Germany After the Catastrophe

The Hitlerite regime which had promised the German people a millennial Reich, plunged that people into the most frightening catastrophe in its history; catastrophe which, in its proportions, is not comparable with the collapse of the second empire in 1918, nor with the consequences of the Thirty Years’ War, much less with the fate of France after the fall of Napoleon. It is necessary to refer to the eradication of ancient peoples, to find parallels to the total defeat of Germany.

According to cautious assessments (exact statistics do not exist) Germany has had 6 million deaths, of which about 4 million fell on the ground and the rest were civilian victims of the air attacks and disappeared during the Russian invasion. The entire Wehrmacht was taken prisoner and was used for a long time for the reconstruction of the destroyed territories in the already occupied countries, in the work of mines, in agriculture, etc. At the end of 1947 there were still 400,000 German prisoners in France, of which over 100,000 as so-called free workers, about 100,000 in England, while the number of those who were in the Soviet zone of influence is estimated to about two million, a large part of which, however, must be considered as no longer alive.

The following statistic gives an idea of ​​the extent of the destruction in the interior of Germany. Are destroyed: for 45%: Munich, Mannheim-Ludwigshafen; for 50%: Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Munich-Gladbach; 55%: Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Essen, Hamm, Kiel, Freiburg im Breisgau; for 60%: Frankfurt am Main, Dresden, Hanover, Dortmund, Münster, Darmstadt; for 65%: Cologne, Aachen; 75%: Kassel, Mainz, Bochum, Emden, Soest; for eighty per cent: Paderborn, Würzburg, Hanau.

In Hamburg only 19% of the houses remained undamaged, in Essen 13%, in Berlin 12%, in Munich 10%, in Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart, just 2-4%. Each resident corresponds to 10 cubic meters in Berlin, Essen and Stuttgart. of rubble, in Hamburg and Frankfurt 20 cubic meters, in Nuremberg 30 (for damage to works of art see below). 30% of the books in public libraries were destroyed. Apart from the main perpetrators, tried in Nuremberg (see, in this App.), The crimes committed in the destruction camps of Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Buchenwald, Dachau, etc. they were prosecuted by ordinary military courts and the perpetrators convicted. The proceedings against other members of the party, the SS and other Nazi organizations are left to German courts which, according to the rules established by the allied military government, they can impose penalties restricting liberty and fines as well as forced labor; certain categories of accused have been translated into punishment camps. In the Russian zone, the still pending denazification processes were stopped in February 1948.

Regarding the way in which Germany was to be treated after the war, the American secretary of the treasury H. Morgenthau had established a plan that was proposed by President Roosevelt at the Quebec conference in September 1944 and which, as far as it was within the measures to be taken by the troops Americans, was implemented with order no. 1067. The Morgenthau plan, illustrated in a volume by Morgenthau junior, considered the entire German people responsible for the event, in a moral and juridical sense, considered it incorrigible in the future and proposed, to avoid future aggressions, a division of Germany in a northern state and a southern state, the dismantling of the large industrial plants in the Ruhr area and the closure of the existing mines there, a 20-year control of the German economy, forced labor of German men in the lands of the victors. The deindustrialisation sponsored by Morgenthau would have led to a decrease in the German population of at least 20 million. Although serious doubts were raised on the American side from the beginning about the justice and appropriateness of the plan, it nevertheless had an influence on the decisions of the heads of state meeting in the Potsdam conference from July 17 to August 2, 1945 and its influence has repercussions. until today in the occupation policy of Western powers.

On June 5, 1945, the Allied Control Council, based in Berlin, assumed supreme governing authority in Germany. All the authorities of the Reich and all the representations abroad were abolished. The Reich territory was divided into 4 zones (see above: Administrative order).

As an objective of the economic policy of the occupying powers, the Potsdam conference set the destruction of the arms industry and the decrease of heavy industry, the development of agriculture and small industry, while keeping firm to the economic unity of Germany.

