University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

United States. Office of the US High Commissioner for Germany / Germany's parliament in action; the September 1949 debate on the government's statement of policy
([1950])

Schäfer, Hermann
Comment on the statement of policy of the German federal chancellor delivered in the Bundestag on 21 September 1949 by Dr. Hermann Schäfer of the Free Democratic Party,   pp. 46-51


Page 46

Comment on the Statement of Policy of the German Federal Chancellor
delivered in the Bundestag on 21 September 1949 by
Dr. Hermann Schaifer of the Free Democratic Party
(Freie Demokratische Partei - FDP)
COMPLEXITY OF SITUATION
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Yesterday the Federal 'Chancellor opened his dec-
laration by pointing to the historical importance of
this juncture, to the repercussions that will follow
in the wake of these days when a new 'German ship
of state is being launched. Such a moment in his-
tory implies a special responsibility and obligation.
It means also that from the very start we have to
be conscious of the conditions and restrictions
under which the government will be able to func-
tion. The whole situation cannot be boiled down
to oversimplified concepts. The aims we propose to
achieve cannot be defined by using terms such as
restoration, revolution, and the like; on the con-
trary, hedged in by certain well-defined presupposi-
tions and restrictions, we 'shall have to put the flesh
of political reality upon the bones of the constitu-
tional skeleton provided for in the Basic Law.
ESSENCE OF DEMOCRACY
We are supposed to create a democracy. Democ-
racy neither consists of formal provisions alone,
nor 'of the instrumentalities of tangible power. Its
internal stability and force stems chiefly from con-
vention, tradition, and recognition of rules bind-
inig both sides in political intercourse and political
discussion. The time has come when this should
also imply the necessity of recognizing the positive
value inherent in political discussion and even in
the clash of opinions. In this respect, what holds
true of one's personal life is also true of politics.
Human knowledge grows out of 'discussion, out of
the interplay of views. Thus we gain wider op-
portunities to examine and sharpen our perception,
to give it a final gloss. This is also the purpose of
the discussions we shall carry on in this House.
Through our discussions we must do our part to
consolidate this embryonic State by helping it to
become rooted in the popular mind.
FUNCTION OF THE OPPOSITION
Ladies and gentlemen, our task of making people
visualize political reality does not permit us to sit
back and take it easy where debate is concerned.
The two previous speakers have talked a good deal
about the functions of the Opposition. I do not in-
tend to underestimate these functions. I have just
alluded to their importance when speaking about
the meaning of discussion and the momentum it
provides for increasing and sharpening one's per-
ception. Granting that, I should nevertheless like
to distinguish between two different types of op-
position. There is the type represented by people
who are determined to support the interplay of
democracy and the State, making it a going con-
cern. There is another type, determined to reject
the state as a matter of principle, which has noth-
ing in common with an Opposition concerned with
constructive participation in the development of
political life.
Fellow Representative Dr. Schumacher has just
outlined what he considers the mission of the Op-
46
position and of his Party Faction. Through coopera-
tion, tempered by criticism and by constantly keep-
ing a watchful eye on, the Government and the
coalition parties, he would like gradually to impose
upon them  the Opposition's pattern of thought.
This attempt, ladies and gentlement, can and
should be made. None of us will raise any objec-
tions to it. However, I doubt whether the argu-
menits we have been listening to have strengthened
our conviction that this attempt is being under-
taken in the right way. For what I gathered from
these arguments were quibbles, more or less nega-
tive in nature, and not attempts actually to con-
vince, actually to make it clear to those who are
now the pillars of the Government that they have
to change their ways, or that there are reasons for
departing from the program mapped out by the
Federal Chancellor yesterday.
ABSENCE OF REVOLUTION
Ladies and Gentlemen! We have to start by
bearing in mind one 'basic fact: this new German
democracy was born under an unlucky star because
it is not the outcome of a political revolution
brought about by the initiative of the people them-
selves. This new state was born in the wake of a
military conflict and a military collapse that des-
troyed and upset both the foundations and the
basic structure of political life as it once existed.
In contrast to the situation when the Weimar Re-
public was formed, the Government is now con-
fronted by the necessity of reconstructing the polit-
ical and administrative machinery from the ground
up. It is true that we make use of some begin-
nings and preliminaries. First, the coimnnunities
were reestablished after a fashion, then the Llinder
were formed on the next-higher level, and now this
Federal Republic is about to unite them. All the
same, this state is not yet running like clockwork.
INITIAL TASKS
Ladies and gentlemen, the first conclusion to be
drawn from all this should be to give the Gov-
ernment a few weeks. In that time it could tackle
practical political work and, in the first place, cre-
ate the organizational tools to conduct German
policy with. I believe this work and activity is of
much greater value to the German people than a
multitude of theoretical dialectics designed to; show
how certain decisions might be misinterpreted. Due
to the extraordinary political conditions surround-
ing the birth of this State the Government will
have to take sides in far-reaching conflicts. In its
deliberations it will have to take into account all
those contingencies connected with the Occupation
Statute and the Ruhr Statute.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OCCUPATION POWERS
Ladies and gentlemen, there is just one thing I
should like to point out in this connection. The
spirit in which these so-called Statutes are ad-
ministered will be decisive. Therefore I am very
much concerned that special emphasis should be


Go up to Top of Page