13 APRIL 1956, Page 5


By a Correspondent Bonn IN almost any other week, the indiscretions of M. Mollet and General Gruenther would have thrown West Germany into a frenzy of political activity. As it was, this spring offensive from across the Rhine was cushioned by the black sabbath of an Adenauer absence from Bonn. General Gruenther's distorted' interview with the Neue Rhein Zeitung excited more attention in Holland than it did here. The General's subsequent correction could have raised an even greater storm : he had meant, he said, that without a full German contribution NATO forces might (regretfully) find a determined attack too hot to face east of the Rhine. There was a polite blackmail in this which, to sections of the German press. seemed like prostituting the goddess Strategy to the recruiting-sergeant; but only a slender posse of NATO-baiters showed up for duty. It was unfortunate for Herr von Brentano that this calm spell should have thrown into strong relief the Federal Foreign Office's sharp reaction to M. Mollet's views on German rearmament. Even among reliable government supporters the tone of this statement was felt to be a mistake. It came too late to be passed off as anything but a considered comment; as such it was too sententiously reproving, and had the dowdy look of last season's received idea. Dr. Adenauer is plausibly rumoured to have disliked it, and is now almost certainly assuring himself, on his sunny terrace at Ascona, of the folly of letting the least particle of political initiative out of his own hands.

What, surprisingly, emerges is how much more adaptable the eighty-year-old Chancellor is than his chosen advisers. Dr. Adenauer has never been one for fixing an exact pre- cedence between German reunification and disarmament. He now recognises that disarmament is the vogue, and has already made an attempt to get Germany in on the ground floor by crashing the London disarmament talks. Now he has clearly hit on a more effective course : he must be the one to tame Mollet and bring him back to the orthodox fold before his Moscow visit. Having exacted from the French premier an assurance of loyalty to the principle of reunification (gratitude of countrymen !), he will have prevented France from falling directly into the hands of Russia (European huzzas! ) and become the godfather of a regenerate disarmament, leaving Brentano looking inadequate and admiring at the starting- post.