What To Do With Germany ?
"A lasting peace, like a lasting regime, cannot be based on force, power and terror...Hitler proved that"_Rauschning
In its Jan. 1 issue Maclean's published under the title, “Crush Germany ... Or Else!” an article, by Rt. Hon. Lord Vansittart in which he urged ruthless control by force of a number of vital aspects of German life as the only means of achieving permanent peuce in Europe. In the following article Dr. Hermann Rauschning, former president of the Danzig senate and author of “The Revolution of Nihilism” explains why he believes force alone will not cure Germany. Other views on the vital question of the treatmen t of Germany will be published from time to time.—TheEditors.
THE coming peace will be of doubtful quality and duration if we consider as the main peace problem the destruction of the political and economic might of the nations which today are totalitarian and tomorrow will be defeated. The motives for civil wars and revolutions would remain even if Germany were wiped from the face of the earth.
Security and the possibility of a lasting peace do not depend so much on guarantees that there will not be a renewal of German militarism and “will to power," as on the political and economic structure of postwar Europe.
This does not mean that National Socialism and militarism should not be destroyed. Not at all. Hut it does mean that disciplinary measures against the conquered nations are less important than is generally believed. Peace can be made secure only by a real solution of the problems which existed before the war.
The ruthless terror and oppression used by the Nazis have made people forget that there has been a revolutionary. core to the political development of Europe during the last 10 years. Even in 1933, when the London Conference on World Economy met unsuccessfully in England, Europe was in a state of prerevolutionary unrest. Neither the exigencies of war nor Allied victories have solved the pressing economic, social and political problems which existed then. Is peace to bring only a return to conditions as they were at the time of the London Conference?
The German problem is only one strand in a great complex skein. Nazi imperialism and totalitarianism are merely symptoms not the causes of the great world crisis.
To remove the symptoms, however drastically, does not solve the crisis. All those questions of a re-education of the German people which occupy the public mind today whether Germany can ever be admitted into the community of free nations or must remain the eternal rebel and barbarian; whether an “unsentimental” policy of revenge or a “sentimental" policy of reconciliation is best; whether a joint intervention policy or a joint nonintervention policy should be followed; whether Germany should be dismembered, occupied for decades, quarantined and allowed to stew in her own juice -all these are beside the main issue.
The decisive question is: If Germany is weakened territorially, if her industries are destroyed, if she is crippled intellectually, will all this secure a lasting peace, or will it just punish Germany? If our aim is to be permanent peace, then mere punishment based on force would be useless, no matter how successful it would be as revenge. A lasting peace, like a lasting regime, cannot be based on force, power and terror. Hitler’s experiment has once again proved this. It would be folly to try to prove the contrary even for the sake of peace.
If Germany is weakened territorially in order to obtain political and economic superiority for future
federations in Europe -for example, if east Prussia, opper Silesia and parts of Pomerania would be given to Poland, other parts of Saxony to Czechoslovakia, the left bank of the Rhine to France, Bavaria and other parts of south Germany to Austria—the result would be only new sources of political unrest, and the German people would carry the germs of all kinds of anarchist revolutionism within themselves. It would be similar to the case of Poland, which the fathers of the conservative peace of the Congress of Vienna neglected to restore as an independent state. As a result Poland poisoned European politics throughout the nineteenth century.
Even the milder form of weakening Germany—that of splitting her into a few sovereign states—would lead to political troubles and complications. A breaking up of the German Reich into several states; i.e., a return to conditions as they existed in the first half of the nineteenth century, would be an anachronism of the worst kind.
Monarchy Out of the Question
SPECULATIONS about a possible restoration of the German ducal dynasties are equally senseless. A German monarchy might have had a chance had it been able to prevent this war and guarantee the restoration of a free and lawful life after the removal of National Socialism. To think of a monarchy after this war is simply nonsense.
Peace does not depend on machinery, institutions, and agreements—it depends on individuals. The real question is: can the German people be persuaded to co-operate in the family of nations? If Germans are paranoiac, eternal barbarians, chronically athirst for power (as is frequently asserted with more zeal than historic judgment by many critics) then the answer is: The re-education of Germany and her return to democracy must originate in the German people itself, in their own thinking, their own inward conversion. There is every reason to expect that this can happen. Nations, like individuals, learn from painful experience only.
I believe the defeats and destruction of this war, the enormous bloodshed, will influence the German character so fundamentally that a genuine and sincere change, an inner purification, will result from it. External pressure would only disturb and obstruct this process. The danger of a resurrection of the Hitler myth ia a real one only if, under the pressure of
political and economic foreign domination, Germans are deprived of a normal life, which is indispensable to all nations.
True, peace of moderation—after all the havoc wrought by war—would impose on the victors an enormous amount of self-discipline. It would be impossible to expect it immediately after the horror of the final debacle. A long cooling-off period will be necessary. This period will also be necessary in order to give Europe a basis for her economic future, uninfluenced by the special desires of any national group.
