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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

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


Page 45

ers do not accept. The Soviets have a temporary ad-
vantage in their zone, since their crude type of schooling
can be imposed by force, to the extent that they can
find loyal Communistis to put in as teachers. The teacher
of a Communist school need not be a good teacher, and
everything i's in the book. But the Soviet schools are
still open to sabotage, and they suffer from the fact that
parents usually do their best to counteract the teaching.
Our method is slower, but progress when it comes is, we
hope, more likely to be real.
One! of the most effective kinds of educational work is
the exchange program, which brings Gelrmans to the
United States to study. We are bringing not only
secondary-school and college students, but also men
who are already in position to influence the present
course of government and business. As many Americans
know, groups of German civil servants, members of the
legislature, lawyers and businessmen are constantly in
this country. Their trips are managed so as to bring
them in touch with American experts and leaders, who
can answer some of their questions.
It is not expected that Germans will adopt every method
they observe in the United States, but the exchange pro-
gram is effective in relaxing prejudices and stimulating
ideas that the visitors can use at home. This program is
far more effective for Germany, or any other country, than
mere lectures by Americans on how the foreigner ought
to behave. Each country has to digest what it finds in
other countries and turn it into a native form before any
lessons learned from outsiders can be useful.
IN GOVERNMENT, THE ALLIED POLICY has been to
let the Germans operate the forms of democracy as
well as they can, superintended by the Allied high com-
missioners to see that they do not try anything that will
be dangerous to the Occupying Powers. Where it seemed
advisable they have sometimes been nudged in the
direction of democratic processes.
The Germans in the western zones were started off at
first in local governments, thein the state or Laender
governments were siet up, and finally the Federal Gov-
ernment. The state and local governments were at first
appointed in the summer of 1945. Political parties were
authorized im November 1945, and. by early 1946 elec-
tions were held., first in villages, then in cities and
counties, and finally in states.
These elections have, given a chance for practice in
democratic methods and for learning by experience and
mistakes. It is a slow process. The machinery creaks and
often is taken over by a strong leader, as sometimes
happens in well-established democracies. But the Ameri-
can observers are encouraged when some humble citizen
rises in mneeting and criticizes the government. When he
finds he is not rushed off to a concentration camp, others
are encouraged to start having free opinions of their own.
General Clay introduced the custom of press confer-
ences, which have had a good educational effect. German
newspapermen, after seeing how American representa-
tives of the press did not hesitate to ask searching
questions, plucked up courage to question American and
JUNE 1951
German officials. The German press soon began to adopt
a healthy habit of condemning officials who refuse to
submit to questioning. This is a new and potent feature
of German life and presents a strong contrast to Com-
munist practices.
The Federal Government is farther removed from
village meetings than the local governments and is
perhaps morel likely to forget that it is the servant of
the voter. As might be expected, the Federal Govern-
ment quickly got into troubles like those sometimes
found in older democratic countries, one crisis growing
out of accusations of bribery and another out of charges
of arbitrary usurpation of power. The educational effect
of these crises should not be overlooked.
THE MAIN PURPOSE of our attemps to educate or
influence the Germans is not to get perfect actions
from the officials, but to get the people to the point
where they can run a democracy on their own. No
country can run a democracy with no mistakes at all,
but we hope to get a German nation that runs reasonably
well and is responsible enough to join the society of free
nations. Books and discussions by Americans are valuable.
But we cannot expect to teach the Germans democracy
out of books alone, or by having them hear Americans
lecture on how to avoid graft and how to keep the chief
executive from acting like a dictator. What little any
democratic country knows about solving these problems
must be learned by experience, as we can testify after
nearly 1,000 years of experience in England and America.
The charges that certain business interests had bribed
legislators to vote for locating the Federal Government
at Bonn set off a nationwide argument. The newspapers
made it clear that bribery is not safe in present-day Ger-
many, as it was for the insiders of Hitler's government.
The Germans also had a chance to note the unholy joy of
the Soviet propaganda artists, who pounded day after day
on the corruption of the hated West German government.
No democracy can be guaranteed against graft, but this
sort of experience has a tendency to give the people a
healthy sense of keeping an eye on their officials.
In the same way, the resignation of a cabinet member
who accused Chancellor Adenauer of usurping power was
of educational value to the Germans of all parties. One
of the toughest prohw - ms in German democracy is the old
habit of authority and submission to authority. This
cabinet crisis has given the citizens a chance to see their
chancellor accused of taking too much authority, of dis-
regarding his cabinet and of by-passing the legislature.
Dr. Adenauer felt called upon to reply in a radio speech,
in which he did not, like Hitler, call the legislature "the
greatest babbling institution of all time." On the contrary,
the head of the state denied that he was taking arbitrary
power and assured the people that he would respect the
constitutional rights of the legislature.
Accusations and denials of this kind are common in
democratic countries and are a healthy sign. In Germany
the whole question was aired in the newspapers while the
Soviet radio howled as if arbitrary power were some-
thing the happy Communist countries never have to fear.
INFORMATION BULLETIN
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