Oktober 1962: The German Problem, a World Problem

By Konrad Adenauer

I write this article not long after my visit to France, where I spent seven eventful days of great political importance. One essential purpose of my visit was to demonstrate to the German and French peoples and, indeed, to the whole world that the reconciliation between the two neighboring peoples on both sides of the Rhine has now become a reality.

President de Gaulle called it a "miracle". And indeed, ten years ago very few people would have dared to hope that the two nations, which fought one another for centuries, would extend the hand of friendship so soon after a terrible war in order jointly to tackle the tasks before them. The solidarity now existing between France and Germany is the result of long and courageous efforts on both sides. On the French side the work was begun by Robert Schuman; with great prudence and energy President de Gaulle has brought it to its conclusion and, I may say, to its crowning glory. The extraordinary characteristic of this development, however, lies in the fact that broad sections of both peoples seized upon the idea and supported the efforts of their governments. The ever-increasing friendliness and open-mindedness with which the French everywhere welcomed the German Federal Chancellor from Paris via Rouen and Bordeaux up to Reims have shown the broad basis on which Franco-German solidarity now rests.

Germany and France have become aware of what they have in common - their histories, their interests and their responsibilities. From now on they will be still closer together. The feeling of solidarity will be embedded still deeper in the conscience of the nations and will one day be natural to all. President de Gaulle is visiting the Federal Republic this autumn, and by the time my words are printed, the German people will have shown him how dearly they cherish the friendship with France. This friendship is directed against no one in the free world; it will be to the advantage of all. Europe can only benefit if the two neighboring countries in the heart of Europe are closely united. France and Germany will form a firm political dam against the advance of Soviet Communism which threatens the freedom of us all.

II

Franco-German solidarity is also the foundation for the edifice of European unification. The policy of European union is in an important stage of development.

The success of the policy of European unification through the work of the Coal and Steel Community, the European Economic Community and Euratom constitutes one of the great achievements by which during the last few years the West has proved its vitality. The Common Market of the Six has been realized to a great extent. The internal customs tariffs have already been reduced by 50 percent and will disappear completely within the next few years. Joint action is undertaken in important fields such as agricultural, social and transport policy. In recent years the rate of growth of the Gross National Product was higher in the European Economic Community than in the Soviet Union.

That our policy is right is confirmed by the fact that states which had stood aside now seem to be prepared to assume the responsibilities of the Treaties of Paris and Rome in order to share the advantages of economic integration. Britain, Denmark, Norway and Ireland have already applied for membership. Other states will follow, while still others are considering association with the Community. The most important negotiations - those with Great Britain - are well under way and we hope they will succeed. Their outcome will greatly influence the envisaged negotiations with other countries.

The European Economic Community intends to pursue a liberal external trade policy. It does not aim at secluding Europe but rather at creating the basis for an extension of world trade to the benefit of all trading nations by strengthening Europe economically. In particular we also desire close cooperation with the United States in the field of trade policy. In this connection I welcome the Trade Expansion Act, introduced by President Kennedy and already passed by the House of Representatives, which authorizes the President to reduce customs tariffs.

Finally, the economic integration of Europe will encourage assistance for the developing countries. We desire to improve the effectiveness of this assistance, which is intended to enable the emergent countries to make their own development efforts.

The economic integration of Europe, in spite of its great value, is not by itself sufficient. It is necessary for Europe to create a strongly coordinated policy with regard to vital problems, and especially in foreign policy. That is the basic idea of the plan to establish a Union of European States which will intensify the existing cooperation in the political field. All six countries agree that the "European policy" must be vigorously continued and that if possible the negotiations regarding the European political union must be brought to a conclusion this year. Any delay in the efforts toward European unification would tend to paralyze the dynamic power of our political development and would stimulate the Soviet Union's hope to divide the free world. The Union of European States as envisaged will at first be a relatively loose structure. However, we are aware even now that the form of political cooperation must continuously become closer during the next few years.

It has always been a great encouragement to us to know that the Administrations of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy, with the strong support of each of their Secretaries of State and of the American people, have sincerely wished to foster the policy of European unification. The United States recognized very early after the war that the free world could not exist unless Europe was unified and strong. The same recognition will also guide us in our future action.

