Cold War in Germany

by Wilfred G. Burchett

World Unity Publications, Australia, 1951

     I     East-West Train
    II    Allied Control Council
   III    Clay Wrecks Currency Reform
   IV    Food Crisis Myth
    V    Land Reform East
   VI    Land Reform West
  VII    Berlin Revisited
 VIII   Von Papen's Protege
   IX    Occupation Capital
    X    The Trust-Savers
   XI   Germany Safe for Capitalism
  XII   Garrulous Warmongers
 XIII   Protokol M
 XIV   The Non-Socialisation of the Ruhr
  XV   Disarming Germany
  XVI  East-West Occupation Aims
 XVII Wreckers of Potsdam
XVIII Berlin and Bonn


Five years after the war against Fascism, the world is divided into two camps again. Under the guise of an Atlantic Pact of "defence" an anti-Cominform Pact has been signed by the Western Powers as dangerous to world peace as the anti-Comintern Pact of Hitler and Mussolini. The reasons given by the American and British architects of the pact are the same as those given by Hitler and Mussolini, architects of the anti-Comintern Pact – to defend peace and halt Soviet aggression.

In the United States particularly, supporters of the pact use similar language, and phrases as belligerent, as those used by Hitler and Goebbels when they called for a world crusade against the Soviet Union.

Open attempts are made to line up the defeated Fascist states on the side of America and Britain in another attempt to destroy the Soviet' Union and the Socialist states set up in Western Europe as a consequence of the defeat of Hitler Fascism. Germany, Japan and Italy are expected to supply much of the man-power in a renewed assault against the Soviet Union.

A bewildered man-in-the-street in England rubs his eyes and asks himself how and why such a state of things has come about. He rubs his eyes in astonishment when he reads that Germany, Italy and Japan, newly democratised and' Christianised, are now the "good" countries and must be his allies against the "wicked” red Russians. Government propaganda from the West, repeated in sections of the press, tells him he is menaced by the same forces which in the hour of England's greatest danger, he recognised as his greatest friends and deliverers. Twice in 35 years Russian forces have combined with British to resist German aggression. In World War II, the Soviet Army saved Britain from defeat. But now the fighting is over, the man-in-the-street is told he must make sacrifices to build a strong Germany against the Russian Reds.

He knows Soviet "red" remained the same colour before, during and after the war, and that it never did him or the English people any harm. But he is asked to believe that Nazi "black" has been transformed into a democratic and Christian "white." Despite strenuous efforts by Britain, led by Mr. Churchill, to destroy Soviet power in its infancy 30 years ago, the Soviet Union has not menaced Britain and has not menaced America. But, less than five years after Germany's attempt to enslave the world and turn Western Europe and England into slave colonies was defeated primarily by Soviet power, American and. British intriguers in Washington, London and Berlin, deliberately destroyed the basis for continued four-power unity; deliberately tried to turn the world against the Soviet Union, and even tried to stage incidents which could have led to a new world war. The primary excuse given was to save Germany from Bolshevism; stop the "red flood" from advancing to the Rhine.

Part of the purpose of this book is to expose these intrigues as I watched them develop, day by day, during over three years of reporting for an English national newspaper in Germany, after the end of the war.

The deliberate and sustained effort to turn the American and British people against the Soviet Union came as no surprise to any observers who spent, as I did, the war years among American and British professional officers in many parts ofthe world during World War II. The deep uneasiness they felt when fresh arrivals fromhome brought news ofthe pro-Soviet feeling at the inspiring Russian victories, was a bad omen for post-war developments. How many times did I hear in officers' clubs in India: "It's dreadful the way everybody's gone 'Bolshie' at home, old boy. Bad outlook forafter the war." Later one heard the same types relate with deep satisfaction in the officers' clubs in Berlin: "When our lads get back from here with the Russian atrocity stories they've picked up from the Germans it'll soon stop all this pro-Russian nonsense." The "glorious and gallant" ally feeling died away among the professional officer class, before the last shots had been fired on the Western Front.

