18 MAY 1962, Page 10

Beastly to the Germans


T is now twenty-nine years since Hitler came I to power in Germany, eighteen years since our armies expelled the Wehrmacht from France and seventeen years since Field-Marshal Montgomery, seeing the German plenipoten- tiaries come clanking over the Ltineburg Heath, turned to a member of his staff and asked: 'Who are these men? And what do they want?'

During these seventeen years the French atti- tude towards the Germans has suffered the most profound, and profoundly significant, sea- change. Without such a change the Economic Community could scarcely have come into being. And the explanation is not mere self-interest, but can be traced in part at least to the very fact that France was occupied by the Ger- mans. From this painful and humiliating ex- perience the French learned at least two positive lessons: that all Germans are not alike (the French have never gone in for racialism much anyhow) while the Nazis' French auxiliaries, such as the Milice, were far more unpleasant, far more 'the enemy,' than the average Landser; and that if Europe were not to perish, were not to be perpetually occupied by 'the enemy,' those in favour of our civilisation must unite, regard- less of nationality.

Here there has been no such profound change. On the other hand, there has been no real need of one, at least among the majority of the people, the working class. For them the Ger- mans have never been particularly unpopular. 'Gerry' is not a term of abuse. They respect Gerry, because he gets on with the job in peace and war, has eating and drinking habits closer to our own than most other foreigners, and is, in fact, generally believed to be rather like our- selves. The hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have served with the Army of the Rhine have come home, on the whole, well disposed to- wards the Germans they met.

The attitude of the bourgeoisie is, of course, more complex. The Economic Miracle excites admiration in some, while its crasser manifesta- tions of vulgar opulence are viewed with dis- taste by others. Since 1914 the Germans have in general been regarded as our cultural and social inferiors. The fear that Germany inspired in the two wars is not forgotten, and no more are the atrocities that some Germans committed. But in general the prevalent attitude seems to have remained static for the last dozen or so years: if there's got to be a Germany, both armed and rich, and presumably there has, we'd rather have them with us than against us. This would seem a quite healthy and reasonable attitude.

Yet there are a number of people in this country who most obviously do not share this point of view, and whose extreme disagreements from it are frequently given very wide publicity. Here are a few examples.

Early this year the newly arrived German am, bassador visited Oxford, where he had been asked to make a speech one Tuesday. On the previous Sunday the East German radio announced there would be a 'spontaneous demonstration of pro' test' to greet him. And he was, in fact, insulted by a number of undergraduate hecklers. (The Emperor Augustus once proclaimed that there were to be 'spontaneous demonstrations of gratis tude to the Emperor throughout the Empire, but that Pannonia might be excused from taking part.) A few weeks later, when the Mayor of Berlis visited Britain, that fine and proven anti-Nazi was met with banners telling him that he was a Nazi, that he ought to go home and that he was a warmonger. 'No WAR FOR BERLIN. (During the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Communists adopted the Nazi slogan `MOURIB POUR DANZIG?,' thus contributing satisfactorilY tc the demoralisation of the French army.) With the impending arrival of German al' moured troops at the troop-training area in South Wales, we may expect a repetition of the demon' strations of last summer, when busloads 01 nuclear disarmers and others were imported front various parts of Britain to yell at the GermanS1 much to the annoyance of the local inhabitants, (It has not yet been established who paid Of the buses. It is not hard to guess.) And week by.week our Left-wing press delli' grates the Bonn Government, peering about eagerly for ex-Nazis under ministerial beds, and implying that because the Adenauer Govern' ment had the misfortune to start life as the residual legatee of the Hitler Government (surely one of the most horrible legacies ever inflicted on any group of men) there must be some simi• larity between the two if only 'Charon' and his like could put their finger on it. As for the Beaverbrook press, everyone in England knows it doesn't matter. But one in• cident will suffice. When some years ago Presi• dent Heuss visited this country as the 'guest of the Queen, the Daily Express reported that at a banquet held in his honour a number of per'

sons had refused to stand and drink his health. There were, J understand, three men who be- haved in this discourteous fashion. The Express omitted to state that they were all Beaverbrook journalists.

Who are these men? And what do they want?

There are a number of English people who are convinced racialists. Some dislike Negroes and Jews. Others are convinced that all Germans are born more wicked than anyone else. Ac- cording to them, all Germans are responsible for Auschwitz, even those who were not born until after the war, even, it would sometimes seem, those who were themselves camp inmates. There are, similarly, a few Irishmen who remain firmly convinced that Harold Macmillan and Hugh Gaitskell must bear the direct responsibility for the sack of Drogheda. To argue with such People is uphill work. In fact, it is such racialists themselves who are the heirs to the Nazis. Fortu- nately they are few.

The attempts by the Communist apparatus to identify Bonn with the Nazis is easier to under- stand, since by dividing the world neatly into two they can 'prove' that all their enemies are the same. And since they are anxious by all means to weaken the Western Alliance, it is only natural that they should try to exploit our hatred of Nazism in their interests. By publish- ing anti-German material in such parts of the British press as are open to them, and by or- ganising anti-German demonstrations, they may hope to stir up anti-German feeling here. Whether they succeed or not—and all the evi- dence is that they fail—they can be fairly sure Of 'picking up a bonus when such articles and demonstrations are reported in the German press. When Germans read that Oxford under- graduates shout 'Nazi!' at their ambassador and others shout the same at Willy Brandt, their opinion of the manners and intelligence of the British may be expected to decline. If such scenes are repeated enough, they may even begin to doubt the value of Britain as an ally or a colleague in Europe. This, of course, is what the apparatus wants.

Goebbels's apophthegm about the bigger the lie, the easier it is to persuade others to believe it, is here in evidence. In 1945 Germany was in spiritual and physical ruins. To think that Germany could become a decent, democratic country in less than one generation was then regarded as optimistic in the extreme. Yet that is precisely what happened, and in less than one decade, thanks in large part to the hard work and clear thought of the men who have remained the intellectual and political leaders of Germany in the ten years that have since passed. Whether we agree with all their policies or not, and they do not, of course, all agree among them- selves, few men have served the cause of free- dom and democracy as well as those men who, from the ruins, have built a decent, law-abiding, prosperous society in that part of their country Which they are allowed to control. This fact is, I think, generally recognised by all people who know anything of contemporary Germany. The Germans also happen to be our loyal allies. Is there any way that we can make it plain that those who insult them in the way I have described are either racialist psychopaths or per- 3°11S equally hostile to Germany and to Britain?