The So-Called Berlin Question

The So-Called Berlin Question

The German voters have expressed their dissatisfaction with the foreign policy of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer whom. the socialist leader Dr. Schumacher once, in a premeditated rash of nationalist anger dubbed “the Chancellor of the Allies.” The Socialist vote increased by 13%, from 31 to 36% of the total. This increase may partly be attributed to the dynamic personality of Berlin’s Mayor Willy Brandt, to the appeal of many youthful candidates on his list and to the abandonment of Marxism in the party’s program—but only partly; in previous local elections the Socialists had made higher percentage gains on the strength of their welfare politics, but hitherto the voters always had refused to extend their confidence to them in a national election where foreign policy was the major issue.

The main reason for the Socialist success, all observers and the pollsters agree, was the Western powers’ failure to act on August 13. Up to that date, the Socialist vote was trailing badly behind its potential in all polls; after the walling-off of West Berlin, however, the voters took a second look at Germany’s future and decided that the close alliance with the West no longer promised fulfillment of their national aims. Now they remembered the Socialists’ frequent warning that Adenauer would not and could not achieve the reunification of the two Germanys. This interpretation is forcefully supported by the dazzling success of the Free Democratic Party whose leader, Dr. Mende, a former officer who likes to display the knight’s cross he earned in Hitler’s war, conducted his campaign under the slogan: Germany must have an independent foreign policy. This right-wing party which must be represented in any coalition, tends to seek an accommodation with the Soviet Union, in exchange for the mirage that hoping for unification might not be in vain forever. Many Germans would condone neutralism rather than abandon an illusory claim to lost territories. They have long resented NATO as the instrument of an American policy which assigned to them the role of foot soldiers in the cold war, and the more nationalistic among them never cherished the consequences: West Germany’s integration into the West European Community threatens to absorb her sovereignty and virtually excludes the restoration of an all German sovereignty.

FAR FROM BEING an instrument of German revanchist designs—as some illinformed or ill-disposed writers on the American and British Left continue to charge—the Western alliance to this day has been an impediment to German irredentism. It maintained the status quo and protected the West German Republic within its present boundaries. Germany’s Slav neighbors found satisfaction in this de facto out- come of the world war and the cold war. Neither the French nor the British care to see Germany re-united and the U. S. has paid lip service to a transcendental aim of German unity —b...

Socialist thought provides us with an imaginative and moral horizon.

For insights and analysis from the longest-running democratic socialist magazine in the United States, sign up for our newsletter: