Willi Frischauer is an Austrian newspaperman, now living in London, who was formerly an assistant editor in Vienna. He cabled this article just before the death of Hitler was announced,
LONDON (By cable)—There’s a story that during the Yalta Conference Marshal Stalin stated his intention of installing Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus, leading member of the Moscow Committee of Free Germans, as head of a postwar German Government. President Roosevelt and Primo Minister Churchill are reported, to have replied with one voice, “We prefer General Eisenhower.”
There is no evidence to suggest that this is more than an apocryphal story but it is an acknowledged fact that the question of a future democratic anti-Nazi government for Germany figured largely in the discussions of the Big Three before victory.
On the eve of Allied victory, preparations for administration of conquered German territory, entrusted to the Allied Control Commission on which Britain, America ançl Russia collaborate, didn’t extend beyond a purely local sphere. But experiences of the AMG—Allied Military Government — and subsequent investigations by leading members of the Control Commission resulted in the realization that, sooner rather than later, extensive use would have to be made of German elements to implement Allied instructions and that the time was fast approaching when measures would have to be taken on a regional if not national German scale. That would obviously involve investing Germans with wider authority than was originally envisaged. The search was on for a democratic successor to Hitler—or three successors for the three major occupation zones into which Germany is heing divided.
The Russians were the first to move in this direction. In fact they began to prepare for this contingency as far back as July, 1943, when 30Vtet troops were still busy killing Germans deep ’ inside Russia. It was at this time that seemingly incongruous Russian broadcasts in the German language unequivocally announced that “Germany must live” and that Pravda, the Kremlin organ, devoted its front page to an announcement by the "Moscow Committee of Free Germany," an organization of German anti-Nazis in Russia, who preached substantially the same political doctrine.
The Moscow Committee soon assumed the functions of an exile German Government and its reputation was enhanced when another German organization, the “Union of German Officers," recruited from captured Germans in Russian prison camps, was affiliated with it and joined in its widespread activities.
The leaders of these two organizations came to be regarded as Stalin’s possible choice far an anti-Nazi government in Germany. The Moscow Committee’s chairman is Erich Weinert, left-wing Berlin intellectual, who used to recite his own poems in west-end cabarets and filled in his time with fiery appeals to the German working class. With Weinert in Moscow—-or already back in Germany—are Wilhelm Pieck, former Communist
deputy of the pre-Hitler German Reichstag, who was an official of the Comintern, and two Communist fellow deputies, Walter Ulbricht and Wilhelm Florin.
Any one of them may be chosen by Stalin to occupy the chair which the Nazi Government has involuntarily vacated. They may be joined or even superseded by leading figures of the Union of German Officers. The first administrative place among the officers is held by General Walter vop Seydlitz, who was captured at Stalingrad, and Field Marshal von Paulus, commander-in-chief of the German forces vanquished at Stalingrad.
By their side, if Stalin so decides, we shall find the “glamour boy” of the Moscow Germans, young Lieut. Count Heinrich von Einsidel, a Luftwaffe fighter pilot, who, when shot down by the Russians, revealed himself not only as an ardent anti-Nazi but also as a grandson of Germany’s “Iron Chancellor,” Bismarck. His name has been used extensively in Russian propaganda addressed to Germany during the war’s final stages.
It is, however, no secret that such Ruasian plans as may revolve around the Moscow Germans aren’t looked on favorably by the Western Allies, who have reserved scarcely one place for German exiles in their plans for the administration of Germany.
While members of the Moscow Committee are already reported active in eastern Germany, where the writ of the Soviet Army runs, the Western Allies have chiefly relied on small teams of AMG officers and men to administer conquered German towns. In increasing numbers these teams were forced to call on the active assistance of such Germans as they found in each locality. And it is from these Germans that the first post-Hitler German administrations in western Germany up to the Elbe are beginning to emerge.
However, it has proven difficult to find enough Germans willing and capable to collaborate,once all those compromised by Nazi affiliations have been eliminated. Much against their will, according to their own admissions, Allied military authorities were frequently forced to close one eye — or both — when selecting efficient German assistants for local administration.
That’s how the matter stood on the eve of victory and there was no immediate prospect that the procedure could he altered without major political decisions on the highest plane. It was, it must be emphasized, a purely local solution, because until early May the conquering Western Allies hadn’t found a single anti-Nazi German of any political stature alive in Germany. They could only hope that successive purges of German democratic and anti-Nazi elements ordered and carried out by Heinrich Himmler on the eve of defeat may have by-passed at least a few of the prominent acceptable Germans who were last known to be living in Germany.
AMONG them religious leaders took precedence , over all others and it was envisaged that one of them might be found who would be able to play a part in Germany similar to that assigned Archbishop Damaskinos in Greece. Such a role could be admirably filled hy Martin Niemoeller, Protestant pastor and inveterate opponent and long-.time prisoner of Hitler. There are other Protestant clerics regarded as eligible for a similar part if still found alive.
