1. August 1951

Neo-Nationalism in Germany?

By Dr. Konrad Adenauer, Federal Chancellor


The Socialist Reichspartei frequently attracts considerable attention abroad, because it is believed that in this Party a revival of National Socialism is to be recognised. A number of events, reactions and opinions, assembled from very different parts of Germany and strata of the German population, and in particular the appearance of this new party, which is chiefly limited to Lower Saxony, have come under collective consideration abroad, and have gone to form the erroneous opinion that a new Nationalism is growing up in Germany. Comparisons are drawn with the time following Word War I, and with the development of radical tendencies under the Weimar Republic, and the words "vestigia terrent" in warning tones are to be read here and there.

We take these remarks by no means lightly, all the more so since a large number of responsible politicians in Germany today have already undergone the bitter experience of the evolution of the Weimar Republic into the Hitler State. We have developed a peculiarly sensitive ear to any stirrings in Germany and among the German people, which might develop into a nationalist danger; for the aim of German policy since the breakdown has been and still is above all to prevent Germans from inclining to chauvinistic tendencies.

The overwhelming majority of the German people hat joined in all European obligations with complete conviction. The desire for the full integration of Germany in a European Community is in Germany firm and strong. But Germany is an occupied country. Germany has now been occupied for more than six years. This, combined with the social difficulties brought about by the refugee distress and the crowding together of human beings within a very small space, gave opportunities for comparisons with former times, without its being clearly understood at the same time that all the disasters were the result of the National Socialist movement. The groups - such for example as the SRP in Lower Saxony - which today form a rallying point for such opinions, are small. Even the exacting demands such as "re-education", the policy of dismantling and later lawsuits which took place during post-war years in Germany, have, in spite of psychological mistakes by the other side, not led to nationalism.

We do not by any means underrate the possibility of danger. We have speedily had resource to measures to keep any spread of Nationalism under control. Against the possibility of such developments the Federal Government rigorously applies the same measures as against attempts from Communist quarters to undermine the Federal Republic.

In the hard years of reconstruction out of chaos and ruins in Germany we have seen a growth of the consciousness that Germany and the other peoples and states belong together, and a realization of the fact that this belonging together necessitates sacrifices and concessions also on a national plane. German policy aims at creating a new national sense among the Germans, a national sense which is conscious of the value of its own people and at the same time recognizes its obligations to Europe and the Western world.

This national sense is in process of growth. It expresses itself in the increasing readiness shown by Germany to share in international contacts. Even in the question as to what part Germany is to play in a general European and Western scheme of security, a hopeful and democratic feeling of belonging together is shown. It is obvious that this is the touchstone as to whether Germany is facing towards a new form of nationalism or towards embodying its national sense in a greater European and Western Comity of Nations. The Federal Republic will certainly, therefore, not go again the way taken in 1933, but tread the path towards a European and Western ever-lasting partnership.


Quelle: Deutsche Korrespondenz (English Edition) vom 1. August 1951.