§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
The Foreign Secretary in his comments to the House on the German situation last Friday referred to its delicacy. I do not suppose that anybody in the House would dispute that fact, and we shall all, no doubt, wish in this Debate to speak with a full consciousness of our responsibility. At the same time, there are occasions when the House of Commons should make its point of view felt. This seems to me to be such an occasion. It is not an issue upon which this House can keep silent. My own words will be few. I want to refer first, briefly, to the successive actions of the Soviet Government which have brought conditions in Berlin to their present pass, and secondly, to make plain what in our judgment should be the determined policy of His Majesty's Government in these conditions.
The Soviet Government's intentions, as it seems to me, were first made plain in respect of Germany by their deliberate and continuous violation of the Potsdam principle of keeping Germany as an economic whole. That was the agreed basis for work between us as Allies—the basis which had been accepted by the Soviet Government, and the only one which could give practical expression to co-operation between the Allies if a 2214 desire for such co-operation really existed. That was the first occasion. The next was when the Soviet Government rejected the Four-Power Pact which proposed, as the Committee will remember, a joint guarantee against German rearmament. This proposal was put forward by the United States with the general agreement of His Majesty's Government and of the French Government.
Let us consider for a moment what an immensely significant gesture it was for the United States to make an offer of that kind, with all the history of that country's previous attitude towards such engagements. Soviet propaganda frequently shows—we keep reading statements to this effect—that the Western Powers are trying to build up Germany against them. If they really feel that, if they are really sincere in that belief, how can they reconcile it with their rejection of the Four-Power Pact against German re-armament, which pact, I must remind the Committee, copied word for word the Allied Military Agreement which was reached in Berlin—and which I remember very well because I was still Foreign Secretary at the time—in early July, 1945, between the military commanders, including the Russian military commander, Marshal Zhukov.
Yet, a year later, when this agreement was offered with the guarantee of the United States, Mr. Molotov tried to add all sorts of political and economic conditions to the military guarantee. In fact, he tried to turn a pact, which was a guarantee against a fear of the revival of German military power, into a peace treaty giving effect exclusively to Soviet desires. When that draft was brought forward twice later, each time it was rejected. I am bound to say, in view of all that—although I say it with reluctance—that I do not see how the Committee can escape the fact that ever since the Moscow Conference of 1947 and its failure, every attempt that has been made to enable Germany to play some part, as she must play some part, in the revival of European economy, has been frustrated by the attitude of the Soviet Government. I cannot see how we can avoid that conclusion from the premises which I have given to the Committee.
§ Mr. Eden
I cannot see how we can avoid it. It is not, I ask the Committee and others to believe, that we in this country have forgotten the recurrent acts of German aggression. Of course we have not. Of course the utmost caution will have to be used in the supervision of the development of German industrial power. No one proposes to give Germany opportunities for rebuilding her military armaments. We understand and sympathise with our French friends in their feelings on that subject. At the same time—and this we declared even while we were waging war, and at the time no exception was taken by our Allies—we made it plain that it was essential that Germany should be put in a position economically to play her part in the recovery of Europe. Otherwise, not only does Germany suffer but we all suffer, and disintegration sets in which can benefit no one except those who want to see Europe in anarchy and ruin.
This Soviet refusal to co-operate has resulted in many months going by without any constructive step being taken to put into effect an agreed policy towards Germany. Now, at length—and as I think rightly—the position has been reached when the economic reconstruction of the Western zone, including currency reform, can wait no longer, and we must go ahead without the Soviet Union. Equally, the period of stagnation in the political sphere cannot be allowed to continue.
What is the present position? The Soviet Government have chosen to regard this decision as a challenge and have retaliated with a blockade of Berlin, which is an act openly directed against their Allies. It is also a callous threat of untold suffering and hardship to 2,000,000 of the civilian population in Berlin. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, speaking on Saturday, we are in complete agreement with the Foreign Secretary's statement of 4th May:We are in Berlin as of right. It is our intention to stay there."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1948; Vol. 450, c. 1122.]I do not ask the right hon. Gentleman today to tell us by what means the Government propose to give effect to the policy contained in that statement. I have no doubt that this has been thought out. The 2½ million citizens of our sectors must be taken care of.
2216 I have read many times, and I have heard it said, that it would be impossible to supply by air our sectors in Berlin, with their large civilian population. Well, that may be so, but I should not personally be completely dogmatic about it: remarkable achievements stand to the record of the R.A.F. and the American Air Forces in the war. There is the brilliant record of the American Air Forces in flying supplies to China over the hump, which my right hon. Friend remembers so well, and which certainly made history in efforts of that kind. There was the 14th Army in Burma which advanced on the wings of the Royal Air Force, and was supplied entirely by the Royal Air Force. Since the war there has been the Allied effort in air trooping, which resulted in so many tens of thousands of men being brought home by air for demobilisation.
I only say that it would be rash to assume that air effort cannot meet, to a very considerable extent, the need for supplies in Berlin. Anyhow, if this could be done, whatever effort the Royal Air Force and the joint air forces make, they will be making that effort not in war but in the cause of peace; they will be working to supply a civilian population exposed to cruel suffering; and this time they will be dropping on Berlin not bombs but food.
But however that may be, and whatever the mechanical means by which the Government determine to give effect to their policy, it must be made plain to the Soviet Government that sincere as we are, and sincere as we always have been, in desiring their friendship, we are not prepared to be intimidated by brute force or by blackmail. If there remains in the Soviet mind any possible doubt on this subject, as to our attitude and the attitude of our Allies, then I urge the Foreign Secretary, in the clearest and firmest terms, together with our Allies to make a joint communication to the Soviet authorities, not in Berlin where the power is limited, but in Moscow where the ultimate decision lies. I say to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Committee that in the light of what he told us on 4th May—which I have just quoted—it is unthinkable that we should now draw back. Were we to do that the effect on our authority and that of the Western Allies in Europe would be catastrophic.
2217 Germany is today a prostrate and defeated nation; millions of Germans are now looking to the Western States to see whether, in truth, we mean what we say, and we have an obligation to them. We have a greater obligation to the 2½ million in our Allied zones in Berlin, who appear to be showing, in the face of every form of intimidation, a steadiness which we must respect and applaud. But most of all, I suggest, we have an obligation to the smaller but still very important number of Germans who have definitely come forward to try to play their part in building up a free life in Western Germany—a free life in the sense in which we in these islands know it. We cannot, we must not, let these people down. It is essential that our case on this issue should be firmly and clearly presented to the German people, and from what I have been able to learn I am not yet convinced that this is being very effectively done.