Consideration of “What to do with Germany?” moreover, must not be allowed to divert attention from the enormously grave decisions which the Allies will have to make in respect of the problem of establishing a stable peace for Europe as a whole, which really means the finding of some workable solution of the world crisis of which I have already spoken.
Fundamentally these decisions will have to be based on one of two alternate approaches. Either there must be a “conservative” solution; that is, a return to pre-war conditions, or a “revolutionary” one.
Many liberals consider the revolutionary solution the only basis of a lasting peace, and there is no doubt that the basic conditions for such now exist in Europe. You could even say that it is the logical development of present conditions in Europe, and one which presents the fewest obstacles. Most European countries certainly seem to be ripe for a revolution.
THE removal of the pre-war social order in European countries will be hastened during the last phase of the war. In Germany itself the so-called Junker and German industrial leaders have compromised themselves by their association with the Nazis, thus losing any chances of postwar leadership. In the German-occupied territories most of the ruling conservative elements have similarly jeopardized their political future by their co-operation with Hitler and his gang.
Europe’s leading industrial enterprises have already been nationalized by the Nazis. Private property and private initiative practically no longer exist in German-controlled Europe. The industrial districts— if they are still standing after the war—could be nationalized into a federation of socialist republics of Europe with little difficulty. The whole machinery set up by Germany for the maintenance of her war effort could be transformed into a central planning office for the production of consumer goods for the European republics. The present state control machinery which directs German agriculture and that of the occupied countries could be used without difficulty for the collectivization of all European agriculture without absorbing the small independent farmers.
Again, we must remember that the employment of more than 10 million nonGerman workers in Germany has produced a tremendous intermixture of nationalities. The common bonds of the hatred of these workers for the ruling class and its terror troops may have the psychological effect of creating workers’ states of mixed nationalities, in which national differences will belong to the prejudices of yesterday.
If it is true that among Tito’s Partisans in Jugoslavia, Italians and even Austrians fight side-by-side with Serbs and Croates, this may well be a harbinger of things to come. National resentment, hate, and the desire for revenge are today in Europe being submerged in the common fight for liberation from the ruling class. Just as before the war the masses of Europe had conquered their national pre-
judices and were ready for a European community of interests, so the desire for a community of interests may well burst forth again during the last phase of the war.
Without going into the details of such a development, there would seem on the face of it to be a simple and clear answer to the question of how to solve the German problem. After the removal of the guilty groups and classes Germany, either as a unit or through each of her individual states, would become a member with equal rights of the union of socialist European republics. The question of boundaries would be comparatively easy, since the ethnographic frontiers could be used. Military and economic considerations would not influence the setup of frontiers within the union.
Has this solution any chance of realization? And from the point of view of the United States, Great Britain, or even Russia, would it be desirable?
A socialist European federation would form the nucleus of a new world power, and the special political and economic interests of Europe could easily produce new nationalism among the European masses, a new European chauvinism, a new European militarism. After a short while it would represent itself as a fourth or fifth great power, creating a new “balance of power” problem, with its risks to future peace.
It is doubtful whether even the Soviet Union would welcome such a development. In the sphere of power politics Russia would find itself confronted with an equal adversary. The revival of nationalism in the Soviet Union and Russia’s trend toward a new world imperialism seem now so strongly developed that even a common social order would not overcome the conflict of interests in the field of power politics. Moreover it must be supposed that a radical socialist revolution in Europe would be along the lines of the first period of the Russian revolution, predominantly Trotskyist in its temper. From the standpoint of Russia’s domestic politics this would be an undesirable complication.
But however strong the political and emotional drive behind the revolutionary movements may be, the decisive factors seem to be against this revolutionary solution of the postwar European problem. Through military occupation the three great powers would be in a position to force a different course of action which, on the whole, would be welcomed by the majority of the Europeans who, I believe, do not wish new revolutionary crises and fights, but quiet and recovery.
Thus it seems the probable course of action would be the conservative not the revolutionary one. One should not be startled by the word “conservative” as employed here—it is used in the sense the Allies have apparently attached to it in practice: the avoidance of anarchic or chaotic conditions through the restoration of legal and constitutional procedures. However it does not mean the restoration of the privileges of the old ruling classes, but merely the restoration of a legal order destroyed by force or conquest. This is apparently what the Allies are trying to do in Italy.
What are the dangers of a conservative peace? In the first place there is the chance that a reactionary order would be restored, that the Allies would be unable to resist the temptation to revive political and economic conditions which have become antiquated by the avalanche of events of the last decade. A second danger is the further encouragement of European nationalisms, which have already been exaggerated by the war and Nazi occupation. Military defeat of Germany will not by itself remove the political dynamite of excessive nationalism. The greatest danger, however, lies in the possible degeneration of Europe into a mass of conflicting units.
