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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

4. Resident officers,   pp. 29-30 PDF (1.5 MB)

Page 29

Land Commissioners. They will coordinate all
activities affecting- the work. of other organiza-
tional units (Item 2 above) with the appropriate
units at Land level.
The Land Offices cooperate with IPG in the
planning of general and operational programs, and
are responsible for the execution of the program
at the Land level. They are charged with relations
with the Land government, Land officials, and the
Within the Exchanges Division procedures they
select or participate in the selection of Germans
visiting the U.S. and European countries. Their
responsibility in connection with specific services,
such as consultants, pamphlets, etc., is considered
in subsequent subdivisions.
4. Resident Officers
The key to the success of the Citizen Participation
program lies with the Kreis Resident Officer. This
program  includes the proposal to develop citizen
participation in governmental and political affairs
(program item 1, Part II), and the local develop-
ment of the programs on local government, the
citizen and the public servant, and civil liberties
(program items 2, 3, and 4, Part II) which are sug-
gested for use as stimulants to local interest in
citizen participation.
Cooperation between citizens and the police, and
the traffic safety program (Program Item 5), are
also fields where the contribution of the resident
officer is essential. Work with local political lead-
ers, public officials, councilmen, and local Land-
tag and Bundestag representatives is essential to
the success of Program Items 6 and 7.
Obviously, the development of citizen participa-
tion is dependent upon interesting the individual
citizen, making certain that he understands the
subject matter, and giving him the tools with which
to work. The work must be done by Germans. We
can only advise and assist where advice and as-
sistance are acceptable.
The interest of citizens in participation in public
affairs is at various stages of development in vari-
ous localities, ranging from  a complete lack of
organization to an effective citizens' association. In
some places the citizens are disinterested or the
officials are hostile; in others, there already exists
good cooperation. Political complexion, religion,
economic conditions, refugees, newspaper char-
acteristics,' and a multitude of factors affect each
local situation. No single program can be laid
down. The program can merely be suggestive to
the Resident Officer, and he must adapt it to the
conditions with which he is confronted.
He is concerned not merely with forums and
citizens' associations but with all kinds of organiza-
tions which might interest themselves in public af-
fairs-nonpartisan  voter groups, taxpayers' as-
sociations, women's and youth groups, farmers' or-
ganizations, and trade unions, to mention a few.
IPG will furnish outlines of possible programs
which will cover those contingencies which can be
foreseen. These will include outlines for discussion
courses, suggestions for action programs and sug-
gestions how citizens can make their wishes ef-
fective against opposition. Seminars will be held
initially to discuss these proposals and periodically
thereafter to discuss problems which arise. Pam-
phlets will be available to support the programs.
Questions which arise -in the course of work may
be referred through channels to the Land Political
The material to be made available will cover a
variety of topics such as local government and
local autonomy, local taxation and expenditures,
selection of local officials, relations between the
community legislative and executive branches, civil
liberties, relations between the public and the civil
servant, the political party structure and its respon-
siveness to local controls, election methods, and the
structure of local, Land, and federal government.
The first step is doubtless to assure that one or
more local citizens' groups are established, and then
to interest all established groups in public and
governmental affairs. -In no case should these
groups be dominated by the local- officials. So far
as possible, however, relations with the local of-
ficials should be cooperative and helpful.
,In addition to encouraging discussions and action
on the subjects suggested above, civic groups may
be interested in initiating civic improvement pro-
grams. If groups undertake such projects, they
should be encouraged to follow them through and,
where obstacles arise from  governmental inter-
ference or otherwise, to learn how to fight their
case successfully.
There are many Germans familiar with the fore-
going problems who are anxious to contribute to
the success of these programs. Heretofore no means
has existed to bring them in contact with the local
groups. It is believed that a German organization
for this purpose will be established in the im-
mediate future. This organization can furnish
speakers and consultants, and, if a local group is
financially weak, it may be possible to extend aid
for minor incidental expenses, such as rent for a
meeting place, travel expenses for speakers, the
cost of publicity, or attorneys' fees in significant
civil liberties cases.
Adequate newspaper coverage of these activ-
ities is essential. The citizens' groups must learn to
establish working relations with the newspapers;
the newspapers must learn the news value to them
of these local movements.
A few documentary films on citizens' activities
will be available for appropriate local groups. They
will also serve as a basis for discussion meetings.
Local libraries should be encouraged to develop
their material in these fields. These activities can
be coordinated with the work of the local Amerika
Haus or of the Information Center.
A number of visiting American and European
consultants will come to Germany. The Resident
Officer will be informed of their availability and,
through the Land Political Offices, may arrange to
use them for consultation with city groups, town
councils, city officials, and others. The consultants
should, of course, be briefed on local conditions.
Legislators at all levels should be encouraged to
report to civic meetings on the work of the leg-
islators and on proposed legislative action. They
should be encouraged to make copies of pertinent
pending legislation available to interested groups
and to get community reaction to legislative pro-
posals. Party leaders and local officials ought sim-
ilarly to be encouraged to report on their work and
to get the public reaction.
Germans who have visited the U.S. and European
countries will be returning from these visits to

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