That there were good grounds for the "pro-Russian nonsense" right up until the last days ofthe war was admitted often enough fromthe very highest sources. As so much has been "forgotten" during the past five years, one is tempted to quote from the exchange oftelegrams between Mr. Churchill and Mr. Stalin in January, 1945, when British and American armies were faced with another Dunkirk.

While part ofBritish strength had been diverted to Greece to suppress the ELAS/EAM forces, which had borne the brunt ofthe fight against the Germans, von Rundstedt opened his Ardennes campaign, smashing through the Allied lines in a blitz offensive. He smashed the American 1st Army with his first blows, pressed on in the direction ofLiege, and was in a fair way to break through to Antwerp, isolating the American 9th, the Canadian 1st, and British 6th armies. The Allies were faced with a dreadful defeat with the prospect ofanother Dunkirk and the evacuation oftheir forces fromthe Continent. The Americans alone lost 90,000 killed and wounded.

On January 6th, Mr. Churchill begged Stalin for help. One could imagine that Mr. Stalin, having waited for three years for a second front to take some ofthe strain off the Soviet armies, might have been content to allow Mr. Churchill to wait. He was well aware ofthe bitter objections put up by the British Prime Minister toevery proposal fora second front. When Roosevelt pressed foraction, Churchill grudgingly gave assent to a second front – but in the Balkans. Even after the date was finally fixed forthe landings in France, they were twice postponed. Mr. Stalin must have been well informed about opinions in Washington and London that it was best to let the Germans and Russians slog away at each other until both sides were exhausted. The Western Allies could then step into Europe and take over the role ofpoliceman in the whole of Europe and dictate terms ofeconomic help to a broken Russia, which would force her to abandon the Soviet system. These views were well enough publicised in the American press forMr. Stalin to have had them in mind when he received Mr. Churchill's call forhelp in January, 1945. Stalin's armies were resting on the Vistula, having advanced 1,800 kilometres (1,200 miles) fromStalingrad.

"Very serious battles are taking place in the West,” cabled Mr. Churchill, "'and the Supreme Commander may be forced at any moment to take grave decisions." He begged Stalin to start an offensive on the Vistula front "or any other point during the month ofJanuary."

Stalin received the message on the evening of the 7th, and replied within a few hours, the same night. He pointed out that the weather was unfavourable forthe Russians to exploit their superiority in aviation and artillery; that they were preparing an offensive, but in view of Mr. Churchill's plea, he would speed up preparations regardless ofweather conditions.

He promised an offensive in the second half ofJanuary at the latest. "You can be sure," he concluded, "that we shall do everything possible to aid the glorious troops of our Allies."

Mr. Churchill replied on the 9th, thanking Stalin forhis moving message."

Marshal Stalin was better than his word. The great Soviet offensive fromthe Baltic Sea to the Carpathian mountains rolled into action on January 12 – still in the first half of the month, five days after Churchill's request had been received. One hundred and fifty Soviet divisions, took the offensive, smashed through the German lines and flung the Germans back in some places hundreds of kilometres in a few days. The Rundstedt offensive was stopped in its stride. The 5th and 6th German panzer armies were rushed to the Eastern Front; pressure on the retreating allied armies was immediately relieved. After a breathing spell they were able to take the offensive again.

Churchill was full of gratitude on 'this occasion, and on January 17 sent a telegram to Stalin expressing gratitude and congratulations from "His Majesty's Government and from my own heart.”

The great service rendered by Marshal Stalin's armies was afterwards to be paid by Mr. Churchill in other coin, in his Fulton speech demanding a world line-up against the Soviet Union. Mr. Churchill switched in fact as quickly as he did after World War I, when he sent his armies of intervention to destroy the Soviet revolution.

This exchange of telegrams between Churchill and Stalin three months before the war ended is now history, but it has been little publicised. It is worthwhile repeating to-day to remind the British people that the "pro-Russian nonsense" was well-founded. Part of the purpose of this book is to show that just as Marshal Stalin kept faith with the Western Allies in J945 – and indeed throughout the war – so did his administrators keep faith in trying to carry out allied agreements in Germany in the years after the war. The failure was not on their side.

