fifteen years are unknown to both farmers and agricultural leaders. There is no coördination among research and education institutes within Germany or with other countries.
Above all, the waste of land and manpower is staggering. There are about 1.6 million farms in Western Germany; their average size is 25 acres but most of them have less than 12 acres. These comparatively small farms are usually split up into tiny plots — sometimes as many as fifty or sixty — several miles apart.
Thus from 7 to 10 per cent of the precious land in a densely populated country is wasted on excess roads. About fifteen minutes out of every hour of work are lost through moving from one plot to the next and dragging equipment from field to field
The Germans mark time
In the industrial field, progress has been spectacular compared with Germany’s production figures of However, Germany is still far behind the achievements in other European countries. The post-war record was set last May with an over-all production index of 88 (1936 is 100). At the same time the production index was 140 in Norway, 128 in France, 125 in Britain. The per capita production is even lower; about two thirds of 1936. Observers on the spot consider a further downward movement not imposible.
Capital is not available for building badly needed housing. In fact, there is very little money for any kind of investment. Several months ago the Bizonal administration intended to raise 2 billion Deutsche marks for investments in the coal industry but failed to get 100 million. Why?
Some economists believe that there is simply no money around. The currency reform which has stopped the inflation has also wiped out more than 90 per cent of the liquid funds in the country. Others feel that the small investor is no longer interested in profits, but in security, and that he has turned from the stock exchange to the “safe deposit ” in an old stocking. More politically-minded observers maintain that the German bankers are holding back capital; that in fact the whole population is unwilling to pull its full weight until the Allies have left the country.
The fruits of war
There may be some truth in this explanation, though it does not take into consideration the destruction of German industrial plants and the disruption of the transportation system, the apathy of the people, the exhaustion of the national resources during the war, and the loss of foreign markets after the war.
Another terrific handicap has been the absorption of about 10 million refugees — Germans who had to leave their homes in the Soviet zone, Poland, Czechoslovakia, or other parts of the Communist East. To find work, tools, homes, food, and consumers’ goods for such a host of people in a devastated, impoverished country is a formidable task.
Whatever the underlying causes of the present conditions in Germany may be, the economic as well as the political situation makes it imperative for the United States to tighten rather than to relinquish control.
Now that their early illusions about Germany have burst like bubbles, seasoned Military Government officials realize that it was anything but a snap judgment when one of the most brilliant soldier-statesmen of American history remarked in an off-therecord press conference four years ago: “Anybody who believes that we can re-educate the Germans in less than fifty years is a fool.”