27. November 1954: The West must not relax its vigilance

By Dr. Konrad Adenauer, German Federal Chancellor

The internecine wars of recent decades have made Europe an impotent continent. Since during the same time two technological world Powers, the United States and Soviet Russia have risen up, no European country can any longer hope to acquire economic and political importance by itself. Unless Europe coalesces, all its various nations will in the short or long run ultimately become satellites of the Soviet Russian colossus. To prevent this must be the goal of any European policy. The Federal Republic of Germany has from its start pursued the objective of European integration and will continue to strive for its realization.

I am firmly convinced that the West will yet recover the unity it almost lost last summer. Once this is accomplished it will be possible to negotiate with Soviet Russia concerning a general relaxation of tension. Moscow will not negotiate honestly as long as it sees any prospect of dividing the West. It will only change its course after these hopes have been definitely proved to be vain. Let no one think that Soviet Russia on her part is without highly troublesome problems. She cannot continue indefinitely to arm at the same rate as at present; she cannot in the long run supply both its population with enough food from her all too limited agricultural areas as well as Red China with industrial products. To do justice to both these tasks exceeds her economic strength. And this is known in Soviet Russia, too.

A Success of the West

There is one point that should not be overlooked by the free peoples. In connection with the world-wide discussion concerning the new conference proposals of the Soviet Union, Moscow, to the general surprise and in sharp contrast to her previous attitude, indicated that Soviet Russia was opposed neither to the North Atlantic Treaty nor to participation by the United States in European collective security. I look upon this change of mind on the part of Moscow as a direct result of our western policy as affirmed by the Conferences of London and Paris.

On no account, however, should the western Powers relax their vigilance now, for the Soviet menace hat not yet receded. Let no one be deceived by fair words spoken on festive occasions. The two latest Soviet Russian notes are much more revealing than any after-dinner toasts. Thus, for instance, Moscow has not declared its readiness to permit free elections throughout Germany as a preliminary to reunification. Moscow on the contrary is prepared only to discuss such elections. What may be expected along these lines has been demonstrated by the recent elections in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany. There the voters were conducted willy-nilly to the polling stations, and having entered, they were advised by posters: "All those in favour of peace will cast their ballots openly; all those opposed to peace will vote by secret ballot." In these elections there were no candidates to be voted on, but only one single list, and this list had to be "elected". An eye-witness told me that the inhabitants of the Soviet zone whom he talked to during those days said to him that they had never felt so humiliated as during the hours when they were conducted to the polling stations like cattle. Herr Ulbricht, however, one of the leading communist functionaries in the Soviet zone explained shortly after these "elections" that they were the model on which the free elections for German reunification would be held ...

West German policies are expressly designed to contribute to a general reduction of tension throughout the world. We are firmly convinced that an easing of tension will also facilitate the reunification of Germany in peace and freedom. The establishment of the Western European Union is a step in the direction of such a relaxation of tension. This Union's substance is not only military, but just as much cultural and economic, and it will therefore lead to European integration.

Real Collective Security

To be sure, the defence necessities of the Western European Union could not be left out of consideration, for the Soviet Union has no fewer than 160 divisions, all facing the West, in addition to between 60 and 70 satellite divisions likewise facing westward. It cannot be forgotten that country after country has fallen victim to the East since 1945: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania and others have been robbed of their freedom one by one.

We in West Germany are not opposed to a conference with the Soviet Union designed to create a true collective security system for Europe. This establishment of such a system would be a tremendous relief for Europe and the entire world. It would necessarily have to result also in German reunification. But such a conference must be carefully prepared, for it must not turn out a failure, which would make things even worse than they had been before.

What counts decisively for the Federal Republic of Germany is the fact that we are linked in friendship with the American and British peoples. I am convinced that we are also making good progress in liquidating all our differences with France. This, in turn, raises our hopes that we have come a good deal nearer our goal of creating a United Europe.

Quelle: Deutsche Korrespondenz (englische Edition) vom 27. November 1954.