Western administrators in Germany, with help from London and especially Washington, took part in a deliberate conspiracy to split the world into two camps; to destroy the goodwill of the masses in America and Great Britain towards the Soviet Union; to deprive the Soviet Union of the reparations due to her; to isolate her from the western world. There was a deliberate conspiracy to restore the regime of the Junkers and Ruhr industrialists in Germany; to prevent any of the social reforms long overdue in Germany, and there was a conspiracy to prepare Germany for a future base of aggression against the Soviet Union. Some facts relating to this conspiracy are contained in official United States documents quoted in the chapters which follow.

The Soviet Union is charged before the bar of world opinion, by the Western Powers as being responsible for all the breakdowns in international relationships; the great barrier to unity and understanding. The leading statesmen of the western world have all accepted the roles of counsel for the prosecution. A large proportion of the western press and other organs of information and propaganda are submitting evidence for the prosecution, which is neither challenged nor cross-examined. It is evidence which is being used to build up a case for war against the Soviet Union, which is war against the whole of humanity.

This book goes in as evidence for the counsel for defence. It is but justice that the character of the witnesses upon whose unchallenged evidence world statesmen are basing their judgments, should be revealed and the value of their evidence determined by their activities as I watched them in Germany.

I can see the word "traitor" forming on some lips as the book is read. It will be charged that some material should not have been published, some secrets not revealed "in the public interest." As I interpret the role of a journalist or writer, his duties far transcend those contracted with his newspaper or publisher, or those wished on him by Foreign Office or State Department. His wider duties are to the general public, and in times of peace, that means the world public. This conception needs restating to-day when there is an increased tendency to turn correspondents into political warfare agents.

Those who cry "traitor" because information revealed does not suit the Foreign Office or State Department, might well ponder whether the latter always follow policies which are in the best interests of their own peoples and those of the world at large. My own belief, for instance, is that Mr. Bevin’s foreign policies have been and are still every whit as dangerous for the people of Great Britain and for the peace of the world, as were the policies of the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain during the period from Spain to Munich. I should be very loath indeed to suppress information because it conflicted with the policies of Mr. Bevin; but more and more in recent years correspondents are expected to suppress such information.

History will one day decide who were the traitors in Germany from 1945 onwards. Traitors were those who betrayed the hopes of the whole progressive world for peace and continued co-operation with the Soviet .union. Traitors were those who betrayed the policies on which they were elected by the general public in America and Britain. Traitors were those who sabotaged the policies of their own governments while acting as administrators in Germany. Traitors were those who evaded even orders given by their own military governors in Germany when these orders conflicted with the interests of Anglo-American and German capitalism. These are the traitors, not those who disclose their intrigues. Some of them are named in the chapters which follow; their actions are clearly traced and documented. They are guilty men who should be content that they live in countries where a too generous view is taken of public servants who betray the trust vested in them.

A book at this stage can only lift a tiny corner of the curtain covering the intrigues and machinations of agents of a hundred conflicting vested interests, parading in the uniforms of generals, colonels and control commission officials. They were sent to Germany to ensure that Nazism should be eliminated; that German reparation be made for part of the crimes committed; to ensure that German militarism be destroyed and that Germany should never again disturb the peace of the world. From the western side these aims were lost sight of in the first months of occupation. Indeed they were at variance with the personal views of most of the top-ranking control commission personnel. The task for them seemed to be to find some way of avoiding the implementing of the Potsdam decisions, without officially disowning Potsdam.

The Russians from first to last had a clear line of policy based word for word on the Potsdam decisions. Their policy was to destroy the traditional base of German militarism by dispossessing the Junkers and industrialists; to demilitarise their zone; to exact reparations as promised; give the land to the peasants and the industries to public ownership; punish the war criminals and drive the Nazis out of every public office. Every action taken in their zone was taken with a view to security, and was in accord with the principles of Potsdam and the needs of world peace.

