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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

Building strength against Communism,   pp. 43-47 PDF (3.1 MB)


Page 44

tatorship. RIAS, the powerful American radio voice in
West Berlin, is an island of disconcerting information
behind the Iron Curtain. RIAS is one of the most powerful
stations in Central Europe and on the air 201/2 hours a
day. It blankets-the entire Communist-controlled area
of Germany and is widely listened to by the East Ger-
mans in spite of heavy penalties imposed on those who
are caught.
Locally, the West Berliners need no instruction in the
art of ridicule which they turn loose at every oppor-
tunity across the line into the Soviet Sector, where it
is taken up by thousands of anti-Communist East Ber-
liners. These operations do not reduce the size of the
Red Army or of the militarized police force of East Ger-
many, but they contribute vastly to raising the hope
and courage of Western Germans. They seriously under-
mine the morale and loyalty of the East German police,
and even of the Red Army officers.
The Fightin~g Group Against Inhumanity, with head-
quarters in West Berlin, is one of several independent
organizations operating in East Germany to undermine
the Soviet influence. The Fighting Group reports. on the
fate of East German!s who are spirited away by the
secret police and broadcasts the names of informers, for
the protection of East Germans who are still outside the
slave camps. The effect of this work embarrasses the
Soviet authorities in the East and helps to keep the
West Germans alive to the more ghastly features of
life under Communist rule. These organizations are
native products, not set up by the Allied Occupation,
and are therefore all the more potent against the Soviets.
T HE POSITIVE SIDE of Allied work for democracy
consists of a wide range of information and training
and the constant use of influence to stimulate democratic
practices.
The directive of the US High Commisisioner lays
down the line of what results we want to work for:
We want to increase respect for individual dignity
and rights, respect for the opinions of others and of
minorities, freedom of thought and speech, and liberal
social attitudes in general.
We want to promote representative and responsible
self-government, justice based on a free search for truth,
personal responsibility for public affairs and recognition
that officials are servants, not masters of the public.
We want legal and social rights for all, regardless of
race, sex or creed.
We want increased respect for international peace and
cooperation, and for the idea of German culture as an
integral part of Western civilization.
Our representatives, of course, have to recognize that
no one can make a foreign population follow any such
list of rules merely by posting them on the wall and
preaching about how desirable they are. All people have
their own habits and prejudices, including a natural dis-
ilke off being told by foreigners how to be good and
happy. We try to create conditions that will influence the
people to make up their own minlds out of their own
experience, and in their own time.
INFORMATION BULLETIN
One such condition is an improved supply of truthful
information, which is spread by radio, by a US daily
newspaper, and by magazines and moving pictures.
The Germans are given truthful news, both good and
bad. They. have had long experience of doctored news
under Mr. Goeebblells. They are quite well able to recognize
dishonest reporting and to appreciate the truth. The So-
viets may gain an advantage by pegging a big lie to a
small scrap of truth, since their chief end is to make
trouble. But the Western authorities want to build real
understanding. We can afford the slow process of estab-
lishinig a reputation for sticking to the truth.
M UCH OF THE EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL for the
adult population is made up of magazines, books
and documentary movies that describe life in the free
countries aned offer technical information on industry and
agriculture. A large part of what we aim to'do is merely
to bring the Germans back into touch with Western civili-
zation after the lonig Nazi blackout. We want them to
feel familiar with Western ways, some of which they may'
want to copy, and all of which they need to understand.
In the German school system, our first job was largely
negative, to clear away the rubbish. Nazi textbooks had
to be scrapped as soon as possible, a slow job, since new
school texts had to be written and printed. Teachers who
were incurable Nazis had to be screened out.
The state ministers of education were persuaded to
set up committees of German educators to revise the
schoolbooks. We helped by supplying new source ma-
terials, which of course were lacking in Germany after
12 years of Nazi rule. The new books began coming off
the press in quantity in 1950.
In 1948, many of the German leaders in the! American
zone organized forums on the purposes of education, and
these were highly successful. Hundreds of meetings were
held, with Germans presiding. American educational ex-
perts were usually present to make suggestions. Large
numbers of private citizens attended these meetings, and
the discussions were free and wi de-ranging, much like
similar discussions in the United States. The forums
themselves were a good lesson in democracy.
The second stage., in which the Americans acted as
tutors for Germans willing to cooperate but unfamiliar
with the methods of democratic action, has been drawing
to a close. The third stage,.of cultural cooperation on an
equal basis with Germans managing their own affairs, is
now established in most of the lines of democratic ac-
tivity. From here on., the Germanis, like any other demo-
cratic people, must learn by making their own mistakes.
T HE REFORM OF THEIR SCHOOL system in only one
instance of the three stages of progress that have
characterized most of our relations with the Germans.
There are many other encouraging developments, such as
the growth of parent-teacher associations, civil-liberties
groups, women's organizations, and town-hall meetings.
The school reforms that we wanted to see in Germany
could not have been imposed by force, since nothing is
easier to sabotage than a school system which the teach-
JUNE 1951
44


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