Full Citation

  • Title Germany, Divided to Unite
  • Author Reves, Emery
  • Publication Title The Sunday Times
  • Collection The Sunday Times Digital Archive, 1822-2006
  • Date Sunday,  Oct. 1, 1961
  • Issue Number 7220
  • Page Number 12
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
Germany, Divided to Unite N EGOTIATIONS between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union on Berlin and the existence of the East German State have started at last—unfortunately , two years too late and under less favourable cir - cumstances for the Western Powers than even three months ago. There is no use repeating that we shall not negotiate under threat—it remains a sad fact that if tbe Com - munists had not erected a wall, ending all communications between East and West Berlin, and if the Soviet Government had not ex - ploded a great number of nuclear megaton bombs, we would probably still be indulging in the daydream that by " standing firm," by not doing anything, we could advance our case. On July 2 last, The Sunday Times published an article of mine sug - gesting a solution of the Berlin problem by recognising the exist - ence of the East German State, pro - vided that in exchange for this tremendous concession the Soviet Union would recognise our rights in West Berlin and guarantee the absolute freedom of our communi - ca tions by giving us a twenty - five - mile - broad corridor connecting West Berlin with Western Germany. This article provoked widespread reactions in many countries. * * * TTERR WILLY BRANDT, the dis - tinguished Mayor of West Berlin, in his letter to The Sunday Times, and Herr Ernst Lemmer, Federal Minister for all-German Affairs, in his article published in the Swiss weekly, " Die Welt - woche ," commenting upon my proposals, emphasised the same argument, thus: Herr Brandt: The legalisation of the division of Germany would mean that the West was not only violating the principle of self - deter mination but in effect abandon - inn it. Herr Lemmer: By the recognition of the Soviet zone as a sovereign State thc free peoples of the West would confirm that the oppression by the Soviets of a hundred million Europeans in the Central and Eastern European States is legalised and permanent. . . . The recogni - tion of the demarcation line in Ger - many as " permanent" would drive the total population of the Central and East European States into bottomless resignation and hope - less ness . If this is so, then why does the recognition as sovereign States of Poland, Czechoslovakia; Hungary, Rumania and -Bulgaria have no such effect? * . * . * WHAT is sovereignty ? And what is the meaning of self - deter - mination ? The " sovereignty of a nation means the untrammelled and supreme right of a nation, organised in a State, to determine its own actions . The principle of self - determination of nations is nothing but a part of the concept of national sovereignty. In spreading all over the world the principle of national self-determination , it be - came an accepted ritual to acknow - ledge the self-determination of a group of people by recognising the formation of a sovereign State. How, then, can the recognition of national sovereignty mean the non-recognition of self - determina - tion ? On the contrary, the recognition by the Western Powers of the sovereignty of Eastern Germany implies the recognition of the right of the East German people to self-determination . That in .a Communist satellite State both " self-determination" and " sovereignty" are meaningless concepts is another story. How - ever , the problem is not scientific and theoretical, but political and emotional, and that makes it much more difficult. In their 1,000-year-long history the German peoples were united in one State for only seventy-four years, from Bismarck to Hitler. Was this three-quarters of a century the greatest and happiest period in the history of the.' German people ? It brought them two humiliating military defeats and the Hitler dictatorship , for which the over - whelming majority of the present German generation feels . deeply ashamed. The height of German achievements in the arts, in p hilo - sophy , in scholarship , were reached before the unification of Germany in 1871. And the greatest, righ tly - called miraculous, achievements of German industry, cornmerce and finance were accomplished during the past fifteen years.by a Germany again divided. . * * * TTERR : BRANDT and . Herr Lemmer are right in saying that Berlin is not an isolated problem but the consequence of the division of Germany. But it is no use charging the Russians with that division. They succeeded in exploiting a military victory according to the ancient rules of the struggle for power between sovereign States. The Germans and the Western Powers can blame no one but them - selves for the present situation in Germany . The Germans must not forget that under the leadership of Hitler they attacked their neigh - bours and waged for five years a brutal, barbaric war which they finally lost. Such a grave historical error cannot be committed without certain consequences. And the Western powers must not forget that they are responsible for the existing zoning of Berlin and: Germany . The German people should further realise that the division of Germany has been at the same time their punishment and their salva - tion , Germany is divided today because the grand alliance of the second world war broke down simultaneously with the military collapse of Nazi Germany. Had this break-up not occurred, there would be no German army today, the living standards-of the West German people would not be higher than those in East Germany, German exports would not be conquering world markets and Germany would not have the fastest-growing and strongest economic system in the world. Only the division of Ger - many , created by the clash between East and West, made the miraculous resurrection of Western Germany possible. * . * * T^HE incontrovertible fact is that today there is only- one Power and one Power alone, which can accomplish the reunification of Ger - many , and this is the Soviet Union, for the simple reason that the Soviet Union entirely controls Eastern Germany. A reunification of Ger - many today is conceivable only on Soviet terms. This obviously is not the desire of the Federal Republic. Reunification the other way round can be achieved only by patience and evolution—or by the military defeat of the Soviet Union. President Kennedy's advisers have been reported as insisting on a "free vote" in East Germany lest the West German people turn to Russia to achieve reunification. I am afraid the exact opposite may happen. If we permit the German people to be more and more domin - ated by the emotional desire for reunification we shall make it more and more probable that one day they will make a deal with the Soviet Union in order to satisfy their irrational emotions. There is no question of recognis - ing East Germany without obtaining for this enormous concession a fair price. I ventured to suggest as a price a 25-mile-broad corridor con - nec ting West Berlin with the Federal Republic which would give us com - plete freedom of communication to our zones in Berlin. Such a situation, promising at least a few years of tranquillity, may well be " the first realistic step towards a reunification. * * * gY taking a " firm stand " during the past two years, refusing any change in the Berlin status quo and declining to discuss with the Soviet Government the conditions of a peace treaty with Eastern Germany, we have gravely weakened our position. Time was not working for us. It rarely does for those who are unable to boldly , take advantage of a passing opportunity.- ' - Now we may well be forced to recognise the East German State and be satisfied with a ' ' guarantee " of free communications with our Berlin zones. Such a deal would amount to a defeat for the Western Powers. For in the present stage of historical evolution no sovereign power can rely on the treaty obligations of another sovereign power. To create at least a few years of respite in Berlin and Germany, the Western negotiators should insist that , if they agree to recognise an East German State as a fact which cannot be escaped, they should get in exchange a sufficiently broad free road to West Berlin, a corridor, under Western sovereignty, occu - pied by Western troops. By EMERY WVES, author of 'The , Anatomy of Peace'