American policy under General Lucius Clay swung in a 180 degree curve from the Morgenthau plan of ruthless destruction of industry and the transformation of Germany into an agricultural state to the Marshall Plan and the Atlantic Pact of restoring her heavy industry; giving her priority in dollar help to contribute to the rearmament of Europe.

British policy vacillated from an early independent line and promises of socialisation in the Ruhr to such complete subservience to the Americans that the Military Governor, General Robertson, was dubbed by wits, "The General with Feet of Clay."

While these remarkable contortions and somersaults were being performed by the western team, the world public was deceived into believing that it was the Russians who were behaving in such an astonishing fashion. Every western departure from Potsdam was preluded by a shower of reproaches about some fresh Russian "betrayal." As the press were excluded from all four-power meetings, the public received only such information as carefully-briefed press officers were permitted to give us; information which invariably presented the Russians as "hopeless villains." Only when some American officials, left over from the Roosevelt New Deal days, reported back to Washington on some of the "goings on" and commissions of enquiry were appointed, did facts come to light which showed just how much press and public were being fooled. The full story, however, will only be told when full minutes of all four-power meetings are published.

Unfortunately no such commissions of enquiry were set up to check on the activities of British administrators. Recently, however, the British press has started to send up alarm signals about the growth of nationalism and anti-British feeling in the western zones. Nationalism, of course, was "healthy" so long as it was directed against the Russians or Poles – but how did it get out of hand?

The press might well ask and keep on asking and even demand a commission of enquiry to determine how all this came .about. The answer would be that apart from a few conscientious officials, the administration in Germany, with the help of the British Foreign Office, turned its backs on the main principles of Potsdam and have rebuilt in Western Germany exactly the same type of state which handed over power to Hitler. The men of Bonn are the men of the Ruhr barons, with much more open support from American financial interests than even Hitler had in the early days. An aggressive, nationalist Fourth Reich has been set up, lacking only the weapons to set out on the road to conquer Eastern Germany, then the lands beyond the Oder-Neisse Line, Sudetenland, and on to the old "Drang Nach Osten." They talk about it openly already. That is what the conspiracy has accomplished thus far, but even this is short of the target which some of the "lunatic fringe," particularly at U.S. headquarters in Berlin, had hoped for. The division of Germany, the tearing up of Potsdam, the setting up of a neo-Nazi regime, is a long way behind the target which had been set for the end of 1949.

The more sinister stage of the conspiracy was to plunge the world into a third world war over Germany. The representatives of the pro-war set in Washington and Berlin knew the difficulties of formally starting an aggressive war. Only Congress can declare war. Even Truman, with his extremely wide powers, cannot declare war without first receiving congressional approval. General Clay and his entourage, supported by War Department big-wigs from the late War Minister Forrestal downwards, plotted against the State Department, against Congress, and against the American people for an early war.

The only way to get America into war was to get the war started first, and seek Congressional approval after. Clay was certain he would not be let down. And that was the meat and bones of the conspiracy in Berlin. "We'll make of Berlin a Pearl Harbor," quoted Clay more than once to his confidantes. With fighting started in or for Berlin, he was sure public opinion could be swung around to his support. That is why he fought tooth and nail against any settlement of the Berlin question. With the connivance of the War Department, General Clay had powers wide enough to start a shooting war. The British, and even more so the French, were a little nervous when it came to the point of the first shots to be fired, and General Clay's scheme for sending an armed task force to "bust its way from Helmstedt to Berlin" was received coldly by his allies, and even more frigidly by the U.S. State Department when it got to hear about it.

Fortunately a breathing-space for world peace was won by a heavy vote in favor of peace in the United States when voters rejected the Republican presidential candidate at the November, 1948, elections. One of the most vocal of the pro-war clique, the late Secretary of Defence James Forrestal, went completely mad and committed suicide, others including Forrestal's assistant, General Draper, Minister for the Army Royall, General Clay, and the Commandant of Berlin, Brigadier-General Howley, were either removed from their posts by an anxious Truman, or resigned because their policies were outdated or premature. History will show whether "outdated" or "premature" is the correct description of the Clay strategy.

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