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Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 49 (July 1946)

[Highlights of policy],   pp. [4]-[29] PDF (18.0 MB)

Page 17

Understanding of German People, Realization of Accomplishments of Allied
Necessary for US Personnel in Discharging their Responsibilities in Occupation
By Lt. Col. R. P. Rosengren
We have been told that occupation is a
tremendous policing job which is necessary
until the Germans can conduct their affairs
in a democratic manner. What constitutes
"democracy" is as varied as the background
of the governments of the occupying powers
in Germany. But of one thing we may be
sure, that in the Laenderrat, the German
Council of States which sits at Stuttgart for
the purpose of exchanging ideas, in attacking
and solving the problems of economics, fi-
nance, food and agriculture, justice, etc.,
through the Land governments, the Germans
are learning democracy. In the committees
of the Laenderrat the ideas of Bavaria are
being pitted with skill against the Wuerttem-
bergers' and the Hessians' - and the Ger-
mans are arriving at compromise conclusions
based on free, sometimes heated debate. These
Germans at least are going through the mo-
tions of a democratic procedure. It is up to
us to show all Germans what democracy and
freedom really mean.
One of the best definitions of liberty and
freedom was given us by Theodore Roosevelt
when he said, "Your right to swing your fist
ends where my nose begins." Confusing liber-
ty and license, freedom and piracy, is char-
acteristic of those who object to discipline in
its general sense. The kind of discipline
which subordinates the individual to the wel-
fare of the group is an essential element of
democracy. It is living under laws instead
of under men.
Discipline is important at home, it is doub-
ly important abroad and of untold importance
among the German people to whom training
and discipline in all walks of life has been
the accepted mode of living for centuries.
My German-born grandmother told me the
tale of a reprimand of a German soldier by
a German officer which illustrates to what ex-
tremes the German sense of discipline can be
carried. He was a cavalry officer wearning
old-fashioned gauntlets. Instead of the three
stitchings of thread or leather we have on
the backs of our gloves, he had woven steel
threads. As he reprimanded the soldier, he
struck him regulary and repeatedly on both
sides of the face with the steel-threaded
gauntlet, so that, at the end of his "lecture"
the soldier was cut and scarred and bloody
but still standing at attention and accepting
that treatment.
There is no necessity for us to goose-step
around the streets of Berlin nor present the
ramrod-straight picture which is the Ger-
man's ideal. But the very least we owe to
our own self respect (not forgetting duty to
our country) is to dress neatly and correctly;
to be pressed and shaved and clean.

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