Before closing I ask the Committee to picture for a moment what would happen if decisions were taken to withdraw from Berlin the forces of the Western Allies. Within 24 hours, perhaps less, thousands of Germans who had been co-operating loyally with the British American and French military authorities would be torn from their homes and would be placed under arrest. We know then what their fate would be. Newspapers which had been appearing as the organs of information of the Western Powers would disappear overnight. For the rest of the population the whole process of Soviet requisitioning and Soviet confiscation would begin.
But over and above all these things, what would be the effect on our authority and on our position in the remaining free nations of Western Europe and the world? The shock to Austria would be completely devastating; it would seem to amount to an open invitation to the Soviet Forces to repeat in Vienna what had succeeded in Berlin. And what would be the effect throughout the Mediterranean and in the Middle Eastern lands? Particularly, it would be highly discouraging to those forces among the Eastern European satellite States—amongst which we must now perhaps include Marshal Tito—who had sought to show their dislike for Kremlin control.
Finally, if such an event happened how could we, how could this country, really 2218 hope to build up a Western Union and to bring Italy within its orbit? Powerful Communist elements in France and Italy would receive a sweeping accession of strength. How could we allay the fears, for instance, of the Scandinavian countries if we ourselves had run away from Berlin?
There is another motive which must be present in our minds, and I should hope in the minds of everybody in this Committee, of whatever party, when we decide—as I think we must decide—that this is above all an occasion upon which we must stand firm. That consideration, which I want to put to the Committee, is one which ought to be in the minds of the Soviet leaders, too. It is essential that we should stand firm in the interest of ultimate good relations between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies. In spite of its numerous provocative acts, I cannot believe that the Kremlin today intends war. But any vacillation on our part now would only encourage the rulers of the Soviet Union to believe that further pressure will result in further yielding, until at last a stand has to be taken which makes war inevitable.
There is one other warning I would utter. If we are determined to see this business through, as surely we must be, then conciliatory language ought not to deflect us. Only deeds should be taken into account. The gentler words of Marshal Sokolovsky, reported in the Press this morning, are no comfort to me without action to give effect to the words. It sometimes happens in diplomacy that there are alternative approaches to a problem, any one of which may lead to its satisfactory solution; but there are other occasions when only one possible course of action presents itself which can preserve peace. Sir, I believe that we have reached such a point today. If ever there was a time to stand firm, it is now; if ever there was a cause in which to stand firm, it is this.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern)
I agree with the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), that this is an occasion upon which the House of Commons should make its view felt. I do not propose to detain the Committee for very many minutes, but I believe that the Liberal voice should be 2219 heard in this Debate on this occasion. I agree that the situation in Berlin raises issues as grave as any of those which confronted us between the years 1933 and 1939. We have become used to the Russians being difficult; we have become almost too used to the threats; but the threat to starve 2½ million Germans in Berlin as a means of evicting the British, Americans and French is one which must be resisted at all costs. I agree again with what the right hon. Gentleman said. We must stand firm now more than ever. At no stage must we give the impression that we intend to go in for weakness or appeasement of the Munich pattern, and the Foreign Secretary will, I am sure, have the full support of this House in any strong stand he proposes to take.
I do not under-estimate the difficulties confronting our military commanders in Berlin, as the Russians control the areas which contain the source of essential supplies, but nevertheless I think we must state categorically our intention to remain in Berlin, and, from my experience in war, I believe that it is quite possible to fulfil that policy. I also agree that we should now undertake a combined and united approach by America, France and Britain to Moscow, not to Berlin, because we want to raise this matter to a far higher level, and that we should demand the immediate restoration of the essential services in Berlin as a prelude to any further discussions. If the Russians accede to that, and if as a result the local and technical difficulties can be solved successfully in Berlin, then I think, and then only, should we be prepared to discuss the question of Germany as a whole. I believe that the restoration of the essential services is again the prerequisite of going into a wider field of discussion.
I do not believe that the situation in Berlin can be divorced from the general international outlook. In the last three years we have seen enough to make us realise that peace, unfortunately, is by no means assured, and we have also witnessed the fact that acts of force which might constitute aggression have come from one quarter only. We must, in my view, learn the lessons. We became very familiar between 1933 and 1939 with the pattern of the cold totalitarian war, and we learned some very hard lessons. One 2220 was that appeasement never pays. The other was that peace can only be preserved if nations which are genuinely seeking peace get together very closely indeed in order to confront potential aggression with overwhelming armed force.
This is by no means a threat, but we must look to the defence of the democratic and peace-loving nations. I believe we must make quite certain that there is the maximum concerted force available to face potential aggression. That, after all, is the principle upon which the United Nations organisation itself is based. It is the principle applied by Russia in South-Eastern Europe today when she establishes the Russian bloc. Although I believe wholeheartedly in Western Europe, I believe that even that may prove too narrow a concept for the future. I believe that the time has now arrived when we should say, quite openly, that we wish to work in the closest possible association with the nations in the Western Union, with the British Empire and Commonwealth and with the United States.
I do not believe that we ought to make any apologies about it. The only criticism that will come will be from the Communists and their fellow-travellers, for they realise that Communism seeks to trade upon the disunity of democratic and peace-loving nations. If we make it clear that we are going to act in concert together, making no secret of the fact that we want intimate staff talks and that we want to spread the load of armament upon the basis of equality of sacrifice, I believe that, along those lines, we shall secure the peace of the world.
I should like to work in harmony with Soviet Russia, and I look forward to the day when we shall do so, but if we give any signs of giving in, then undoubtedly the chances of peace will not be as bright as they should be. I believe that we now have to stand firm in Berlin. Those nations which are prepared to recognise the Charter of Human Rights should keep together in order to preserve the peace of the world. We stand by the Atlantic Charter. We seek no territorial aggrandisement whatever. All we say is that we have a common interest in preserving the peace and standing firm together in the future.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
There have been so many Debates on the German problem as a whole in this House that I do not think it is necessary today to take up the time of the Committee going over the matter in very great detail. I feel, however, that it might be wise just to deal briefly with a little of the background, because it has a bearing on the situation that has now developed in Berlin. When this Debate was arranged I understood that it was the wish to deal with the communiqué which was issued on the Western development—that is the London Agreement—and added to that, the tense situation that has developed in Berlin.
I must begin by dealing with the background first. As the previous speakers have said, this situation in Germany really flows from the failure of the occupying Powers to find a common policy for Germany. The Soviet Government proclaim that the fault lies with the Western Powers who, they allege, have repudiated the Agreement made at Potsdam. I reply that His Majesty's Government have made every effort to give effect to the Potsdam Agreement. The facts, if examined by any impartial person, will show that this allegation is the reverse of the truth, and that it is the Soviet Government who have consistently failed to operate the Potsdam Agreement and have, up to the moment, destroyed the possible unity of Germany.
May I first deal with reparations? Although the Potsdam Agreement provided for the payment of reparations by Germany, it laid down a fundamental principle for which both parties in the House are responsible. It was discussed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) during the first period of the Potsdam Conference, and it was settled in the final stages. It lays down that the proceeds of exports from current production shall be available in the first place for payment of essential imports. The whole basis of our dealing with reparations in Germany has been this; that you take the total production, not of our zone but of the whole of Germany, and first buy your essential imports, pay for them with your exports, and then deal with reparations out of surplus.
2222 That is the basis that everyone agreed to at Potsdam. I say that that has never been operated by the Soviet Government for one solitary moment. We have observed it or endeavoured to observe it. On the other hand, the Soviet Government have taken reparations from current production from their own zone. They have consistently refused to give any information about these unauthorised removals, which together with the removal of capital equipment and equally unauthorised acquisitions by Soviet cartels of German enterprises which are left in Germany, are believed to amount in value to well over 7 billion dollars. It is estimated that in the three years the Soviet have taken from the Eastern zone seven billion dollars. At the same time, the taxpayer in this country had to find money to keep Germany from starvation and the same applied in America. The consequence of this was that an enormous burden was thrown on the Western Powers.
Since the end of the war the United Kingdom contribution to the re-establishment of the German economy has been over £200 million. A high proportion of that had to be in dollars to buy dollar food and raw materials for Germany. I have not the figures of the United States contribution, but it is very substantial. I cannot believe that any Member of this Committee, given those figures and the reasons, would face his constituents and say that in every week we have been guilty of taking so much out of the pay-packets of the people of this country to keep the Germans because the Potsdam Agreement has not been honoured. I am entitled to ask if we are criticised, that the constituents should be told the facts, because that is exactly what has happened.
Secondly, the Potsdam Agreement—and this is very important from the point of view of security—provided for the demilitarisation, the denazification and the democratisation of Germany. In the Western zones, which are open to inspection, these aims have been reached. I repeat that our zones are open to inspection. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) inspects our zone regularly, and puts down lots of Questions about it. If I may I should like to thank him for it, because the Minister does not know everything and my hon. Friend keeps him 2223 up to scratch in dealing with these things. I have no complaint. But in the Soviet zone a veil is drawn. However, we know from the Soviet-controlled Press that a new National Democratic Party is being formed, which is designed to attract ex-Nazis and has no democratic charactistic except its name. The Western Allies have been gravely concerned from the point of view of security to see well-known ex-Nazis being recruited again in this semi-Nationalist Party, which is called "The Democratic Party."
Thirdly, the Potsdam Agreement provided for the formation of free democratic political parties and trade unions, freedom of speech and of the Press, freedom from discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, or political opinion, and justice and equal rights for all citizens. I wish to emphasise that these principles have been observed by the Western Powers. On the other hand, it is bound to be admitted that they have been flouted in the Soviet zone, where the population have been subjected to mass deportation, arbitrary arrest, liquidation of independent political parties, and the suppression of free speech. I think I can understand the determination of the Berlin population. There is a good social democratic background still alive in Berlin in spite of the Kaiser and Hitler. Berlin should not be confused with Prussia. The work of Engels and many of the early Socialists still lives, and it is reflected in the views of the Germans today while this issue is being fought out.
The Potsdam Agreement provided for the economic unity of Germany. This principle has constantly been rejected by the Soviet Union at the Conferences in Paris, Moscow and London. We must not take what is said over the radio and by the Tass Agency as representing the attitude of the Soviet Government when a problem is being considered clause by clause in a Conference. It is answers, clause by clause which show the attitude of a Government and what they are prepared to embody in a final protocol.
Again, there is a great claim for a share in the administration of the Ruhr. I want to make one point very clear. Constant reiteration about Four-Power control in the Ruhr rather leads people to assume that there was an agreement about it at Potsdam. There was nothing of the kind. 2224 When Four-Power control of the Ruhr was put forward at the last moment by Mr. Molotov at the Foreign Minister's Conference I declined to accept it on behalf of the British Government. When it was brought on later in the evening by Generalissimo Stalin, the Prime Minister declined to accept it. Why? We said that France was not there and one of the vital Powers affected by the Ruhr was France. Therefore, we could not determine the question of the Ruhr and security until the Potsdam Agreement was forwarded to France and we knew whether they agreed or not. The whole question of the Saar, the Ruhr and the rest of it had to be discussed in conjunction with France.
There was another condition which later became a basis of the consideration of the problem: should we isolate the Ruhr under Four-Power control and leave all the industries of the rest of Germany under single control? We declined to accept such a position, since the transfer to the Polish administration of great works between the Eastern and the Western Neisse, pending a peace conference, meant that they were virtually under the control of Russia. Therefore, we would have excluded one great industrial area of Germany and merely made Four-Power control in another. We could not accept the logic of that position.
The Council of Foreign Ministers in London last year demonstrated to the full that, while the Soviet Government kept up lip service to this German unity, they were still determined to destroy it by continuing to insist on policies and programmes which made unity impossible. In those circumstances, following that Conference I reported to the House and said that we could not wait for ever. At that time there was criticism on both sides of the House that I had shown too much patience and was delaying too long. I am prepared to wait for peace rather than take precipitate action to destroy it, and I do not apologise for having waited until the November Conference.
But we could not leave this great Western area, for which the United States, France and ourselves were responsible, as a slum—a great human slum—because all the resources capable of contributing to the standard of life not only of Germany but of Europe were lying there unrehabilitated and unrestored. We had to do 2225 something. We called the London Conference. The aims of that Conference were (a) to secure against a revival of German aggression; (b) the incorporation of Germany in the European Recovery Programme; and (c) the economic rehabilitation of Germany. Those were the three fundamental principles. The result of that Conference is well known to the Committee. I have just a few observations that I think it is well to make upon it, to clarify the position.