But even greater are the chances of members of the Catholic clergy in Germany, among whom the aged, but still vigorous and certainly fearless and uncompromised, Continued on page 57
Continued on page 57
Moscow has organized a German Committee, while the Western Powers have been depending on liberated democratic Germans— and they’re hard to find
Continued from page 6
Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich stands out. Cardinal Faulhaber has frequently preached against Nazism, against the evil doctrine of force, against Hitler’s thesis that man supersedes God in his Third Reich. He has numerous followers, particularly in Bavaria and other Catholic státes of Germany. Count Preysing, the Bishop of Berlin, ranks not far below him in this respect. Count Galen, Bishop of Munster, and other bishops of Germany are expected to contribute greatly to Allied attempts to bring order into the political and material chaos reigning in Germany in the hour of defeat.
There are, however, no experienced leading politicians of the German antiNazi camp still alive. The mass purge at Buchenwald concentration camp three months ago—the Nazis blamed an Allied air raid for the 7,000 deaths that all but wiped out the remaining German democratic elements—was explicitly designed to eliminate possible successors to Hitler and his gang. There may emerge from the liberated concentration camps a few minor administrators still strong enough or sufficiently recovered to assist the Allies in the difficult tasks of administration, but unless some great new figure rises to the occasion, those of us best acquainted with pre-Hitler political talent in Germany despair of hope that a true leader could be among them.
Living in Allied countries as refugees are quite a few Germans, veteran antiNazis, for whom a great political future may be in store if they choose to assist the Allies to lead their fellow countrymen back toward democracy. If you ask any “Free” German in London or Washington who is the most prominent non-Nazi German in the world he will almost certainly mention Dr. Thomas Mann, the great author, who left Germany of his own accord when he found freedom of thought denied to even such a “true Aryan” as himself. Not originally a politician, Mann lately has published quite a few profound political observations which alone would qualify him for leadership if he were called on to assume it.
By a curious coincidence it was his
daughter Erika, now wife of the British poet, Wystan Auden, who, when visiting occupied Germany as an American war correspondent, found disillusioned Wehrmacht prisoners expressing the hope that Dr. Heinrich Bruening, ex-Chancellor of Germany and now professor at Harvard University, might return to Germany to assume Hitler’s succession. Bruening, a Catholic German politician of the moderate Right, would command a certain following, yet in over 12 years of exile he hasn’t given any hint he might be prepared to return to active politics.
There are other Germans who, one way or another, have staked their claim more vigorously, among them aged Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, who lived in Italy throughout the war and quickly went to Rome when his residence was “liberated” by the advancing Allies. There he soon plunged into consultations with high Vatican authorities who are said to advocate establishment of a Catholic secession state in southern Germany to include Bavaria and Austria. As the last in the line of the Bavarian royal family, the Wittelsbachs, Rupprecht believes his political fortunes are favored by a bright and powerful star.
From among German royalty another candidate may appear to stake a claim in Germany. He is the young Prince Frederic of Prussia, grandson of the ex-Kaiser, who was voluntarily caught in England by the outbreak of war and has served in the British Army. He has powerful friends who envisage at least that at some future date he may play a useful part in the restoration of Germany. In spite of that I don’t rate his chances very high. There are others who could convince the Allies their services would be more effective.
Among them is Albert Grezsinski, former Prussian Minister of the Interior; Dr. Treviranus, a member of Dr. Bruening’s Cabinet; Prince Hubertus von Loewenstein, Catholic democratic statesman; Dr. Horst Baerensprung, once police president of Madgeburg. They’re all in the running for whatever big political jobs are open to German exiles and are watching events closely from the United States and Canada.
Canada has been the wartime home of Otto Strasser, brother of Gregor, Hitler’s onetime second in command and rival for Nazi party leadership, who was murdered in the 1934 purge. Otto Strasser has often hinted at a
following inside Germany but no concrete evidence of it has ever come to the notice of authoritative Allied quarters. Neither do democratic Germans believe his original political record would qualify him for a part in a new and democratic Germany. The latter objection applies also to Dr. Hermann Rauschning, whose revelations about Hitler were extremely useful but could only have been obtained by one once closely associated with the Nazi clique. No such persons can ever hope to receive the Allied blessing.
The Allied blessing—this is the operative phrase in any considered attempt to search for a possible successor to Hitler. As far as the Western Allies are concerned, they don’t anticipate that any German inside or outside Germany could be invested with real authority within a measurable space of time. Neither, as things are, could any German hope to assume leadership, however limited, without Allied consent and active support.
If, therefore, we want to guess at the personal and political features of Hitler’s democratic successor we must watch the great Allies, who alone can choose and install the German to whom it will fall to restore his country to the brotherhood of civilized nations.
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