III

Europe could not and cannot achieve unification all by itself; it requires the support of the Atlantic Alliance, another great success of our common policy. Since NATO came into existence, Communism has not been able to make further progress in Europe. The defensive power of the free world organized under NATO safeguards peace and preserves the traditions of our peoples. The security of America and Europe is today indivisible.

The Atlantic Alliance has achieved a high degree of cooperation in the field of defense. The objective of this Alliance is that the partners in it, all of whom are subject to the same dangers, shall contribute to the collective strength according to their capacity. Since NATO was established, the United States, by its efficiency and the sacrifices of its soldiers and taxpayers, has provided the decisive contribution to common security. This is gratefully recognized by the German people.

From the time it joined NATO, the Federal Republic of Germany has consistently raised its defense contributions in accordance with the defined objectives. It will continue to do everything in its power to provide its prescribed share for common defense.

NATO, a proven instrument, must remain effective and flexible in order to meet all requirements. The decisions of the NATO Ministerial Conference in Athens have shown that the Alliance is also able to meet newly emerging problems. I am convinced that on the difficult problem of control of the common deterrent a settlement can be found that is satisfactory both to America and the European states.

NATO was bora out of the need to defend the common ideals of the free world against the Soviet threat. Its military organization, therefore, is not an end in itself. It is based on a close unity of the states on both sides of the Atlantic who share the same basic views on the meaning of life and the mission of man throughout the world. This strong link must be intensified in all fields.

IV

The free world united in the Atlantic Alliance is threatened by the ruthless efforts of Soviet Communism to expand its power and its system. The Soviet Union is trying by every means to weaken the West and to drive it back. It changes the form, the intensity and the theatre of its efforts, but never allows the free world to settle in peace.

The Soviets sustain their policy of threats and extortion by a great military potential, both conventional and nuclear. That they could not score any major success recently is due to the fact that the West has developed a credible deterrent policy. The strength of the West today is so great that the Soviet leaders obviously do not contemplate the possibility of an all-out war in order to achieve their objectives. They express this through the doctrine of a so-called "coexistence". Although this doctrine manages to find room for "wars of liberation", it does imply that all-out war between the two power blocs is avoidable.

We must be fully aware, nevertheless, that these Soviet tactics are only a result of Western strength and that the Soviets would revert to a more aggressive policy if ever the readiness and alertness of the free world were relaxed. It is our chief obligation, therefore, to maintain Western unity and strength. If we can do this convincingly the Soviet leaders will one day realize, I hope, that to maintain tension is not conducive to success, nor does it serve their interests in the long run. Today the Soviet Union pays out huge sums for armaments and for anti-Western activities. We hope that the leaders of the Soviet Union will not permanently be able to withhold from the Russian people the fruits of their work as a result of a pointless policy of tension. If we maintain our unity and strength, and remain patient, we will lay the foundation for serious negotiations with the Soviet Union based on respect for the vital interests and the freedom of peoples. This is a policy of reason, the only one that can preserve freedom and peace.

At the present time East-West tension is concentrated in and around Berlin. This is particularly distressing for us Germans. By repeated threats and intimidations the Soviet Union is endeavoring to remove the Western powers from the position they have held for 17 years in the free part of Berlin. The Berlin crisis has now lasted for almost four years. Its course has shown that the Soviets want to avoid a military conflict. They obviously believe, however, that they can undermine the morale of the Ber-liners and the firm attitude of the Western powers by constant disturbances. Hence, Berlin has become a test case for the determination and patience of the free world.

There are people in the West who, having become weary of the constant burden of the Berlin problem, recommend that concessions be made to the Soviet Union. Such views do not take into consideration the decisive aspect of the whole problem. In the first place, it is a question of the destiny of millions of people. West Berlin must be held not only because 2,500,000 people live there but also because the confidence and the hope of 17,000,000 Germans in the Soviet-occupied zone depend on the West to stand by their principles in Berlin. The German Federal Government, which also speaks for the Germans under Soviet domination, must point out that the free world also bears responsibility for them. Our awareness of this obligation is kept permanently alive by the Berlin Wall, that abominable monument of terror. The wall, which transformed the Soviet-occupied zone into a huge prison, is an expression of inhumanity signifying suffering and hardship for millions of people. But it also concerns the reputation of the United States throughout the free world. The United States has given its word. The whole world knows that it will keep it.