We have always been the first to recognise—and I have publicly said so on behalf of the Government on many occasions—that France, and indeed the Benelux Powers, are fully entitled to security against German resurgence. France has been twice invaded in one generation and we cannot be surprised if she insists that every possible precaution should be taken against a repetition of that terrible ordeal. In the London recommendations every effort has been made to provide for French security and, if I may say so, Western security as well as our own. Security for the lot of us.
In trying to do that we worked with the idea of producing a federal Germany. We also agreed to deal with the French request for an international control of the Ruhr. We dealt afresh with the de-militarisation of Germany, which has been laid down. We and the Americans have undertaken far-reaching military commitments in regard to the occupation and supervision of Germany. I think the French people can be assured that, as M. Bidault said quite well when it was debated in Parliament, the arrangements made under the London Agreement give France much greater security than those which were made in 1919, when the United States withdrew and the subsequent events took place.
In addition, we have concluded the Treaty of Dunkirk, and the Five-Power Treaty of Brussels. This, in turn, has received from the President of the United States a degree of support which adds to its military value. It is customary to say that everything we do to get security and peace for years to come is directed against the Soviet. It is not true. What we want to do is to establish confidence in the West again—
§ Mr. Bevin
—and we are entitled to have it. It is very tiring to have to listen to a parrot all the time. We stand by France, who will not be left alone. We have no desire to create a Germany which can ever be aggressive, but Germany cannot be allowed to remain a slum in the centre of Europe. On the contrary, our policy is that she must contribute to her own recovery and keep herself, and give her share to European recovery. That is the best way to get Germany to make reparations for the devastation that she caused in the war. In accordance, therefore, with the London recommendations, Germany has been incorporated into the European Recovery Programme, and is represented on the Paris Conference. She will receive her share of aid under this programme, but in turn she must produce and be enabled to pay her share into the common pool. She cannot do it unless we proceed apace with economic rehabilitation. We must give her the tools to work with if she is to make a contribution.
On the principle of political development, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that we must give the Germans responsibility and the necessary authority. At present, political parties are reluctant to accept responsibility without authority. They are apt to disclaim responsibility and to ascribe all their failures and disappointments to the occupying Powers. The six Powers came to the conclusion that if this situation was to be remedied and conditions created in which Germany could profit from the European Recovery Programme and reorganise her economy, it was necessary for a responsible German Government to be established as soon as possible. We would have preferred a united one, but we must go ahead where we can.
I have already dealt with our attitude to the Ruhr. The main principle is that there is to be no political separation. That was a very great difficulty in the early days of the discussion of this problem. There is also to be no international ownership or non-German management. The Germans have been given the greatest possible freedom consistent with security for Western Europe. Here let me say that we think it better to proceed with these great Ruhr industries in this way. Under E.R.P. and with the integration and planned development of Western Europe, we can fit it in better in this way than 2227 by any other means. We are convinced that international control is essential for security reasons and in order to see that the output is so allocated that it makes its common contribution to European rehabilitation as a whole.
Then we felt it desirable, and I think the Committee will agree that it was a wise step, to associate the Benelux countries with us. We have been chastised for not bringing in Poland and other countries, but what are we to do? We brought them in under the Marshall scheme. They wanted to come; they were ordered to stay away, and they had to stay away. They did not want to. Suppose we had sent for them to come into this. Statesmen in those countries are put in great jeopardy when such communications are sent to them. We thought that in all probability we might create an embarrassing situation for them. We recognise the bravery of the Polish people in the war. We recognise their struggle and what they suffered, and the price they paid. We have no desire to exclude them from the consideration of this problem, and it is not we who have excluded them; but we have to proceed having regard to the facts. Therefore, we took into account not only our own point of view but that of our partners—and indeed in the West we are not merely Allies now, we are partners. We have entered into partnership in dealing with this great problem. There has had to be give and take on all sides.
The House will have seen the Warsaw statement of Soviet policy issued after the meeting at Warsaw of Russian and satellite representatives. It shows that the Soviet Government, while invoking the need of Four-Power Agreement, continues to couple abuse of the policy of the Western Powers with insistence on Soviet predominance in Germany. We are willing to have Four-Power control, but we are not willing to have a façade of Four-Power control which is virtually One-Power control, and One-Power direction. That is the real, fundamental difficulty with which we are faced. The programme there laid down the establishment of a so-called democratic, that is to say Communist-controlled, central German Government. Well, I am sorry, but however much this word "democratic" may be abused His 2228 Majesty's Government cannot accept the interpretation of democracy as it has been applied to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and other countries. Therefore, we must get back to a more rational consideration. But we cannot do this when Soviet Russia issues the sort of programme they recently did at Warsaw. If it came to a conference, they would say all the way through "This is the basis which the Soviet Government put forward." Whatever proposals we put up for consideration, we should never make any progress at all. Unless they are willing to take into account all our points of view, I am afraid that progress is almost impossible.
That brings me to the position in Berlin. This is the most important question at this moment. I will explain to the Committee what the agreements and considerations are which have been the basis of our policy. First, it must be remembered that our troops reached Wismar on the Baltic and that the American troops overran large parts of Thuringia in the defeat of Germany In places we were a very long way from the boundaries of our zones as drawn in 1944 by the European Advisory Commission, of which the Russians were, of course, members, At the same time as the zones were agreed upon, it was agreed that Berlin should be occupied and administered on a Four-Power basis. That is the fundamental position.
Obviously then, the question arose of providing communications in order that our troops and the people of Berlin might have food and that industry might be developed. The first step which was taken was that arrangements were made between Field-Marshal Montgomery, General Eisenhower and Marshal Zhukov. They were carried out for a time until the Control Council met in August, 1945.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will mention the fact, which is inherent in his argument, that the United States and, to a lesser extent, the British retired to a depth in many places of 150 miles on a front of more than 400 miles.
§ Mr. Bevin
Yes, that is why I mentioned where they reached. If one looks at the map one sees that they withdrew to the zone boundaries fixed in 1944 by 2229 the European Advisory Commission before the battle was finished. As the right hon. Gentleman says, the Americans and ourselves gave up 150 miles depth on a 400 miles front. A part of all that business was bound up with the occupation of Berlin on a Four-Power basis.
