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Henry Judd

World Politics

West Germany – East Germany

(26 April 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 17, 26 April 1948, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The split of Germany into Eastern and Western states is with us. Only the formalities and final construction of divided Germany remains to be organized. Russian Germany, with 25 millions, will confront Anglo-American-French Germany, with 40 millions. Each Germany, if those responsible for this tragic division have their way, will be shaped to conform with the social,political and economic doctrines of the imperialist power in charge. This means conflict and struggle, ultimately ending in armed war as a part of the world struggle between Russia and America. Who doubts that a split Germany will provide one, if not the principle battlefield in such a war?

The failure of the Great Powers’ final effort at London to settle the German question made this split inevitable. The April 8 speech of Gen. Sir Brian Robertson, British Military Governor, in Duesseldorf, announced the intention of the Allies to proceed to the creation of a Western Germany, based upon the existing bi-zonal Economic Administration in Frankfort. The struggle around and about Berlin shortly followed, and the Stalinists running Eastern Germany proclaimed their intention to hold a “plebiscite” on the issue of German “unity.” The two power blocs have been proceeding with great speed in their respective zones to make the split definitive.

National Freedom Remains Key Need

The struggle over Berlin is essentially irrelevant to this split, but will continue indefinitely since prestige and “face” are at issue. Regardless of what happens at Berlin – eventual Allied withdrawal, or not – the two Germanies will now be set up. The Allied Economic Control Council is apparently dead and the remaining formal ties between the powers will rapidly be dissolved. The infamous Potsdam Treaty survived a bare 2 years! Western Germany has been brought into the sphere of the Marshall Plan and a common policy for its participation in this plan has been adopted. Before long, after satisfactory compromises and concessions to the avaricious French, a tri-zonal regime instead of the present bi-zonal one will exist, with its headquarters at Frankfort.

The Allies appear intent upon proceeding rapidly now because the industrial and economic recovery of Western Germany (primarily the Ruhr) plays an important part in their plans. A German plan for the use of $2 billions of Marshall Plan money has been presented and is under consideration. German currency reform (devaluation of the worthless mark), new price schedules etc. are all on the agenda for action. Meanwhile, in their zone, the Stalinists plan to proceed to the final nationalization of all industry (that is, what is left after Russian plundering for 3 years) and complete their setting up of a model Stalinist totalitarian dictatorship over the unfortunate part of Germany under their occupation. Such are the facts after three years of imperialist occupation.

Now, what does all this signify. It is perfectly clear, of course, that the joint occupation and its alleged purposes (Nazi purge, democratization, rebuilding the German nation as a peaceful unity, etc.) has all gone up in smoke. Everything is now being dumped, discarded and cast overboard. Germany is a pliant tool, split in twain, in the hands of two great power groups, each of which wishes to use its section for (a) conquest of the other section, and (b) preparation for eventual war. The farce, fraud and deceit of the imperialist occupation is clear to all. The policy of deindustrialization (was this not to be the principle means, according to Potsdam, by which Germany was to be made a “peace-loving nation” like the Allies?) has exploded and we shall see instead a feverish reindustrialization, primarily for war purposes.

Who is responsible? All of them, in equal share and proportion. We cannot follow those liberals and Social-Democrats who try to lay the blame for Germany’s division at the exclusive doors of Stalinist Russia. The Allies participated jointly in the division and carving-up of Germany up to the point where their differences among themselves forced a reversal in policy. The hypocritical cries for “unity” on both sides are as fraudulent now as ever. Stalin wants German “unity” under joint Russian Army-SED control; Truman wants German “unity” under Anglo-American imperialist control, to provide a base for military operations against Russia. Each power, in its own way and through its own crimes, must be blamed for this division which now seems so definitive. Even though tactics and methods must now be divided in accordance with the new situation, the basic political strategy for the German people still remains the winning of their national freedom by an independence struggle waged equally against all the occupants who have brought about this mess. Germany cannot recover split in half and dismembered. Economic recovery alone would require the restoration of commerce and trade, now more disrupted than ever, between Eastern and Western Germany.

The division is an accomplished fact, imposed upon an unwilling and hostile people who are denied every right of expressing themselves. Revolutionary socialists in Germany cannot accept responsibility for it, nor approve it in the slightest degree. They are against this split, and must retain their fundamental belief and stand for fundamental unity. But within Western Germany they must also fight against the kind of rump German state the Allies give every indication of creating. The reactionary, Christian Democratic dominated Frankfort Economic Assembly is not a freely elected, democratic Parliament. It is an Allied hand-picked body. The document drawn up by this body asking for $2 billion Marshall Plan money is entirely the work of right wing Christian Democrats and has been rejected by the Social-Democrats.

The struggle for German unification can well begin in Western Germany, over the issue of this pseudo-Parliament and the demand to make out of it a genuine parliamentary body, democratically elected and with real powers. Likewise, in accepting Marshall Plan aid, the revived German labor movement must attempt to prevent its use exclusively for war and military purposes, rather than a start for the rebuilding of the country’s ruined cities and industries.

Germany has been torn in half, despite and against her will. But this does not end the story. The struggle for the reunification of Germany, independent of any and all forces of occupation, is entirely a part of the struggle against making of Germany the slaughter and battlefield for the war now being actively prepared for by those who have brought about this same split.

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