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Henry Judd

Books in Review

Raw Facts on Germany

(April 1948)

From The New International, Vol. XIV No. 4, April 1948, p. 128.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Germany: What Now?
by Joachim Joesten
Ziff-Davis, New York 1948, 331 pp., $3.75.

For those who want a good deal of factual information and data about post-war Germany, this study has a definite value. Written in a rather dry and academic style, it contains enormous quantities of raw factual material dealing with the new constitutional setup in the various zones and states of Germany, a chronicle-like survey of the various political parties, and a general description of the economic systems prevailing in the four zones.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book consists in the account of the various political parties and their present heads. Joesten gives us a brief sketch of each leader, with some telling sidelights on his career and political philosophy, including such men as Pieck, Schumacher and Kaiser, to mention the most important. In addition, there is much data on the results of the elections that have been held up to now.

For those anxious to get a factual picture of Germany as it is today, battered and split, this book will provide at least a partial answer. The description of the new setup is exhaustive in its detail. Yet this reviewer ventures the opinion that the reader will not have a real picture of the new Germany. He will have touched the surface and perhaps grasped its form, but the book completely fails to penetrate below the superficial. It utterly lacks the “feel” (most important for the understanding) of this land of utter misery. There is nothing of the hunger and ruin, the spiritual and political regression, the confusion and fear without end, the sense of hopelessness and a future without future, that constitutes the real Germany. The author is a good collector of data, which he digests in popular and readable form, but not much else.

One of the interesting, if forgotten, documents he has dug up is Proclamation No. 2 (August 13, 1945) of the Allied Control Council. This document, signed by Zhukov, Eisenhower, Montgomery and Koeltz, is now used by the Russians to justify their seizure of Germanys assets, both industrial and human. It provides that “... the German authorities will ... provide such labor, personnel and specialists for use in Germany or elsewhere as the Allied representatives may direct.”

Writing as a liberal, somewhat sympathetic to the Social-Democratic viewpoint, the author assumes the continuation of the occupation more or less in its present form, with the freezing and stabilization of the present split between Eastern and Western Germany. This is highly dubious, and undermines the prognostic nature of the book, as contained in its title.

The limitations of the author’s method, for example, are illustrated by his section on the Russians’ land reform in their zone of Germany. He states the facts, but even here he misses the still more important fact of its bureaucratic fulfillment, together with the Russian suppression of the spontaneous uprising of the landless peasantry. And he neglects the problems arising out of this land reform, as well as the now well-known fact that the Russians collect substantial portions of the crops for shipment eastward.

Likewise, he sees nothing of the “national problem” (he links all resistance tendencies to reactionary Prussian chauvinism) and cannot see the larger and broader problems of Germany. The value of the book, then, lies mainly in its useful and handy collection of information.

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