14 APRIL 1961, Page 26

Bad in Parts

Germany Divided. By Terence Prittie. (Hutchin- son, 30s.)

TERENCE PRITTIE is the Guardian's Bonn corre- spondent—we have all read and admired his dispatches—and the title of his book seemed to indicate that here was a sensitive and authorita- tive work on post-war Germany. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Mr. Prittie's book is hardly about post-war Germany at all; its preoccupation is far more with the remnants of Nazism and German nationalism, with the racialism and anti-Semitism that have survived Hitler. At end- less length we hear of German war crimes and German failure to feel guilt about them; of German designs beyond the Oder-Neisse line; of ex-Nazis in office or biding their time in the wings, of Ruhr barons sticking to ill-gotten gains, of Krupps as much in existence as ever, of ill-judged statements by even the most democra- tic of German politicians (the incident of Presi- dent Heuss's telegram congratulating von Neurath on his release from a prison for war- criminals is recounted three times).

Fair enough, one might say, there are such things in Germany; Mr. Prittie does well to draw our attention to them. But let us look at what else Germany Divided contains. In it there is no proper analysis of the West German political parties, nor of the Federal Republic's economic situation, nor of its educational institutions nor of its intellectual life. What of art, literature and music in Germany since the war? What of science? Mr. Prittie has nothing to tell us. In the index to this book I find three references each under the names 011enhauer and Brandt, one under the name Hallstein, and no reference to the name Reuter. 'Trade Unions, United, of W.

Germany' get three mentions, the same number as is given to the European Common Market. General Otto Renter, however, founder of a small neo-Nazi party, appears five times. One cannot but ask whether his existence is really a more significant phenomenon than that of the West German trade union movement?

Of course, any book on Germany must deal with Hitler's madness and the traces it has left behind it. But any such discussion should show where its author stands on one important point : whether he regards the Nazi regime as the result of some special brand of innate wickedness in the German people or as the consequence of an exceptional combination of historical pressures and tensions. Mr. Prittie does not entirely accept the first alternative, but neither does he entirely reject it. The pages of his book abound in rather doubtful generalisations about national character and in pejorative descriptions of German atti- tudes, which could often be applied to those of any other Western country (e.g., 'Spiritual apathy and the frantic quest for material gain were be- coming the dominant features of German think- ing and living'—a sentence that could come straight out of a Tribune leader on Mr. Macmil- lan's England). Then, suddenly, he will produce a `good German,' one just man, or reflect that a new generation is growing up in Germany. but this hardly restores the balance. No doubt, if you believe in unchanging national characters rather than in changing political and social circum- stances, then you will scan contemporary Ger- many for signs of Nazism much as a doctor scans a patient for the first appearance of a hereditary disease. But the pity of it is that, in so doing, you may miss the most interesting evidence of growth and, by keeping your eyes turned towards the past, may fail to observe the shaping of the future.