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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

Caldwell, W. J.
Touring the border,   pp. [7]-11 PDF (3.3 MB)

Page 11

mont is significant if you will bear in mind the traditional
philosophy of the government official - namely, to gov-
ern." Mr. Thomsen said of the lectures: "Slowly but surely,
the concept of the public official as a public servant, re-
sponsible to the citizens of his community, is taking root."
M R. THOMSEN SUCCEEDED in getting the citizens
interested in problems pertaining to their particular
fields, but bringing them together to tackle problems on
a community-wide basis was another thing. Public of-
ficials were reluctant to look at the over-all welfare of
the community. Coburg city officials, the majority mem-
beis of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and Coburg
county officials, predominantly Social Democrats (SPD),
were at odds for reasons primarily of political dogma.
The resident officer finally solved that problem by
hitting upon the community planning council idea.
"Citizens not only have a right to determine by whom
they should be governed," Mr. Thomsen argued, "but how
their schools and parks should look, how their hospitals
and streets should be built. In other words, they have the
right to help plan their community."
The attitude of officialdom toward community planning
in its earlier stages was succinctly expressed by Coburg's
mayor, Dr. Walter Langer, who told Mr. Thomsen: "It is
easy for you Americans to plan because you have the
dollars." Retorted Mr. Thomsen: "No, Dr. Langer, we have
dollars because we have planned."
The resident officer was determined to show political
diehards that community-wide planning was not a matter
of dollars but common sense. His first success was among
the area's educators and scholars, who, at his suggestion,
formed a city planning group late in 1950. The group
attracted interested citizens fromboth the city and county,
including some government officials who, while they still
suspiciously eyed community planning, were sufficiently
politically-minded to heed the views of their constituents.
The planning committee grew, and both county and city
government heads began taking an active role. However,
at the beginning community planning was limited to city
or county-never the two jointly.
.   \i NE 1951                                                          
Coburg city planning commission holds session with cor-
respondents and escort officials as observers. Standing is
Hans Anweiler, (SPD), city councilor, listening to a ques-
tion put by one of the visitors.        (Photo by Jacoby)
CITY AND COUNTY OFFICIALS, sitting with local
citizens on the planning committee, at first glared at
each other. Then they began wrangling. Mr. Thomsen
was encouraged when he noticed they were beginning to
agree occasionally on minor problems affecting either city
or county. The big turning point came early this year
when the two rival political camps decided to meet to
discuss problems common to both city and county. That
history-making meeting was held late last January when
city and county officials, along with government repre-
sentatives from Munich and Bonn, sat down at one table
with an eye on their common community problems.
Mr. Thomsen had reason to be proud of an accomplish-
ment for which he was mainly responsible.
Duplicating the truce declared by city and county
officials of Coburg, Bavarian citizens along the border are
meeting and solving many of their problems. And in seek-
ing to better their own way of life, they are not turning
their back on their less fortunate fellow countrymen who
live across the zonal border in the Soviet Zone.
At virtually every village and hamlet we visited we
were asked by Bavarians: "Do you realize that the Ger-
mans living in the East also are waiting to be liberated
by you Americans?"
More than once we were told that "whenever the
Americans withbraw their troops from a border point, it
causes even greater concern among the eastern Germans
than among the Bavarians. The eastern Germans feel
safer knowing the American soldiers are nearby."
And many Bavarians relayed this message they said
they had received from relatives and friends in the Soviet
Zone: "Please remind the Americans that most of us are
Communists by force - not of our own free will."  +END
William J. ("Jack") Caldwell,
author of this article, has been
in Germany since shortly after
the war. A wartime correspon-
dent for "Stars and Stripes," he
joined the Public Information
Office, OMGUS, in Berlin in
March 1946, advancing to news
chief. When the Department of
State took over the occupation
responsibility in October 1949,
he was transferred to Munich as
chief of the Public Relations
Branch, OLC Bavaria. At the end
of May, he, with his wife and
daughter, left for Washington
to take a new post with the
Office of International Press and
Publications, Department of State.
A resident of Buffalo, N.Y.,
he was a reporter before the
war for the "Courier-Express."

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