The first arrangements were made by the military officers at the end of the war, but they had to be regularised and defined. The Control Commission had been set up, and on 10th September, 1945, the Control Council agreed a paper providing for the passage of 16 railway trains a day from the Western zones to Berlin. That is recorded on the minutes of the Control Council and accepted by the Governments. By an arrangement agreed on 3rd October, 1946, this number was increased to 31—seven passenger trains and 24 freight trains. On 30th November, 1945, the Control Council agreed a paper on the establishment of air corridors from Berlin to the Western zones. In June, 1946, agreement was reached by the British and Soviet authorities on the principles to cover barge traffic between the two zones. These were definite arrangements made.
Over and above these arrangements referring specifically to transport, the principle of free access is clearly inherent in the agreements which have been signed laying down the proportion of coal, food and other supplies which each occupying Power should contribute to the needs of Berlin. How can the Western Powers supply their agreed share of Berlin's solid fuel requirements, which amounts to 63 per cent., if they are prevented from getting it there? There is a further important point. For three years we have enjoyed uninterrupted use of road, rail and water facilities. Until recently there had never been a suggestion that we were not fully entitled to all these means of access.
As I have said, these arrangements, written and unwritten, continued until quite recently when difficulties arose about quadripartite control over Germany as a whole due to the fact that the Potsdam Agreement was not working. As I have told the Committee many times, the Potsdam Agreement was reached on the assumption that there would be economic and political unity in Germany, but this was never operated by the Soviet Union. In view of the fact that they have never 2230 operated the basic principle of the Agreement, why should the trouble in Berlin be laid at our door We have gone on to the best of our ability carrying out our obligations notwithstanding the fact that the Potsdam Agreement has not been honoured. We have tried hard to get agreement but we have failed. As I have said, that failure has cost the taxpayers of this country £200 million. In consequence of all this, we have had to develop Three-Power action in the West.
Among the things alleged to be the cause of the present trouble is the question of currency reform. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) asserting that this had been too long delayed. This House pressed us, as I have indicated, over and over again It was patently obvious that we could not get production and could not develop the export trade and could not even give the Eastern zones what they required from us unless we could re-establish the wage system on a new currency basis. We had to get it and we could not be delayed any longer. In fact, we could not get a viable Western Germany at all unless this reform was carried out. We tried to get it on a quadripartite basis. The discussions went on for months and we were making a final effort when the Russians decided to walk out of the Control Council and all Four-Power negotiations on this vital matter ceased. I re-emphasise that right up to the last minute, we were trying to get agreement. When the Russians walked out of the Control Council, that made it unworkable.
What were His Majesty's Government to do? Just take it lying down and do nothing? We decided that we had to go on and that we could not leave Germany as it was. We have proceeded and the currency reform has been carried out in the Western zones. However, we took a great precaution over Berlin which is right in the middle of the Soviet zone. General Robertson informed the Russians that we had no intention of applying the new currency of the Western zones to the Berlin sectors and that we would still endeavour to settle that question on a Four-Power basis unless and until the Russians forced the issue. We were anxious not to complicate or embarrass the situation in 2231 Berlin. The Soviet authorities were notified in advance of our plans. Then we had this claim, and I would ask hon. Members in the Committee to take note of it because this is fundamental.
I think I have said sufficient to prove that although we are occupants of the Western zone, we are also occupants of our zone in Berlin—our sector. In his reply, however, Marshal Sokolovsky intimated that in his view Berlin formed a part of the Soviet zone. Well, I do not think anyone who had to deal with this problem at the end of the war will accept that claim. That meant that we were there on sufferance and not there as of right. We were not able to accept this view, and we proposed another Four-Power meeting.
Then the Soviet claimed that they must have the right to issue their own currency with their own exclusive control in Berlin. We did not reject the proposal that the Eastern currency could be used for the whole of Berlin under suitable conditions. We were unable to agree, however, that in an area in which Four-Power authority was sovereign, any other authority but the Four Powers should be given the right to issue its own currency on its own terms. To have given way on this would have been to admit that Berlin was not under Four-Power government, but under Soviet government, and that was an admission we could not make.
Immediately after that meeting, the Russians told our people that they were proceeding with a currency reform plan of their own in the Eastern zone, and that this plan covered Berlin as well. At that moment we had to take a great decision. We decided that since all possibilities of agreement had been exhausted, we must tell the Russians that we had no alternative but to issue a separate currency for the Western sectors of Berlin—the French, the United States and ourselves—and that has been done.
As the Committee is aware, the irritations in Berlin have gone on for a long time, and I think there has been an attempt to see how long our nerves would last. There is no sign of snapping yet. It began with the stopping of traffic by road, it went on to traffic by rail, to waterways and so on, and we have put 2232 up with it now for months. The claim of the Russians is that they are acting on technical grounds—that the railways needed repair, that something was wrong about the passes carried by barges, and that there were some difficulties about roads and the Elbe Bridge. We accepted that, we offered technical assistance and material to help repair the river bridge. We are also ready now to help to repair the railways and to keep communications going. We realise the difficulty of material, and all the rest of it, and we are really quite seriously ready to do our part. I make the offer publicly.
But one was bound to ask whether the real reason was currency, whether it was technical deficiency, or was it an attempt to make our position in Berlin impossible? Technically, as I have said, we can help the Russians over the difficulty very promptly, and certainly on the waterways and roads there need not be a moment's delay. The question of currency cannot be a good reason either now, because the old currency is now invalid in the Eastern zone and in Berlin, as well as in the Western zone, so the validity of that claim has gone as well.
If, on the other hand, the reason is political and the intention is to make trouble for us in Berlin, it seemed up to today—I do not know what will happen after Marshal Sokolovsky's letter today—that the Russians intended the ruthless starvation of 2½ million people in order to produce, I presume, chaos and revolt, to injure the health of people already underfed, to put pressure upon Allies with whom they fought in the war and who loyally carried out their bargains to them. His Majesty's Government cannot submit to that, and I am assured that our American and French Allies take a similar view. We cannot abandon those, stout-hearted Berlin democrats who are refusing to bow to Soviet pressure. The morale of the large Berlin population is excellent, and their determination to put up with any degree of privation rather than be surrendered to exclusive Russian domination must carry our fullest support.
