Chapter 11: Democracy in the Industrial Societies Segment 4/7
|Previous segment |Next segment | Contents | Overview ||
4. The "Great Workshops": Germany
Germany posed many of the same problems, compounded by four-power control. After the consolidation of the three Western zones in 1947, the U.S. began to move towards the partition of Germany. These steps were undertaken at the same time as the reverse course in Japan, and for similar reasons. One reason was the fear of democracy, understood in the sense of popular participation. Eugene Rostow argued in 1947 that "the Russians are much better equipped than we are to play the game in Germany," referring to the "political game"; therefore we must prevent the game from being played. Kennan had noted a year earlier that a unified Germany would be vulnerable to Soviet political penetration, so we must "endeavor to rescue Western zones of Germany by walling them off against Eastern penetration" -- a nice image -- "and integrating them into an international pattern of Western Europe rather than into a united Germany," in violation of wartime agreements. Like George Marshall and Dean Acheson, and knowledgeable analysts generally, Kennan did not expect a Soviet military attack, but rather "described the imbalance in Russian `political power' rather than `military power' as the immediate risk faced by the United States" (Schaller).17
The main problem, again, was the labor movement and other popular organizations that threatened conservative business dominance. Surveying the declassified record, Carolyn Eisenberg concludes that the fear -- indeed "horror" -- was "a unified, centralized, politicized labor movement committed to a far-reaching program of social change." After the war, German workers began to form works councils and trade unions, and to develop co-determination in industry and democratic grass roots control of unions. The State Department and its U.S. labor associates were appalled by these moves towards democracy in the unions and the larger society, with all the problems these developments would pose for the plan to restore the corporate-controlled economic order ("democracy"). The problem was heightened by the fact that in the Soviet zone, semi-autonomous works councils had been established which exercised a degree of managerial authority in de-Nazified enterprises. The British Foreign Office also feared "economic and ideological infiltration" from the East, which it perceived as "something very like aggression." It preferred a divided Germany, incorporating the wealthy Ruhr/Rhine industrial complex within the Western alliance, to a united Germany in which "the balance of advantage seems to lie with the Russians," who could exercise "the stronger pull." In interdepartmental meetings of the British government in April 1946, the respected official Sir Orme Sargent described moves towards establishing a separate Western Germany within a Western bloc as necessary, though it was agreed that they might lead to war: "the only alternative to [partition] was Communism on the Rhine," with the likely eventuality of "a German Government that would be under Communist influence." In the major scholarly monograph on the British role, Anne Deighton describes his intervention as of "critical" significance.18
The United States was determined to prevent expropriation of Nazi industrialists and was firmly opposed to allowing worker-based organizations to exercise managerial authority. Such developments would pose a serious threat of democracy in one sense of the term, while violating it in the approved sense. The U.S. authorities therefore turned to sympathetic right-wing socialists, as in Japan, while using such means as control of CARE packages, food and other supplies to overcome the opposition of rank-and-file workers. It was finally necessary to "wall off" the Western zone by partition, to veto the major union constitutions, to forcefully terminate social experiments, vetoing state (Laender) legislation, co-determination efforts, and so on. Major Nazi war criminals were recruited for U.S. intelligence and anti-resistance activities, Klaus Barbie being perhaps the best known. A still worse Nazi gangster, Franz Six, was pressed into service after his sentence as a war criminal was commuted by U.S. High Commissioner John J. McCloy. He was put to work for Reinhard Gehlen, with special responsibility for developing a "secret army" under U.S. auspices, along with former Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht specialists, to assist military forces established by Hitler in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in operations that continued into the 1950s. Gehlen himself had headed Nazi military intelligence on the Eastern front, and was reinstated as head of the espionage and counter-espionage service of the new West German state, under close CIA supervision.19
Meanwhile, as in Japan, the burden of reconstruction was placed upon German workers, in part by fiscal measures that wiped out the savings of the poor and union treasuries. "So thoroughgoing was the U.S. assault on German labor that even the AFL complained," Eisenberg comments, though the AFL had helped lay the basis for these consequences by its anti-union activities. Union activists were purged and strikes were blocked by force. By 1949, the State Department expressed its pleasure that "industrial peace had been attained," with a now docile and tractable labor force and an end to the vision of a unified popular movement that might challenge the authority of owners and managers. As Tom Bower describes the outcome in a study of the rehabilitation of Nazi war criminals, "Four years after the war, those responsible for the day-to-day management of post-war Germany were remarkably similar to the management during the days of Hitler," including bankers and industrialists convicted of war crimes who were released and restored to their former roles, renewing their collaboration with U.S. corporations.20
In short, the treatment of the two "great workshops" was basically similar.
In later years, as we have seen, the U.S. was distinctly wary of apparent Soviet initiatives for a unified demilitarized Germany and steps towards dismantling the pact system. Western European elites have been no less concerned, for the decline of East-West confrontation might "let politics loose among those people," with all of the dire effects. That has been one of the undercurrents beneath the debate of the 1980s over arms control, security issues, and the political prospects for a united Europe.
|Go to the next segment.|
17 Rostow, Kennan, cited by John H. Backer, The Decision to Divide Germany (Duke, 1978), 155-6; Schaller, American Occupation. See Anne Deighton, International Affairs, Summer 1987, on British initiatives in violation of the Potsdam Agreements.
18 Carolyn Eisenberg, "Working-Class Politics and the Cold War: American Intervention in the German Labor Movement, 1945-49," Diplomatic History, 7.4, Fall 1983; Deighton, op. cit.; Sargent, quoted from minutes in Anne Deighton, The Impossible Peace: Britain, the Division of Germany, and the Origins of the Cold War (Oxford, 1990), 73. See also Backer, op. cit., 171; Melvyn Leffler, "The United States and the Strategic Dimensions of the Marshall Plan," Diplomatic History, Summer 1988.
19 For more on these matters, see Turning the Tide, 197ff., and sources cited; Christopher Simpson, Blowback (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988). On the recruitment of Nazi scientists, see Tom Bower, The Paperclip Conspiracy (Michael Joseph, 1987), 310; John Gimbel, Science, Technology, and Reparations (Stanford, 1990). A review of the latter in Science notes that Gimbel's research "demonstrates the dubiousness of subsequent U.S. claims of commercial disinterestedness in the occupation of Germany; just like the Russians, and to a lesser degree the British and the French, the Americans seized enormous quantities of reparations from the defeated country," giving "some credence to the Russian claim that Anglo-American seizures amounted to about $10 billion," the amount demanded (but not received) by the Russians as reparations for the Nazi devastation of the USSR. Raymond Stokes, Science, June 8, 1990.
20 Eisenberg, op. cit. Bower, The Paperclip Conspiracy. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.Stumble It!