11 OCTOBER 1946, Page 1

Morale in the British Zone

The increasingly frequent reports from the British zone of Germany of cuts in electricity supplies, the shutting down of fac- tories and the spread of depression among the German population denote two things. One is the shortcomings of the economic policy of the occupying Powers (of which Britain is only one), and the other is the steadily growing tendency of the Germans to make the worst of a sufficiently bad situation. The failure of the Allies to agree on the treatment of Germany as an economic whole, to find a repara- tions formula and to decide the size of German industry, helps to make Germany a liability. But that is a failure of all the Allies. The specifically British failures seem to have been an over-rapid exhaus- tion of coal stocks and an omission to inform the Germans. The suddenness with which the difficulty of supplying power to industry has become acute has given an unpleasant shock to British observers. It is also reported that it has depressed the Germans, reacted on their industrial output even in works which. are not directly affected, and given rise to rumours that the real reason for shutting down is not fuel shortage, but the dismantling of works for reparations. All this warns careful scrutiny. The British authorities might pos- sibly have done more to explain the situation to the Germans. Nevertheless, many Germans must be quite capable of recognising the facts for themselves. And there is no excuse whatever for the

propagation of panic rumours in the face of official denials. There has recently been an increase in rations and an attempt to reduce the export of coal and power to France seems likely to succeed. The British authorities would be well advised to estimate the possible effect of these improvements on production and to note carefully whether actual production approaches the possible. It will also do well to scrutinise very nanowly any alleged failure of German morale and to think twice before accepting the blame for it. German morale is primarily controlled by Germans.