The Berlin problem, just like the German problem, is in the last analysis a human one. This is why a starting point for a solution could be found in that sphere. If our countrymen in the Soviet-occupied zone are granted decent living conditions and at least a certain amount of freedom and self-determination, we shall be open to discussion on a good many points.

V

The disarmament problem is a central problem of world politics. The tensions sharpened by Soviet actions have necessarily given rise to an ever-faster armaments race. Both the Soviet Union and the United States possess great stocks of weapons capable of wreaking mass extermination and unimaginable devastation. It is in our urgent interest to remove this terrible possibility by general and controlled disarmament.

In the disarmament conference which has been under way in Geneva since March 14 of this year, the United States has submitted extremely far-reaching and well-considered disarmament plans which we emphatically support. The Soviet proposals, on the other hand, again and again aim at shifting the military equilibrium in favor of the Eastern bloc. This applies in particular to the plans for regional disarmament and so-called atom-free zones in Central Europe, by which it is intended to weaken European defense, as well as to the Soviet refusal to agree to any kind of control, for fear that inspection would remove the secrecy of the closed Soviet system in contrast to the open system of the free world. It seems that the Soviets again wish to use the present disarmament conference only as a vehicle for propaganda.

Despite all disappointments, the efforts of the Western powers to find ways and means leading to disarmament must be energetically continued. Our hope must be that consistency on the part of the West in the disarmament field will convince the Soviets of the necessity to enter into serious negotiations which take into account the interests of both sides.

VI

I do not wish to conclude without saying a few words about American-German relations and the role of the United States.

When, after the last terrible war, Germany lay conquered and beaten on the ground, it was the Western occupation powers, led by the United States, that lent us a helping hand. The economic assistance provided by the American Government and many hundreds of thousands of private American citizens was important; it contributed to our survival and the reconstruction of our country. But still more valuable was the human spirit underlying this attitude. It is rare in history that the victor helps the defeated enemy to his feet and is prepared to accept him as an equal if he proves his worth - as an ally and friend. This attitude of the American people will go down in history as a great and exemplary act. For this I have already expressed my thanks to the United States on many occasions. I shall continue to do so; we shall never forget what America has done for us.

And now one last word. We are living in a restless age full of tension. The atheistic forces of Communism, while pretending to create a paradise on earth, are set on robbing people of their dignity and freedom and degrading them into will-less elements of a termite-state.

The free world resists this attempt. The dispute will continue for a long time to come, and will be endured by the free peoples only if they are wise, determined and, above all, united. In this regard the United States has a special role to play. It is the strongest of the Western powers. It is the leading power, but according to the concept of freedom, leading does not mean commanding; leading is more difficult, but also more successful. Leading means to understand the worries of the Allies, to listen to their proposals, to make suggestions of one's own, to arouse the community to action, to ensure a fair distribution of burdens, to exhort to unity, to set an example for the others to follow.

In this respect, the Soviet Union, the leading power of the East, is apparently faced with easier problems. The concept there is to lead by command. But we are confident that the American Government and people will master the more difficult task that confronts them.

On July 4 of this year, in Philadelphia, President Kennedy spoke of the principles of a genuine partnership between the United States and Europe. In this great speech he outlined the picture of an Atlantic partnership in which the members stand in a relationship of mutual interdependence, bearing jointly the responsibility for freedom and peace in the world, as well as the same rights and duties. I am pleased to say that I fully agree with this aim as it was proclaimed by President Kennedy, the leader of the free world. We are prepared to take this step. We shall do everything in our power to make the partnership healthy and strong, not only for the benefit of the peoples directly concerned but also for the prosperity of the whole human race.

Quelle: Foreign Affairs. Jg. 41. 1962, Nr.1 (Oktober), S. 59-65.