During the years 1945-47, numerous armament systems were therefore destroyed or dismantled, other industrial systems and individual machines were taken away for repairs. On October 16, 1947, the American and British occupation authorities published a new list of 682 factories to be demolished, to which the French occupation authority later added 236. Of these 918 factories still to be demolished, 308 are listed as plants for the armament, the rest as “superfluous” (surplus). Among the latter is, for example, the largest factory in Europe for the production of nitrogen fertilizers in Oppau. As for the industrial plants and individual machines removed from the Russian area, no figures are available. Since Russia and France have taken their own paths in economic policy, the treatment of Germany as an economically unitary territory has proved impracticable. America and England agreed at the beginning of 1947 on the economic fusion of their zones of occupation (Bizona) and convened a council for the German economy with only advisory functions.

As for repairs, claims from 18 states have so far been announced at the Inter-Allied Repair Agency in Brussels, for a total of $ 300 billion. According to an appraisal made by the Senator of Bremen, Harmssen, appointed by the governments of the Länder of the Bizona, a total of 71.1 billion dollars have so far been paid as reparation through the confiscation of German properties abroad and in territories ceded to the east, by means of industrial demolitions, confiscations of current production (for example coal), tax revenues, etc. The value of the German driving licenses seized by the United States alone has been calculated by American experts at $ 5 billion. The gigantic losses of goods, the continuous regression of production and finally the

The currency reform of June 20, 1948 (see § Finance), however, gave a comforting impulse to the three western areas; but until today (October 1948) it is not possible to say that a stabilization has been achieved. The Lastenausgleich (equalization of charges) planned, that is, the compensation of the victims of the bombings and of the expelled from the eastern regions of Germany by means of taxation on the still existing assets, is still to come.

Among the Potsdam agreements, the most serious of consequences concerns the separation of the territories to the east of the Oder-Neisse line. The USSR had Königsberg and the contiguous part of East Prussia; all the rest was given to Poland in administration, subject to the definitive settlement to be made in the peace treaties and it (as well as Czechoslovakia and Hungary) was given the right to transfer the German population to Germany “in an orderly and human manner “. While the expulsion of the German population – according to the statements of allied and neutral observers, not in a “humane way” – has already taken place, no agreement has been reached on the definitive nature of the delimitation of the borders. The US Secretary of State, Byrnes, in his, Stuttgart speech of September 6, 1946 declared, according to the unequivocal text of the Potsdam Agreement, that “the extent of the territory to be ceded to Poland can be decided only when a definitive agreement is reached on this”; Stalin, on the other hand, on October 29, 1946, when asked whether the Soviet Union considered Poland’s western borders as definitive, replied yes. Already in his Christmas speech of 1945, Pope Pius XII had condemned from the moral-religious point of view the expulsion of entire fractions of peoples from their ancestral seats. Stalin, on the other hand, on October 29, 1946, when asked whether the Soviet Union considered Poland’s western borders as definitive, replied yes. Already in his Christmas speech of 1945, Pope Pius XII had condemned from the moral-religious point of view the expulsion of entire fractions of peoples from their ancestral seats. Stalin, on the other hand, on October 29, 1946, when asked whether the Soviet Union considered Poland’s western borders as definitive, replied yes. Already in his Christmas speech of 1945, Pope Pius XII had condemned from the moral-religious point of view the expulsion of entire fractions of peoples from their ancestral seats.

The territories to the east of the Oder-Neisse line (Silesia, Neumark and Grenzmark, Anterior Pomerania and East Prussia) include 110,000 square kilometers in round numbers. with a pre-war population of 9,500,000 residents, of which in the 1925 census less than 1 million professed to speak a foreign or bilingual language. The economic importance of these territories is illustrated by the fact that they produced 30% of the potatoes in Germany, 27% of the wheat. And not only have predominantly agricultural territories been lost, but what remains of Germany must also feed most of the former residents of them who have been expelled. According to the Institut fur Weltwirtschaft of Kiel (2 August 1947), 13,910,000 Germans were expelled from Poland, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia, of whom, up to the date indicated, 10,059,088 have been statistically detected by German authorities. The Russian zone has welcomed 4 million; the British one just over 3 million; and the American one, according to a report by the Länder council to General Clay, 2,852,136 at the end of 1947. In Schleswig-Holstein, where in the last census 101 residents per sq km had been counted. now there are 176. In the Russian area the number of Catholics has increased from just over one million to 3.5 million. The expelled were not compensated for the property they left behind; as a rule they could not carry more than 20 kg with them. of baggage, a maximum of 500 marks in cash and no valuables. The possibility of housing them is extremely precarious; in Bavaria alone, 501 refugee camps still existed on 2 January 1948.

The conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany was discussed in the conferences in Moscow (March 1947) and London (December 1947), but no agreement was reached. At the London conference of May 27, 1948, the six powers agreed on the creation of a central government for the three western zones and on international control of the Ruhr basin. The blockade of the three western areas of Berlin, established by the Soviets since the end of June, in relation to the currency reform, has not been lifted, despite the negotiations conducted in Moscow and the conversations of the military governors in Berlin and the discussions at the Security Council of the NU. The Allied Control Council continues to exist, but all important decisions are made by the occupying powers independently of each other.

It is still impossible to fully see what the spiritual and cultural consequences of the collapse and occupation are. The “re-education” program imposed by the Americans was felt as a constraint and as propaganda. The initially hermetic closure of the three western areas from abroad also prevented the entry of independent books, periodicals and newspapers. Only slowly has it been possible to resume the didactic functioning of the universities; overflowing with students; many professors have left as a result of the purge; the destruction of many university buildings and libraries still makes studies difficult today. Characteristic for the German spiritual life are the attempts to draw deductions from current events for the interpretation of the past and to revise the way of conceiving German history (W. Roepke, F. Meinecke. A. Weber, Germany Ritter), also by discussing issues of principle such as that of collective guilt; issues that are debated in journals, both the ancient ones reborn, and the numerous new ones (Wandlung in Heidelberg, Frankfurter HefteNordwestdeutsche Hefte in Hamburg, Neues Abendland in Augsburg). In the religious field, the collapse of the bourgeois world up to now had first created a very favorable ground for the allignation of Christian ideas and the authority of the church had increased extraordinarily. But alongside the undoubted religious vigor there is nevertheless, especially in the younger generation, a widespread nihilistic ideology.

Political will is placed tightly by military occupation. It is certain, however, that the majority of politically thinking people do want an articulation of the Reich in a federal sense, but hold fast to its state unity and condemn separatist tendencies. The strength of the newly formed parties can be seen from the following table, established on the basis of the last elections for the councils, respectively of the Lander: and of the municipalities:

It is noteworthy that in the Russian zone the Socialist Union Party (SED), favored by the occupation authorities, has not yet obtained an absolute majority. In the American zone, the Christian-Democratic Union (in Bavaria: the Christian-Social Union) is the strongest party and in the British zone, the Social Democratic party, whose leader Schumacher is the German politician most talked about in the postwar, it has a relative majority.

The hints, so far manifested, to new cultural and political formations, threaten to remain suffocated by the two greatest miseries of the post-war period, namely the lack of housing and hunger, which always spreads in catastrophic forms. Only in the Land of Greater Hesse, which in 1939 had 3,500,000 residents approximately 483,000 living quarters were destroyed, according to an official statistic dated 29 October 1946, while 72,131 were seized by the occupying authorities; in the Land of Württemberg-Baden, whose residents were approximately 3,250,000 in 1939, 658,410 residential buildings were destroyed and 44,174 seized. In the autumn of 1947 in the three western zones the food rations officially foreseen, but in fact often not observed, were lower than those distributed in the concentration camps; to which we must add that, unlike in Italy, there is practically no free market for fruit, vegetables and other food items. In the Land of Württemberg-Baden since the end of 1946 the rations have not reached 1000 calories. Of course, those that suffer the most are the big cities. In the Hamburg hospitals, in the 4 months between June and September 1947, there were from 697 to 763 edema from hunger month by month. To mitigate this situation, relief actions were organized by Pope Pius XII, with oblations from the Christian world and from Evangelisches Hilfswerk ; mindful of the responsibility that falls upon it, America too has alleviated misery by providing food.

It is widely believed among connoisseurs of the present conditions that the German people can heal politically and morally only if they too are guaranteed the rights accorded to other peoples in the Atlantic Charter and if they get the chance to rebuild their country in the peace of work, to repair the damage caused by the Hitler regime and to integrate, as a member with equal rights, into the future community of European peoples.

Germany After the Catastrophe