The Committee will want to know what steps we have taken in dealing with these matters. We have been in close consultation with the United States and French Governments on each step, and in connection with the decisions made. The 2233 Dominion Governments have, of course, been kept fully informed, and we have also given full explanations and information to the Commonwealth High Commissioners in London. Thus, everyone is fully alive to all the issues involved. It was obvious that immediate consultative machinery should be established to keep the three Governments closely concerted and, as far as the political situation is concerned, the representatives of the United States, French and United Kingdom Governments are meeting frequently in London in accordance with the requirements of the situation, and reporting, of course, to their Governments.
We are fully conscious of the task that is before us and all the hindrances that may be put in our way, but His Majesty's Government have decided to place at the disposal of the combined effort every possible resource they have. The United States who, as is well known, can provide a greater air-lift than the other Western Allies, is putting at the disposal of this combined effort very large resources indeed. The purpose of this decision is to prevent the stoppage of traffic and freight, and so to render ineffective the imposition of restrictions interrupting the flow of foodstuffs, etc., to Berlin. All I can say at this moment is that the plans for this great air-lift have gone ahead with great speed, and the results which can be achieved seem likely to exceed our first expectations. I cannot, of course, give figures, but I would ask the Committee not to accept the rather doleful calculation made on the wireless the other day.
We recognise that as a result of these decisions a grave situation might arise. Should such a situation arise, we shall have to ask the House to face it. His Majesty's Government and our Western Allies can see no alternative between that and surrender, and none of us can accept surrender. We have been informed that the United States Government, like ourselves, regard their position in Berlin as based upon definite agreements, and their intention to remain in Berlin is unchanged. There have been suggestions that the Berlin question should be referred to the United Nations, but the Charter requires that several steps should be taken before this matter could be referred. It has to I be dealt with between Governments as the first step, and the point made by the 2234 right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington of dealing with it in Moscow at the appropriate moment is very much in our minds.
We must ensure, in this case, that every step taken is taken together. But the first step that has got to be taken—and I emphasise, the first step—is to make arrangements to feed the two and a half million people in our sectors in Berlin. As soon as the restrictions and interferences with Berlin's communications are withdrawn, then this immediate crisis will be at an end. The Berlin people can have their food, their coal and their other needs. It is all waiting in the Western zones and can be moved at once. As soon as the land and water communications, either singly or together, are opened, we shall proceed to move it with great speed and avoid any deterioration of the health and well-being of the population.
We have heard this morning that Marshal Sokolovsky has now indicated that some, at least, of the technical difficulties over communications can be overcome, but in addition—[Laughter]—Well, I agree with the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington; I am not deceived by language, neither, on the other hand, am I going to assume that everything they say is wrong. I have to keep a balance. But I shall be happier when the first train starts and when the barges start on the Elbe. In addition to these technical difficulties there has been a number of other issues. I am not making this a condition of starting the traffic but I must mention that he says there are a number of other issues affecting the general position of the Western Allies in Berlin, in regard to currency and these other matters and rights, which must be cleared up.
But I emphasise: let us get on with feeding the people and we can sit down at a Four-Power Conference and clear that up afterwards. The time is overdue, however, for allowing these things to continue with such irritating consequences that have gone on. If the recent difficulties over Berlin are completely removed we shall be ready to discuss the Berlin situation on a Four-Power basis. In the meantime, we must go on with all our plans to meet the situation. If that situation is eased so much the better, but we cannot take any risks.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting (Melton)
It is naturally difficult for an ordinary back bencher to comment in detail upon the Speech just delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. It is difficult for one to make much comment upon it for the obvious reason that he could not give to the Committee the facts and, in particular, the figures which would make comment easy. We must, therefore, at this stage—negotiations in this matter being obviously most delicate—accept his reassurance about the measures which have been taken, so he has told us, to deal with the Berlin situation. I would, of course, endorse and underline everything that has been said about the need for firmness in this position. My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) has referred to the effect which capitulation in Berlin would have upon the morale of other nations and peoples. He has given examples of those countries where it would have a devastating effect. I have just been to Scandinavia and would like to enlarge a little upon the brief reference made by my right hon. Friend to that part of the world.
Those countries are hovering and dithering on the brink of Western Union, and I would say to the Foreign Secretary that any capitulation in this matter would mean an immediate withdrawal by all of the Scandinavian countries from any participation in Western Union. It would mean the end of any hope of getting the four Scandinavian countries into our Western arrangements. They are waiting upon the outcome of this situation. They are watching to see where lies the balance of power in Europe and in the world. They fear, not unnaturally but, I believe, unreasonably, that Soviet reprisals would follow an approach or a leaning by them towards the Western Powers. It was difficult enough to persuade them before the Berlin situation arose that they stood in no such danger, but if we capitulate and the Russians win the battle of Berlin, then we have no hope whatever of persuading them to come in on our arrangements.
It would be a blinding flash of the obvious to say that the Kremlin is making a very big effort at the moment. Whether or not it is the big effort we will have to wait and see by their performance in the years to come. But if I may say so, 2236 I think the right hon Gentleman seemed to deal with the Berlin and German situation far too much in isolation from the general policy and activities of the Soviet Government and Communist Party led and inspired by Moscow. This is surely all part of a concerted Soviet and Communist plan. But whether it is the big effort or not, I believe the Soviet are particularly well placed to make a move this year by reason of the Presidential Elections in America, and above all, because they have been encouraged by the policy of drift which this Government have pursued up to date. I believe that that policy—or lack of policy—has been the greatest possible encouragement to the Soviet Union.
Let us take the question of currency reform which, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, is the main cause of—or the main excuse for—the present situation in Berlin. In the Debate on Foreign Affairs last January, the right hon. Gentleman proclaimed that currency reform was essential for Germany. When my hon. Friend the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) in the subsequent Debate asked when we could expect to know what was going to happen, and what the Government were going to do about currency reform, the Prime Minister, in winding up the Debate, said he could not possibly give any date for the institution of a currency reform because the question had not even yet been discussed. That sort of procrastination must have been the greatest possible encouragement to the Soviet Union, because what the right hon. Gentleman may have regarded as patience—what he may have meant as persistence—has been regarded by the Soviet as nothing more nor less than the utmost weakness on the part of this Government.
This blind pursuit of Four-Power co-operation when Four-Power co-operation was no longer a reality, the pretence that Germany was not divided when it was quite obviously divided; and the consequent refusal to set up a Western German government and make independent economic arrangements in Western Germany, have all encouraged and led up to the present situation in Berlin. And in all these things, it has been explicitly admitted by the Government, that they have failed to act, they have refused to act, because of the fear of countermeasures from the Soviet Government.
