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United States. Office of the US High Commissioner for Germany / A program to foster citizen participation in government and politics in Germany

II. Program plans,   p. 7 PDF (672.9 KB)

Page 7

The following subdivisions set forth a statement
of the problem in each of the eleven fields into
which the program is divided, our objectives in
those fields, and a statement of the progress
made to May 1950. This is followed by an outline
of the action planned to July 1951. As already
stated, the outline of planned action is not in-
tended to present the details of the operating pro-
gram, which must be developed in relation to the
situation as it exists in various fields from time
to time, and which in many cases involves co-
ordination and collaboration with other HICOG
elements at the headquarters, Land and local
Unless otherwise noted, the comment on "prog-
ress" is limited to the U.S. Zone because we do
not have sufficient information about developments
in the French and British Zones. Similarly, as to
"planned action", it is predicated upon existing or
prospective German organizations and activities in
the U.S. Zone and appropriate action by the
HICOG organization. It is hoped to work out a
common program in the three Zones, with agree-
ment upon cooperative action and an interchange
of materials. Since plans are not yet formulated
for each individual program item, the general plan
is set out in Part III, subd. 6.
Generally no special mention is made in the
program of work with women's and youth or-
ganizations. Nevertheless, in each field it is in-
tended to take special account of these factors.
There are two reasons. One is that the devel-
opment in these organizations of an informed in-
terest in public affairs has not progressed as far as
in the organizations where men play the predom-
inant role. The second is that women have a
numerical majority in Germany, and that youth
represents a potent force for good or bad depend-
ing on the direction in which this force is oriented.
Throughout the program items mention is made
of pamphlets to be issued. It should be understood
that these are of German origin except for three
translations adapted to German conditions.
There is a widespread lack of knowledge and in-
terest in political and governmental affairs
among the German people. The party and
political systems have developed so as to min-
imize general public participation and influence.
Officials and legislators have felt too little
direct responsibility to their constituents. Means
for the development and expression of public opin-
ion have been inadequate, and it has been of lim-
ited importance. The concept in our word "citizen"
- the individual as a participant in community
and state, with well-developed rights and obliga-
tions - is too little understood.
To aid those Germans who seek individually or
through organized groups:
(1) to develop an interest among citizens in the
study of or participation in public affairs;
(2) to develop and use public opinion in support
of democratic improvements in government and
(3) to create active understanding of the rights
and obligations of the individual as a citizen to-
ward his community and his state.
(4) to bring German youth and women into the
movement as active participants.
There has been considerable progress in this
field. A substantial number of citizens' and com-
munity groups have been organized under Ger-
man auspices. Forums have been held on the
initiative of Kreis Resident Officers or the
"Amerika-Haeuser". The interest of participants
has been aroused, and in a limited number of local-
ities has resulted in citizen demand for participa-
tion in local government activities, the right to at-
tend and be heard at local council meetings, the
right to have reports from local officials, and
public support of civic improvements.
On the whole, however, citizens' groups have
been more active in the cultural and welfare fields
than in public affairs. Comparatively few of them
are organized for action or have any specific pro-
gram in the field of government and politics or for
developing practical community responsibility. They
represent too small a proportion of the population,
and they are not yet so well established that they
could survive without outside help if policital or
official opposition made a determined effort to end
German youth especially appears not to have
been enlisted in this field. The youth program to
date, which has brought a substantial percentage
of the younger generation together in cultural and
social, athletic and self-help groups, appears to
have laid a good foundation for interesting them
in public affairs. The potential interest exists. The
younger people are well aware of the problems
which confront them in Germany, and it is certain
that they would grasp eagerly any opportunity
to take positive action to meet these problems.
But up to the present time they have had no op-
portunity and no encouragment. The German
political system (see Program Item 6) is author-
itarian in character and is run by the older lead-
ers. Youth as a whole senses the futility of the
present system, but has no idea of the steps which
it can take to correct this.
To a lesser extent the same statements are true
of women's organizations.
(1) General
Existing groups interested in political and gov-
ernmental activities will be offered suggestions for
specific programs in the fields of local government,
citizen-official relations, and civil liberties. (See
Program Headings 2, 3, and 4.) Aid and advice will
be given to Germans who wish to organize new
Special attention will be given to German youth
and women's associations. Consultants to advise on

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