By Dr. Konrad Adenauer, German Federal Chancellor
The insecure position of students and large groups of college graduates is one of Germany's gravest problems, one which moves me deeply whenever I think of the future of German intellectual life, science and research. Having succeeded in freeing from want industrial labour which was the economically weakest part of our people only a short time ago, we would make a fatal mistake if we now allowed an academic proletariat to develop.
It is difficult fully to appreciate the achievements of the German student body after the collapse of 1945. Those boys and girls returning home from the war could devote themselves to their studies only under the greatest difficulties. Both professors and students deserve full recognition for the industry and energy with which they tackled their work during those first postwar years of distress. Even today most German students lack material security, and many of them must fend for themselves without the backing and protection of a family.
In the zone of Germany that is outside the Federal Republic, the struggle for existence has been particularly relentless and has involved many sacrifices for students. After eight years of sovietisation the Central German universities have a roll of more than 400 professors and students arrested and detained without due process of law. The regimentation of research and teaching, the prescribing of pre-ordained research results by the State, and the strong influence of non-academic political organizations have so changed the character of the Central German universities that by Western standards they are today universities in name only. Many students and professors have fled from this new dark age to West Berlin or the German Federal Republic. They hat to choose between totalitar[ian]ism and freedom, and they chose freedom even though this option involved sacrifices and often the risk of their lives.
Taking into account the particular German situation we shall have to deal carefully and thoroughly with the position within our State of the members of the intellectual professions. The danger of the intellectual professions' being crushed between solid blocks of mass organizations which are powerful through their compactness is too great to be overlocked by the Government. We in the Federal Republic are making efforts to solve the vital problem of how to secure the necessary living space and an appropriate influence on public affairs for the intellectual professions. I am convinced that the German people will suffer serious intellectual and material damage unless a higher value than at present is places on intellectual work.
I believe that one of the causes of the situation I have alluded to is collectivization, that scourge of our time. East of the Curtain that separates freedom from serfdom, the slogan of collective rule is shouted with particular emphasis. Collective rule means collective thinking and thus suppression of any individualist mentality; it means depriving of all influence the person with individual ideas, that is, the very person who at all times has blazed new trails for human progress.
College men and women above all are called upon to oppose collectivization which also threatens us in the free world. It is up to them to help and save us from becoming a collective mass controlled by catchwords and loudspeakers. More than ever is it necessary for students not to confine their studies to an accumulation of technical knowledge. Only those, for instance, who know the historical development of Germany and of the world at least in outline can have a balanced judgement on, and a reasonable attitude to, present-day events.
All those who are concerned about the preservation of freedom must realize that the future of the German young generation can only be secured by the creation of an integrated Europe. The developments brought about by the war and the after-war, the technical advance made, and the shifts in power throughout the world which cannot even be properly assessed yet, imperatively demand the unification of Europe, the establishment of a large European economic and political commonwealth.
The creation of such a Europe is a most worthy aim. The road leading to it is long, difficult and beset with obstacles. But the European nations must rid themselves of the memories of the past that hold them back; they must shed, not indeed their national sentiments, but their nationalism. Only then will the Germans and the other European peoples be vouchsafed a secure and prosperous future.
Quelle: Deutsche Korrespondenz (englische Edition). Jg. 4. 1951, Nr. 31 vom 26. Juli 1954.