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

Wessel, Helene
Comment on the statement of policy of the German federal government delivered in the Bundestag on 22 September 1949 by Helene Wessel of the Center Party,   pp. 78-84

Page 78

Comment on the Statement of Policy of the German Federal Government
delivered in the Bundestag on 22 September 1949 by
Helene Wessel of the Center Party -(Zentrum)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I take the liberty of commenting on the Govern-
ment's Statement of Policy as spokesman of the
Zentrum (Center Party) Delegation. At the outset
I would like to make it clear that the Zentrum
(Center Party), not being aligned with the gov-
ernmental coalition known as the Small Coalition,
will support all proper and just measures of the
Government, but will reject and combat everything
my political friends and I myself consider to be
improper and unjust from the point of view of
public welfare. We consider it our duty to prevent
arbitrariness and the abuse of power, to advocate
tolerance and respect for the human personality,
freedom and justice. We consider it our task to
serve truth and, if necessary, to expose hidden
forces and trends endangering state and com-
The spokesmen of the party factions in this
House, both those supporting the Government and
those of the Opposition, have expounded their basic
attitudes and their platforms. Their statements
convey the impression that, while holding divergent
ideas, they also have many views in common. We
cannot help feeling that something more all-
embracing than this Small Coalition could have
been achieved, had efforts been made right from
the beginning to search for the common denominator
rather than to dwell on the issues that divide us.
Our common goal is the rebuilding of Germany
with constantly increasing momentum and within
the shortest possible time. To rebuild destroyed
residential districts, to find a solution for the prob-
lem of expellees, to provide social security even
for the most poverty-stricken segments of the
people are necessities no one can refuse to sup-
port, whether he be in the corner of the Govern-
ment or that of the Opposition. Nor can these
necessities be gainsaid by foreign countries. After
the collapse of the cataclysmic policy of National
Socialism we witnessed the behavior and the
attitude of foreign countries towards our people,
their humane relief work that was pointed out by
the Federal Chancellor. We witnessed the aid
rendered by the victor nations and states of this
second world war. In addition to those cited by
the Federal Chancellor - the Red Cross, the Vatican,
the Ecumenical Council in Geneva - we think
there should be mention of the aid given by the
Quakers, the Salvation Army, the Mennonites, the
Scandinavian countries and Switzerland. We should
also think of the assistance given by all those
organizations, and individuals too, who, sometimes
by dint of personal sacrifices, took care of families
in Germany or extended a helping hand to German
relief organizations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is compatible with our
sense of national dignity to be grateful for this
assistance. We should have the courage to defend
this truth even against those Nationalist hot-air
peddlers who are back at the old stand, fatally
distorting the picture which others have of the
German man in the street.
Each one of us knows how difficult it is to re-
construct Germany. The previous speaker has out-
lined how millions of men were, as we know,
deprived of their financial security so that today
they hover barely above the subsistence level. But
as we contemplate all this, we should not forget
what happened during the Hitler war beyond Ger-
many's borders, and what terrible heritage the war
left in its wake elsewhere as well.
This foreign political situation is part and parcel
of the actual situation. It must serve as foundation
stone for the policies pursued by the current crop
of German politicians. Only if they act accordingly,
only if they employ the principles of reciprocity
to induce foreign countries to show adequate
understanding for our circumstances - only then
will they 'be able to conduct a sound foreign policy.
Within the framework of European rehabilitation,
the German people among others was greatly
helped by the Marshall Plan. As far as the Western
hemisphere is concerned, Germany has certainly
reached a milestone on the political highway which
made the creation of this Federal Republic possible.
The impact of the first Federal Government is
beginning to be felt now. It is certainly painful to
know that Germany's sovereignty was restored to
her only subject to  restrictions, which become
evident in the control exercised by the High Com-
missioners. As is well known, the High Commis-
sioners do not limit their supervision to democratic
rehabilitation and to guarantees of peace and
security. The lack of freedom in the field of foreign
trade alone points up -the situation in which Ger-
many finds herself today. None too soon can a
different, a real and lasting order be brought
about. It will be one of Germany's most important
duties in international relations to convince the
victor states of the necessity for a peace treaty
with Germany.
Ladies and gentlemen, more than fifty-two
months have gone by since the cease-fire sounded,
and de jure we are still in a state of war. One
conference has followed another, but the problem
of Germany could not be settled. Everything
is tentative, nothing has been decided. But every-
one feels that a decision is pressing if Europe shall
recover and put its home in order. It is the tragedy
of the European situation that the Third Reich
managed 'to entangle all Europe in its downfall.
Together with Germany, Europe has been dragged
to the brink of the abyss and is today dependent
on America's help. That is what has rendered the
solution of the German problem so difficult. Take
our own foreign policy. We see ourselves faced
with the necessity of fitting ourselves into this
world political situation, of considering the German
question in this context. That question can only
be solved within the framework of Europe, unless
we want to adopt the 'belief that we must cut
ourselves off from Europe. So it should be among
the most important duties of this Government,
especially in view of the complexion of the Cabinet

Go up to Top of Page