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The New International, February 1947



Correspondence ...

[On Germany]


From The New International, Vol. 13 No. 2, February 1947, p. 64.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


We are printing below the significant sections of a letter received by one of our contributors – a letter we believe our readers will find of interest. The writer is a young woman, a German student and intellectual who came to maturity during the period of Nazi power and its decline. It goes without saying that The New International is in disagreement with many of the conceptions expressed, conceptions which reveal a strong “hangover” of Nazi indoctrination against the “Slavic races,” as well as confused and illusory conceptions regarding the role of America in Europe. But it is precisely this confusion that has value in revealing the nature of the nationalist sentiments that are making inroads upon broad layers of the German people. Finally, as a passionate portrayal of what the conquest and humiliation of Germany has meant to its people this letter has a value and authenticity of its own. – Editor


November 29, 1946

Dear Friend:

Please do not be angry with me for starting this letter with “dear friend.” But ever since I read Henry Judd’s article I know that you understand Europe and Germany in all its misery – and therefore, I regard YOU as one of my friends!

For you see, S.: when you left in October 1945, Germany was not as hopeless by far as it is today, and Germany’s population was not as disappointed and filled with hate as it is today!

To be sure: you will find even in Germany people with whom you can have pleasant conversations – you will meet people who are decent and who have principles, But as soon as you say that you’re an American, these people will expect something from you cigarettes, food, clothes, things like that. For it is this that is so horrible: the foreigner is no longer regarded as a human being, but rather as a sort of Santa Claus, who simply has to bring presents. And perhaps you will also meet people who will approach you scornfully at first, who will see in you just the American, the American of the occupying power. America has made enormous mistakes, mistakes for which we all might yet have to pay. And about that, S., I want to talk with you a little more, for you are the only foreigner with whom I can discuss today’s problems with complete frankness.

I was surprised, above all, that in America the newspapers speak about the difficult political situation so fearlessly. I appreciated very much the twelve American papers you sent. Yes, – they seem to understand the unhappy European situation in America. But the tragedy lies in the fact that America must share responsibility for this state of affairs.

The good the weapons of the American soldiers could have brought was completely destroyed by the politicians who followed. It would have been possible for America, through her soldiers and the superiority of her weapons, to liberate all of Europe from the pest of Nazism. But what, today, has happened to this “liberation”? America’s politicians behaved themselves like unrestrained children: they indiscriminately gave away the treasures they had won, and, like little boys, were overjoyed when people said “thank you” to them. How, again, did the American Volkszeitung put it? “... Breslau and Stettin Polish? Of that not even the craziest among the crazy Polish chauvinists had ever dared to dream ....” And yet, that has come about! Let us never forget that America won the war for Europe: America, all alone, defeated Nazism for the Western states. For England, France, Norway, Holland-I do not believe that these states could have won the war without the mighty help of America. But when the American army came to Europe and interfered with European affairs, it also undertook the responsibility to protect Europe’s interests. And how did that work out? Russia owns half of Germany; Poland reigns over Silesia and over large parts of East Prussia: Czechoslovakia, too, casts eyes over the borders. Today, even American political circles recognize the mistakes – recognize, that is, that the whole of European culture is the price they are paying for playing the role of the Great Philanthropist.

Atrocities Continue

To be sure: justice had to come. All thoughtful personsĀ· wanted the states that were destroyed by the Nazi armies to celebrate their rebirth. But National Socialism was fought in order to do away with satanic atrocities, with exploitation and with terror. But what has Poland done – what did the Czechs do? I can’t bear to speak about these things ...

Today, the British and American zones are filled with refugees. Millions had to leave their ancient homes in Silesia, and East Prussia, and in the Sudetenland, They weren’t allowed to carry anything with them at all, except what they could wear on their bodies. And these people now live in the. Western zones, crowded, without clothes, without shelter. Very few among them have employment, for industry is being reduced in all zones, and they can’t do the clean-up work in the destroyed cities because they have no clothes, and because they’re so undernourished that they can’t do heavy physical labor. Hate has blinded these people; they sit together like sardines and one fans the hate of the other. I am really afraid for Europe’s future. Nothing good can come of this – how will it all end?

The common man, the worker, grumbles about the occupying powers: he is furious at the English, French and Americans. But those people who hate not only with their hearts but also with their brains, direct their attacks against the American policies, not against the American soldier. For these German intellectuals say that since the victory of the Western powers was accomplished only through the help of America, America is damn well obligated to take a stand for the interests of Europe. And if Europe’s downfall is assured, then there certainly was no need for the Americans to come all the way across the ocean just to hasten this downfall!

Henry Judd writes in his article that it were best if America would end her occupation. To that I say: no! Now that the danger from the East is greater than ever before, now that the more than eighty million are crowded into a tiny space, without being able to find the necessities of life, at a time like this America cannot recall her occupation. That would only increase her debt immeasurably! Through the weak, the wavering, and the timid policies of the Western powers, the Slavonic peoples were enabled to get their hand at the wheel of European history. And if America now withdraws because she can no longer control the situation (which, after all, she herself has created with her policies), she will certainly not have fulfilled her mission! – Let’s not talk about this any further. I just wanted to tell you honestly what is going on in Europe because I don’t want to feel obliged to lie to you about it.

I myself am not as depressed and hopeless as the others are. I’ll get through somehow – I have my profession, and, in the end, it always depends on the person himself, on the attitude he takes toward things. And I’m not afraid – there’ll always be a way for the individual. Some day, possibly, I may go abroad. Who knows? I may yet be successful and get out of Germany. I read quite a bit, and I try to gain enough knowledge so that even abroad they’ll have to recognize me. That is all.

Don’t be angry dear friend, that I have written so frankly about Europe. It’s not a country that is guilty. What is to be held responsible, rather, are its current politics – and these politics are not eternal. My very best to you, S. Will you write? In gratitude.



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