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James M. Fenwick

Off Limits

(5 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 31, 5 August 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

The article in the paper was plain enough. It read:

“FRANKFORT, July 12 – (AP) – Ninety-six American soldiers were arrested by U.S. Third Army military police during the last six days for public petting with German frauleins, it was announced today.

”The arrests were made following General Joseph T. McNarney’s crackdown on displays of affection.”

What a madhouse this world of capitalism is! For participating in the basic and humanizing relation existing between man and woman anonymous G.I.’s are arrested and fined, or “turned over to their commanding officers for disciplinary action.” For having helped organize the destruction of a continent and the death and mutilation of millions of both Germans and Americans General Eisenhower is enthroned as a national hero!

And thrice-mad seems a world in which the incident can pass without even rippling the public conscience.


I cannot help thinking of Bavaria a year ago. The war had just ended. The six-year agony was over. Out of that nightmare of air raids, constant fear and despair, of husbands or lovers dead or prisoners in Russia – and good as dead, hunger, destruction, and a bleak future, German women began to piece together their lives.

It would have been in opposition to all laws of nature had these women and lonely American soldiers not sought each other out. To see couples laughing together in the bars, or strolling through the green shade of the benches in the parks was to reassure oneself that beneath the fierce nationalistic propaganda of both the nazis and the American government the desire of the common people of the earth for peace and friendship would reassert itself.

The Army’s Reply

The response of American officers was typical. Normal human relations with the population were prohibited or discouraged. As a result, relations between the sexes sank to the level of intrigue or shabby relations from which all love and companionship soon were driven.

This policy, of course, was not a product of the arrogance, petty meanness, and ignorance which characterize the officer caste. It was part of the plan of United States capital for keeping Germany in the status of a subject nation powerless to compete with the United States on the world market.

But every noble political abstraction in Washington ends in most human consequences in Germany. The result is the punishment of enlisted men for the impudence of desiring a woman’s warmth, the commercializing of human relations, the suicides of German women whose lovers have been redeployed to the United States, and the driving out of Germany of men who wish to take German women as wives.

There is the world from which hate was to be abolished!

The Working Class’ Answer

In the midst of the national hatreds which seethe in Europe the working class, however, is slowly, very slowly, re-establishing the great principles of international solidarity.

In Belgium, German soldier slave labor is used to work the coal mines; Despite despicable threats upon their lives these German workers recently struck in solidarity with Belgian miners who were protesting horrible working conditions which produced a disaster in which many German and Belgian workers were killed. Belgian workers in turn later demonstrated against burying the German victims separately in paupers’ graves.

In that courageous action lies the answer to the capitalist program of hatred in perpetuity in which they would like to drown every human decency doggedly established by mankind in its long ascent from primeval darkness.

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