13 MARCH 1953, Page 5


INTERESTING accounts reach me of the reactions of a representative and influential group of Germans, members of most political parties but few if any of them extremists, towards the British attitude to their country as they see it. They are mystified and disappointed at the attention concentrated here on an incident like the arrest of Naumann and other neo-Nazis, compared with our indifference to the vastly more important issue of the refugee influx. Not that any complaint is made of the arrests; on the contrary; the disclosure of what has been happen- ing underground has been definitely welcomed, and so has the action which the British Occupation Authority was able to take and the German Government, bound by the Federal Constitution, was not. The general effect has been a slight but perceptible movement away from the Right parties. But the refugee problem is something quite different in character and in magnitude. The political repercussions of this ceaseless flow of homeless, foodless, workless people into West Germany is creating conditions (as the Russians no doubt realise with satisfaction) which might easily lead to a complete breakdown in administration, which would present the neo-Nazis, on a smaller scale, with such opportunities as Hitler so effectively seized. That has not happened yet. The Germans -are an immensely efficient people, and the rapid industrial expansion now in progress has provided openings which have so far kept unemployment within bounds. Indeed in spite of the armies of workless men and women pouring into the various Lander of Western Germany the unemployment total is still keeping reasonably steady. This is plainly a case in which even if countries like Britain and France cannot give much material help—and it is difficult to see how they can—understanding and tactfully expressed sympathy would make a real difference.