From the March 1953 issue of the Socialist Standard
"Nation shall speak peace unto Nation.” This historic phrase was at one time the slogan of the B.B.C. and occurred on all their official papers. Perhaps it still does, but we doubt if they now believe it, even if they ever did. To-day owing to Germany not being successful in winning the last war they are not allowed to broadcast to us in English and give us their views direct, presumedly in case they infect us with some of their warlike ideas. The B.B.C. can. however, broadcast to them, and no opportunity is lost in endeavouring to capture their sympathy and influence their opinions.
Apart from the external propaganda which is pumped into Germany by every country which surrounds her, including the two big giants U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. and the two somewhat shrunken giants of yesterday, Britain and France, most of the aerial word warfare that goes on over Germany is the ceaseless East-versus-West stuff.
When the war ended, the allied controlled Western zones were not only the larger geographically, but also contained about two thirds or more of the total population. Before the advancing Russians the Germans retreated by the million, but in the West after the allies had crossed the Rhine they knew it was all up and surrendered, thereby remaining where they were, where they lived and belonged. This had many repercussions, for it meant that business in the Western zones could be got going very much quicker. Rough estimates of the division of population were thought to be 50 million Western Germany and 25 millions Eastern zone, although U.N.O. gives 48 million Western Germany and 17 millions Eastern zone; with a further 3,300,000 in Berlin.
Since the stumps of war were pulled up, there has been a steady migration from the East to the West, and as far as we know without any corresponding movements in the other direction. It has been estimated that many millions have transferred from East to West. Hundreds of thousands of German prisoners who were in captivity in the West, or allied countries, did not return to the Eastern zone if they were from there. The hatred of the Russians, made decidedly worse by all the Nazi propaganda, caused a scramble towards the West.
It would appear that the bulk of the industry is in the West, the Ruhr, Lower Rhine heavy industry, Essen, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, and the Hamburg area, etc., not to mention the yet undecided Saar province. Western Germany has potentialities which can be developed and which has already come into competition with Britain and U.S. on the export market. So far they have been acquitting themselves very well and some former competition with England in the export of coal, machinery and motor cars has already made itself felt. But they want to export arms which so far they are not allowed to make.
While Germany has been rapidly building up in the West, there has developed an unemployment problem partly owing to the vast numbers that have swarmed in from the East On the other hand the East claims to have no unemployment at all.
All this economic background has given rise to an immense amount of radio propaganda which one can hear any night from both Eastern and Western sections of Berlin who scream at one another news bulletins and talks on political and economic affairs until three or four o’clock in the morning. If this means hearing both sides of the question, then the Berliners are especially favoured, but what are they saying?
Firstly the Western zones request the return of the 100,000 German prisoners alleged to be still held by the Russians. When Vishinsky at the recent U.N.O. conference refused to accept the Indian proposals to end the Korean deadlock on repatriation of prisoners of war, the West lost no time in informing them that their argument that prisoners must be sent back to the country they belong or it is desertion on part of the soldiers applied also to the 100,000 Germans still in Russian camps. The Eastern zone never mentions the affair nor attempts to reply, nor indeed does the Western zone reply to what it doesn’t want to for that matter.
The Eastern propaganda is all for “PEACE,” with capital letters, against the Anglo-American Imperialism which Chancellor Adenauer is supposed to support. The words peace, freedom, nationalism, occur in every sentence, just as they did with the speeches of Hitler and his gang. The additional word “Patriotism” also adulterates almost every sentence. The Western zones can do their bit of it, but there is far less of the real chauvinistic stuff in which Russia has now definitely surpassed the Nazis at their best. One frequently hears a speaker from the Eastern zone screaming in a high pitched voice, reminiscent of Hitler, calling for German unity, national pride and patriotism; thumping the table and with all the melodramatic way employed by Adolf, and denouncing the Anglo-American Imperialism with such vehemence which seems strange alongside his peace appeals, and freedom propaganda.
Adenauer is always being exposed as anti-German, anti-patriotic, anti-nationalistic by the champions of the East, never that he is anti-working class. The Russians, with almost a sense of humour, have called Eastern Germany the “German Democratic Republic,” but as they ruthlessly suppress any independent opposition the elections there are the same farce as in Russia. They have permitted the Germans to have their own “National Hymn” which calls on Germany as the “Fatherland to unite so that they can slay enemies of the people and then the sun will shine over Germany as never before.” No mention is made of whom these enemies are supposed to be. The tune of this national hymn resembles those of the Salvation Army in their “Come to Jesus” stuff.
In Western Germany, recently, permission has been given by the allies (after many requests), to use the old favourite “Deutschland über Alles” tune again. The words have been slightly altered. It now becomes “Unity, justice, and freedom, for the Fatherland, let us strive with heart and hand.” They don't promise or recommend peace, unity, or the slaying of enemies, as the old Deutschland über Alles did, and as the Eastern Hymn now does. These anthems are sung with great vigour at the close of each radio performance, and in the case of the Eastern zone, all three verses are often sung before the programme has finished and again at the end, so much do they love it.
Russia always refers to the last war as the great Patriotic War, and not World War II. They have grafted this idea on to the Germans, or those who are left in their sections. There is always room in a vacuum for such ideas.
Recently a new political party has started in Western Germany (one starts about every month, and many have a Hitler flavour about them, and gets itself quickly suppressed). The new party is against the re-arming of Germany and against having anything to do with past or future wars or treaties with any nation. Britain and America in the West and Russia in the East will see to it that this idea does not interfere with their plans for re-arming Germany, so that they can form the front lines for their respective powers. Germany is now somewhat in the same position as Palestine of old. sandwiched between the hammer and the anvil of Babylon and Egypt.