2237 References have already been made in this Debate and in the country to the similarity to the present situation to that of Munich. It is a very similar situation, not only because it is almost certain to have a turning point, but because the present difficulties are largely due to past errors. But there are two differences. Whereas perhaps at the time of Munich the Government bore the burden of the errors of its predecessors and were the victims of the disarmament policies of the 1920's and 1930's, the Government of today are the victims of their own procrastination and their own mistakes. The second difference consists in the extent to which the aggressor may be prepared to go to achieve his ends. I realise that the Soviet Union is well placed in this situation because she can hold out without firing a shot and, if the issue is to be forced to the ultimate end, obviously we would have to do the firing. But in the long run I believe this comes to the same thing, that is, to the question: Will the Soviet Government risk a war with the Western Allies?
I am not going to ask the Minister of State what his information on this subject is, because I know perfectly well he cannot give it. But surely the information at the disposal of the Government is that the Soviet Government are not prepared to go to that length, not because they are necessarily frightened or unprepared for war—indeed the information seems to be to the contrary—but because they believe the capitalist Western world will ultimately destroy itself and that there is little need for them to accelerate its destruction, and, secondly, because the Communist fifth column is a very much more useful weapon at the hands of Marshal Stalin than the other four columns of the Red Army. Hitler had no such powerful fifth column with which to do his will.
Therefore, the present situation seems to be essentially different from that of Munich in that Marshal Stalin is advised that he can get what he wants without war, whereas Hitler knew he could get it by war alone. While this may add enormously to the long-term problems of foreign policy, it must surely simplify the answer to the immediate question of Berlin. Nevertheless, we must be prepared for a similar situation to arise elsewhere. This is not an act in isolation, this is not 2238 an incident in isolation; this is part of a concerted plan and policy by the Soviet Government to dominate first Western Europe and then the world. So I ask, when we have got over the present difficulty, or even if it so happens before we get over the present difficulty, what plans have the Government for dealing with a similar situation in Vienna? Vienna is in exactly a similar position to Berlin. It is surrounded by a Soviet Zone of occupation and we have our sector of responsibility in Vienna the same as the Americans and the French. What plans have the Government to deal with a similar situation arising in Vienna in the near future? I hope we shall have an answer, because this is of vital importance.
The right hon. Gentleman has said, and it is agreed on all sides of the Committee, that we must stand firm in this situation. This is not an isolated act of obstruction, but part of a concerted policy, and if we lose this round we have lost an essential battle in the war for the survival of our Western way of life.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
Naturally, in the Debate so far the problem of Berlin has caught our imagination because it is the central and most dramatic instance of the conflict in which we are now engaged. I have known Berliners now for many years. It is well known that even in the Nazi period theirs was the city which stood up best under the Nazi tyranny and one of them said to me last time I was there, "If we are not defeated by the domestic tyrant, we are not likely to be licked by a foreign invader." The spirit of Berlin is one to which we must all pay tribute.
But Berlin is only a sector of the battle we are fighting. The campaign is for Germany as a whole, and it will only be fought and won if we have a clear strategy and fight the various battles with a clear idea of the relation of one to the other. Our major object at the moment is to establish a provisional German government, to see to it that throughout Germany the Frankfort Government is recognised as the only genuine democratic government, the only genuine free government and the only genuine responsible government in the whole of Germany, just as the "dollar mark," as the Germans have already happily named the new mark, is the only currency considered 2239 worth while. I am glad to hear that already in Berlin it is worth seven Eastern marks four or five days after it has been brought into the capital.
Berlin is important in the campaign precisely for the reason that we shall lose the campaign for the rest of Germany if we suffer any reverse in Berlin. But ultimately the battle of Germany is not going to be decided by dramatic battles in Berlin, but unsensationally in the factories, fields and homes of Western Germany. Its outcome will depend on whether or not we are building a free Western Germany sufficiently strong and prosperous to attract to it the länder of Eastern Germany. I do not apologise, therefore, for turning the attention of the Committee from the drama of Berlin to the very undramatic but extremely important social and economic crisis through which Western Germany is passing, because if we lose that campaign in Western Germany any victory in Berlin will be a Pyrrhic victory indeed.
I welcome the Six-Power Plan, and in welcoming it I would like to pay tribute to the French. The French have had to take a great many things which they do not like in the Six-Power Agreement and we, living on this side of the Channel, should appreciate the self-discipline of the French in accepting that agreement and cordially co-operating, although they have grievous heart searchings about the wisdom of certain clauses in the Agreement. It is a real expression of solidarity, because we do not get real solidarity until we can agree to accept things we do not wholly like.
In the London Plan, which is our strategy in Germany, there are three very clearly marked phases; the first economic, the second constitutional and the third the establishment next January of a full provisional government in Frankfort. That provisional government will have two buttresses to it. On one side there is the Occupation Statute. This is of first-rate importance. Instead of the Germans being given what powers the Allies choose to give them, they will have all the powers except those expressly reserved by occupying Powers. That is really a Bill of Rights and without it there can be no real government in Western Germany. Secondly, there is the European control of the Ruhr. I call that a buttress 2240 of the provisional German government because I believe the Germans have to learn that there has got to be co-operation between them and the West, and it is not possible to have that unless we satisfy the French, the Belgians and the Dutch that the production of the Ruhr is not possibly going to be used in the future for a revival of German militarism. It is, therefore, a positive strengthening of the provisional German government to have such international control with which to bind Germany more closely to Western Union. So far so good. The strategy is sound.
Now I come to the currency reform, which is the first part of the implementation of that strategy. There, I must say to the Foreign Secretary and to the Minister of State that I have serious questions in my mind as to the wisdom of the methods which we are now using. Currency reform was absolutely essential for two main reasons. In the first place, we had to pull out the millions and millions of pounds worth of hidden reserves which Germans were refusing to put into circulation because they had no confidence in the old currency. Unless we pulled these reserves into circulation there was no hope of reviving the German economy. Secondly, we had to destroy the black market which was making impossible the recovery of Western Germany.
No one, therefore, disputes the need for currency reform. What I am worried about is that it has been introduced late and without any accompanying social measures to prevent what happened in 1924. In that year Dr. Schacht created the situation in Germany out of which Fascism grew. He created it by destroying the middle class. If one has a currency reform of 10 to one without any gradation, without leaving to the small man even 3,000 marks changed at par, the savings of millions of people are at once wiped out—the savings generally of honest people. The black marketeer does not keep his savings in marks but in goods. It is the honest people, mainly the old people who believed in war savings, who have their savings wiped out in this currency reform.
