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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])

Edert, Eduard
Comment on the statement of policy of the German federal government delivered in the Bundestag on 22 September 1949 by Dr. Eduard Edert,   pp. 92-93


Page 92

Comment on the Statement of Policy of the German Federal Government
delivered in the Bundestag on 22 September 1949 by
Dr. Eduard Edert (non-partisan) *)
THE SCHLESWIG GERMANS AND SSW
Ladies and Gentlemen:
May I, as the German representative of Flens-
burg, the citadel of the Danish movement, the
town ruled to this day by a Danish lord mayor
and a predominantly Danish city administration,
have your permission to discuss the statements
made by the honorable member, my neighbor in
this House, who preceded me at the rostrum.
Herr Clausen stated that he is interested in im-
plementing the right of self-determination, and
especially in bringing about the administrative
separation of Schleswig and Holstein. We Germans
do not consider this demand as primarily an ad-
minstrative measure. We have reason to believe
that it is the first step on the road to final
annexation. The speeches and meetings of SSW
(South Schleswig Electoral League) have forced us
to conclude that the ultimate goal of this South
Schleswig movement isi a separatist one. That
emerges from the petition presented to the Allies
by SSW last May, and from many speeches made
by the leaders of this party. In actual fact, all
major political meetings in Schleswig are more or
less keynoted by the slogan: Back into the Danish
Kingdom! We Germans from all German parties,
however, believe the present border to be the final
solution. It was determined by the plebiscite of
1920 which, after all, took place under Allied
control. It took place under conditions that were
as unfavorable to Germany as possible, imme-
diately after the first war we lost. At that time
at least thirty thousand Germans remained as a
minority in Denmark, and about seven or eight
thousand Danes stayed in Germany. Both were
genuine minorities whose numbers hardly changed
in the years from 1920 to 1945.
THE SCHLESWIG GERMANS AND DENMARK
Ladies and gentlemen, the fixity of this Northern
border was never in doubt, in Germany or in
Denmark. Even Hitler did not change it. When the
Danish Diet met for its first plenary session after
the collapse of 1945, the Danish Minister of State
Buhl declared solemnly: the border is final. We
hoped that this spelled the permanent end of the
old struggle between the two neighbors.
But what happened in Schleswig between 1945
and the present time, the developments termed by
the Danes a re-awakening of dormant Danish
national feeling, has little bearing on a conflict of
nationalities as it is usually understood. We see
it essentially as a consequence of the lost war, of
the spiritual collapse, of the escape from the
responsibilities all Germans must assume, of the
escape from the misery of Germany into a country
where milk and honey are supposed to flow.
*) To present a united front against the Danish-minded
part of the local population and prevent a splitting-up
of the German vote, the German political parties in
Flensburg selected Dr. Edert as a non-partisan unity
candidate. After his election, he joined the CDU/CSU
Faction as a guest member (Hospitant).
Two or three figures furnish striking proof of
this. The number of the old Danish minority was
estimated at 8000. On 1 January 1946 it jumped to
11 800, and by 1 July 1947, that is to say in one
year and a half, to 75 000 members. The number
of Danish votes amounted to a little more than
1300 in the whole Duchy of Schleswig at the last
secret elections in 1932. In 1947 it increased to
99000. In the meantime it dwindled to 92000 in
1948 and to 75 000 in 1949. The number of Danish
schools rose from 13 to 66, that of Danish teachers
from 24 to 217, that of pupils from 800 to 14 000 -
and all that in two years! No one will believe that
such a sudden change of mind stems from a change
of nationality. The great Danish historian Aage
Friis commented on these figures not long ago
with the remark that no Dane and no German
changes his whole outlook on life overnight. This
South Schleswig movement     people in our area
call them the "New Danes" -still lacks any inner
relationship to Danish language and culture. It
intends to acquire this culture in future. They
speak German at their meetings. Their election
posters are in German. It is a movement about
which another Dane, Nis Nissen, once remarked:
"Its goal is not to join Denmark but to leave
Germany."
THE ISSUES
The attitude of Germans of all parties towards
the border problem is clear 'nd unequivocal. We
will grant the genuine Danish minority all cultural
rights, hoping that the same rights will be accorded
to the sorely afflicted German minority in North
Schleswig.
We are not opposed to the official Denmark.
We acknowledge with gratitude that the present
Minister President Hedtoft himself is not interested
in the territorial demands of the Danish activists.
We Germans at the border urgently wish for peace
with Denmark. We Germans have Daid in blood
for an excess of nationalistic thinking. We stand
at the threshold of a new Europe. Because of these
reasons the old dispute with the Nordic neighbor,
who is so closely related to us, seems to us obsolete.
The dispute has been imposed on us by the
nationalism that swept across the border from the
north. It is our opinion that borders should be
bridged, not moved.
We defend ourselves against the Danish nation-
alists located north of the border - the Danish
Border Association alone has 200 000 members
but especially against our own compatriots south
of the border. They fall into two classes. There are
those who have succumbed to a misunderstood
ideology. And there are the others who believe that,
by becoming part of Denmark, they can escape
the tremendous economic misery of our Land, the
shortage of elbow room, the overcrowding and the
gigantic unemployment resulting therefrom. In the
districts represented by me and the honorable
member who preceded me at the rostrum, the
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