15 OCTOBER 1954, Page 4

The German Reaction

A massive and unambiguous majority of the Bundestag last week voted in favour of Dr. Adenauer's policy and of the London Agreement as an expression of that policy. But if the vote was not ambiguous, neither was it particularly enthu- siastic. The Social Democrat opposition in the Bundestag refused the Chancellor's plea for a united front on a question so vital to our common fatherland ' and voted against. The Free Democrats, a small but vocal party inside the Government coalition, voted in favour, but only after its chairman, Dr. Dehler, had publicly expressed the desire, with the approval of the Frankfurter Zeitung and other influential newspapers, for a new approach to the Russians before the London Agree- ment is put into effect. And the congress of West German Trade Unions last Saturday condemned the rearmament of their country by a nearly unanimous vote which included the Catholic (and normally pro-Government) unions. These symp- toms mean there is in Western Germany first, a strong antipathy to the idea of rearmament; and secondly, a universal belief that the only proper objective of German policy is the re- unification of Germany. The Trade Union vote is primarily an instance of the first. It was dictated by a fear of the political power of a German general staff on the one hand, and a belief that the current commercial success of Western Germany will be endangered by the obligation to finance re- armament on the other. The attitude of the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats illustrates the second—the conviction that West Germany must seek, v/hether it be through imme- diate negotiations with Russia or through the ultimate use of the London Agreement to improve Germany's bargaining posi- tion with Russia, reunion with its Eastern parts. How great is the force of this belief is indicated by the fact that the Western Powers found it necessary to repeat, in the London Agreement, that the reunification of Germany is a ` fundamental goal of their policy,' when every thinking man must know that if it is a fundamental goal it is also an infinitely distant one, and is inevitably made the more distant by the London Agreement itself. How to reconcile these two facts—the fact that Ger- many's chief preoccupation is with its reunification and the fact that there are at the moment no foreseeable circumstances in which Germany can be peacefully reunited must now bo the main preoccupation of Western policy in Europe.