WITHOUT any doubt one lasting result of World War II will be the demonstration that no single European power can claim world leadership. Actually there is not a European power left which can even claim equality as a great world power with the new “Big Four.” Each one, including France and Italy, has been reduced to the status of a secondary power.
Under a conservative peace, with its tendency to break Europe up into individual units, Europe would become almost a pawn of the international politics of the real great powers. It is possible that she would no longer be her own master, but instead become a vast buffer state between rivalling world powers. Some day this would unquestionably cause new conflicts.
Foreseeing this danger the Allies would probably
try to forestall it, first by setting up a new League of
Nations in which every country would have an equal
status; and second, by establishing a new balance of
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power within western Europe (Russia excluded) in the form of federations of states. By means of these federations the political power of its members might be raised to a status more equal to the world powers. These federations would be equal or superior to Germany, whereas before the war the various individual states were inferior. As a double insurance against Germany’s will to power breaking out agam, these federations of states might be of value.
But in my opinion it is probable that the idea of federations in Europe belongs to a form of political life which has become historically antiquated. A Danube federation, a “Latin federation,” a federation of Poland with the Baltic States, a Nordic-Dutch-Belgian federation, a Balkan federation—these would have been effective barriers to World War I. After World War II, however, these federations would be economically unsound, because they would erect barriers in just those places where we would find the possibility of effective co-operation, and prevent a bridging of Europe’s rivalries through the mutual hard work for the common economic well-being. A return to systems of national economy, even with larger, more economically balanced units, fails to take into account that such systems are also always the sources of new conflicts.
It must be admitted, therefore, that such a conservative solution of the German problem would he much more difficult than the revolutionary solution.
All of which emphasizes that it is in the economic field that peace must be and can be effectively obtained. InterEuropean rivalries and the misuse of economic resources for military purposes can best be prevented by the economic co-operation of the whole of western Europe. This would embrace not only a common currency and a customs union, but also a system of joint control by all the nations of heavy industry, transportation and power, ports and maritime routes, raw materials, production, etc.
Ownership would be shared equally by private capital and the Governments of the participating countries. The latter would have nonnegotiable shares. By combining private initiative with public control these corporations would be free from exploitation or misuse by any single nation or private group.
The inclusion of Germany in this system of international corporation and thus in a closely knit community of European interests would be less a privilege than a control measure against a misuse of her industrial potential for armament purposes.
Moreover the unification of the
economic machinery brought about in western Europe by the total war economy of National.Socialism would be utilized rather than destroyed. This would prevent the dangerous trend toward new national economic systems leaning toward protectionism and state capitalism.
No Melting Pot
The validity of a restorative peace will lie in the degree to which it conserves the creative values of European nationalism while damping the explosive character of political nationalism. The melting pot pattern of the United States cannot occur in Europe; nor is Europe fertile soil for unification on the pattern of the Soviet Union. A federation of European nations into supernational political units is unsufficient and antiquated. The logical answer is a free national life and political administration, but close economic co-operation throughout western and middle Europe.
This plan would harmonize the fights of nation against nation, which until now have tortured Europe, and provides a constructive solution of the German problem.
Not only Germany but almost all other European nations will be handicapped by a lack of organization necessary to bring order out of chaos after the war. The liberation of the occupied countries will bring about clashes caused by the differences between the respective Governments in exile and their countries’ underground movements, which have had to bear the brunt of the oppressors’ burden.
In Germany the new leadership must be found among those who have remained in the country and offered the staunchest resistance to Nazism, such as the Christian groups and the once organized workers, rather than among those who left the country after Nazism appeared.
One possibility of how the war will end cannot be disregarded. The Nazis’ will to resist to the bitter end should not be underestimated. Fear of punishment, the certainty of losing everything, the refusal of the Allies to negotiate with the German generalsemdash; these are all motives for a resistance which makes even the unbearable, bearable.
The final phase of the war will be the most bloody and destructive. The Nazis’ ultimate defiance will be the progressive destruction of Europe during a slow retreat, so that the victims may demand a compromise in order to avoid complete destruction of their national life.
Unless the strategy of the Allies counteracts this plan by an overwhelming attack from all sides at the same time, the extent of destruction will be so enormous that nobody will be able or courageous enough to oppose the total destruction of Germany, a destruction which will have all the characteristics of primitive revenge and punishment. Europe will not be saved by this destruction. Hate, apathy, nonco-operation, envy, and panic would make Europe the deathbed of western civilization.
A struggle to the final and bitter end would be a desperate and suicidal undertaking for Germany. The Allies have the responsibility of creating the psychological groundwork for shortening the war. A choice between a peace sparing the world the spectre of utter destruction and a battle of despair leading it into chaos will make acceptance of that responsibility comparatively easy. The political weapon of the National Socialist system is menace and terror. In the arsenal of the Allies belongs-emdash;even for use against the enemyemdash;H OPE.