Stanley Plastrik Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Henry Judd

World Politics

The Western Germany Monstrosity

(21 June 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 25, 21 June 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Three years after the end of the war, the formal partition of Germany into eastern and western sectors has become a certainty, an established fact. After three months of secret negotiations, the three occupation powers of the Western zones (America, France and England), as well as the three Benelux nations (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg), have signed a pact on the future of their section. This pact must now be ratified by the Six Powers present at the London Conference.

Although a sharp propaganda struggle will take place in the French National Assembly, with a joining together of the de Gaullist and Stalinist forces to oppose ratification, there is no question but that all powers, including France, will agree to the terms. The London Pact, then, will become the law of the land and a truncated Germany, split between the Allies (45 million German population) and Stalinist Russia (17 million Germans) will result.

Terms of the Six Power Pact

What are the essential terms of the pact?

  1. Creation of a decentralized Federal German Government by early next year, under overall Western Powers controls, and brought into being step by step: a conference of top German political figures, a constituent assembly elected by September 1, a constitution written under Allied tutelage to be voted upon, etc.
  2. Continued and indefinite occupation of all zones of Western Germany, even under the so-called independent, self-governing German Federation.
  3. Creation of an international authority, consisting of Americans, French, English and Benelux representatives, with German “advisors,” to control the use of the Ruhr’s production of coal, coke and steel in accord with the role assigned to Germany under the Marshall Plan. The Big Three have the decisive vote on this international body, and the Big Two (America and England), by controlling votes from their respective zones, actually have a majority of 8 out of 15 possible votes!
  4. Allied and military government control at top levels shall remain in strict force during the entire period of the Pact’s operation – that is, the indefinite future. An illustration of what this means is contained in a New York Times’ dispatch (June 8):

“The first steps in the formation of a Western German state will be taken in Frankfort on the Main on June 15.

“On that day ... the Military Governors of United States, British and French zones of occupation, will meet the State Presidents of the three zones. They will authorize the German leaders to call a constituent Assembly to write a constitution for the state and will outline to them the type of constitution on which the three Western powers agreed at the recent London conference.”

Such is the essence of the new Six Power pact. What has been the general reaction to it, particularly among the Germans and also the Russians? Except for the most conservative and provincial German politicians – those, for example, among the corrupt politicians of Bavaria whose real interest lies in an autonomous Bavarian state – the proposals have aroused nothing but dismay, hostility and, at best, reluctant acceptance. The universal reaction was that an alien solution, meaning the definitive division of the German nation, was being shoved down their throats by foreign powers. The most backward forces of provincial autonomy and decentralization are encouraged – actions which can only lead to further disintegration of the German nationality. The control over Germany’s richest area,the Ruhr, was being taken out of the hands of the nation and turned over to foreign powers. Even the Social Democratic Party, which has collaborated everywhere with the military governments, labeled the Pact “a one-sided foreign decision which lies beyond any German responsibility.” The general attitude, however,i s that little or nothing can be done about the matter.

Russians Create Own Set-Up

The Russians and their Stalinist supporters in the SED party have naturally reacted more sharply and openly. On one level, the Russians have resumed their sniping warfare to force the Allies from Berlin and redoubled their terrorization of the Berlin population. More important, the Russians have indicated their political and governmental response to the moves of their Allies. The Presidium of the “People’s Congress” – organized by the Russians – denounced the Pact as “a final step in the dismemberment of Germany” and then proceeded to add its bit to this final dismemberment by proclaiming itself as “the sole existing all-German (!) and democratic representative of our people.”

The next step will be to announce that their People’s Congress is the all-German government, thus outbidding the Allied Constituent Assembly in brazenness and contempt for the German people. The Stalinist party will henceforth campaign in western Germany for adherence to this alleged all-German government created and blessed by Moscow. In contrast with western Germany’s decentralized regime, Stalinist eastern Germany will be a highly centralized state apparatus, organized along the approved 1948 totalitarian models of the GPU and the Kremlin, and with the perspective of expanding and seizing power over Allied Germany.

The proposed Pact is reactionary, imperialist, undemocratic and vicious in each of its points. Its indignant rejection by the German people is entirely correct and any political movement that accepted it would place itself in an impossible position. The immediate motive for these proposals is the necessity for ending the drift in German politics and providing some form of state framework for the carrying out of western Germany’s economic role in the Marshall Plan. The Ruhr, above all, must provide the steel and coal required by France to rebuild its economic base in Lorraine, northern France and the Saar. If western Europe and France are to be stabilized, and provided once more with sufficient military strength and power to stand up against a possible Russian march, then the economy of western Germany must move once more. Within the framework of this Pact for Germany, new hope is offered to the German capitalist class to participate once more in the life of Europe and the sharing of profits. That all this means a definitive division of Germany is unimportant to both the Russians and the Allies who, after three years of effort, have finally driven to this point. After all, the powers have not only split. Germany – Europe and the world as a whole have been split!

Democratic and National Aspirations

Yet the fact remains that only in western Germany do real prospects remain for the revival of an independent German labor movement which can be influenced by revolutionary ideas. In Stalinized and terrorized eastern Germany, the GPU is supreme and the air itself strangles the possibility of political life. While maintaining its general position of complete hostility to all the forces of occupation, and demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Germans oil; while pressing for a democratic, all-German constituent assembly to crown the regaining of national independence as a political goal, it is also clear that major effort on the part of any German revolutionary elements will have to be concentrated in the soon-to-be-born state of western Germany. There, above all, as an example for Stalinist Germany and as counter-blows to the fake “unity” program of the SED party, a struggle for democracy within western Germany must be conducted.

This means total rejection of the proposed Pact, together with very concrete demands in its place, such as the demand for a freely-elected, democratic Constituent Assembly instead of the entirely reactionary form of Assembly proposed; the demand that this Assembly shall submit its proposed constitution to a popular ratification and that it shall have sovereign power in western Germany, with its decisions not subject to any form of military government veto. Likewise, the proposed “internationalization” of the Ruhr, which is only a formula for robbery of its resources, must be fought under the slogan of retaining this area and its wealth as constituent parts of the German nation and its resources.

The issues with western Germany are clear, and a revolutionary group, no matter how small, can prove it has a practical and possible alternative to imperialism; an alternative bound up with democratic and national aspirations.

Stanley Plastrik Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 7 October 2018