If we are democrats and want a stable and social basis for German democracy, a currency reform as brutal as that which 2241 we have introduced requires complementary Social measures. This is particularly true in Western Germany, because in no part of the world is there a more distorted population structure than here. The young men have been killed resulting in far too heavy a proportion of old people being there. Added to this there are no fewer than three million refugees from the East, nearly all of them women and children. Therefore, there are more non-productive people in Western Germany who have to live either on public assistance or on their little capital than in any other part of the world. Millions of these non-productive people are completely destitute. They came from Eastern Germany each with his little bit of capital and a few things which they have sold one by one and thereby kept themselves alive.
I was told in Frankfort a few days ago by a British official that it is not our job to look after the social structure of Germany, that we have carried through the financial adjustment and that it is for the Germans themselves to introduce the social measures which will ease the injustice of the currency reform. I cannot agree. It was a grave mistake that we did not introduce currency reform, a capital levy and the necessary social measures together as parts of one comprehensive scheme, as I believe was originally planned some months ago in Frankfort.
It is a grave mistake for three reasons. First, there is not yet a German Government. There is no German government in Frankfort at all, just a number of harassed politicians of no political standing in a city which is not yet recognised as a capital. These poor men have no instrument with which to impose their will on the various länder—no powers of taxation. It is really disingenuous for us to say that we have done the currency reform—the easy part—and that we leave it to the Germans to tackle all the social repercussions, and that it is up to the Germans to carry through the necessary measures. These poor harassed men in Frankfort are, as each will tell one, incompetent to carry out those Measures.
In the second place, the Governments of the länder will be in no position to launch public works or use large amounts of public money for relief. Already under 2242 currency reform taxation has been reduced by one-third, thus reducing the amount of money available to the länder for public works and municipal relief. Thirdly, it will be essential to put most of the limited amount of credit available into private enterprise and industry, and there will not be sufficient available for social purposes. Within a few weeks or months there will not only be large-scale unemployment, which is bound to arise as one of the short-term results of currency reform—that was inevitable, we had to face it—but there will be large-scale destitution, for which no adequate provision has been made.
This does not mean that we are licked. Of course not. All I am pleading is that we should not say that it is up to the Germans and that it is their fault, if a crisis occurs. There must be collaboration between the Allies and the Germans, not merely in tackling currency reform but in tackling its social repercussions. Otherwise, in a few months we shall have created in Western Germany neo-Fascism on one side, Communism on the other, and German democracy will be stillborn when it is due to be brought to birth next January. This is the crisis which we have to face. I do not say that we cannot face it. Of course, we can. I think that we shall face it and win, but it is reasonable to point out the dangers ahead and to suggest urgent and constructive action to meet them before they become insuperable.
I turn to another subsidiary problem which is aggravating the difficulty of carrying through the currency reform. I refer to the problem of Berlin. Viewed from the angle of Frankfort, Berlin is a dramatic problem but secondary, and it is dangerous because it diverts attention from the tremendous problems of Western Germany. I have been to Frankfort several times recently and I have not met a single British or American official, or German for that matter, who did not make the same complaint—that so long as the Allies try to run Western Germany from Berlin, so long as our headquarters' staff are in Berlin, it is impossible to get the quick action required.
I am not speaking about the problem of staying in Berlin. Of course we are staying, but the question is whether in staying we retain in Berlin all our headquarters' staffs as at present. By doing 2243 so we are faced with two dangers. The first is that decisions about Western Germany are made in the tense atmosphere of Berlin. If I may draw an analogy, I once likened Berlin to Tobruk, but Auchinleck did not put his staff in Tobruk and try to direct Middle Eastern strategy from a bastion in enemy territory. What we need in Berlin are more soldiers and fewer officials, and many fewer women and children. Why have we thousands of officials in Berlin eating rations when they should be in Frankfort doing a job of work? And their wives and children should be there too.
For the sake of our efficiency in Berlin and in the zone, I beg the Minister to persuade the generals who are in command to give orders to their staff to go to Frankfort, which is now the capital of Western Germany. It is from there that their operations must be conducted. I believe the Berliners are intelligent enough to know that such a step would not be a panic measure or represent submission to the Russians. If in place of each official and each woman and child we put in one paratrooper that would be more impressive to the Russians than the numerous officials and young ladies. The atmosphere in Berlin is not the kind we require and the work in the zone is seriously hampered by that. The place for Generals Clay and Robertson, with their headquarters, is not it Berlin but Frankfort. For our main task is to make Frankfort more important than Berlin, to let the Germans see that Frankfort is the democratic capital of Germany, and to make them realise that we mean what we say when we say it will be the democratic capital of all Germany. Berlin has been built up by the Russians, but it is no longer the headquarters of democratic Germany. We are there because we have a Western enclave in Berlin, but the spiritual headquarters today are where we say, that is in Frankfort.
Broadly speaking, then, our strategy in Germany during the last six months has been completely right, but I believe that at certain points in our execution we have failed. We have failed through lack of forethought. I would like to have seen more of our headquarters staff sent to Frankfort six months ago, when we had our detailed plans for currency reform ready and knew that we would require men where they could, really do their 2244 work. That is a lack of foresight which has to be remedied at the last moment. The most important thing we have to do, however, is to change our attitude to the Germans. We have had people there with three years' experience as members of a Military Government; they are not to be governors any more. They are to be advisers to the German Provisional Government. This is not a question of "axing" staff, but of completely reorganising the function of our Control Commission in Germany, of ruthlessly removing large numbers and of keeping back a highly select and trained staff of people, not to rule the Germans but to advise them how to rule themselves. That is a spiritual revolution which some of our people out there will never achieve. If they cannot, they should be sent home. We should only send to Frankfort those who can conduct themselves, not as rulers, but as advisers of the Provisional Government.
When I was in Frankfort last week, I walked through the ruins of the old city and was delighted to see one thing—that the Pauluskirche had been rebuilt. One hundred years ago, in 1848, something happened which was the cause of two world wars. German democracy failed. It failed in that same church in Frankfort because German democrats were weak, and talked too long, and the power of Prussia and militarism prevailed. Some people think the rebuilding of the Pauluskirche a bad omen. I do not agree. I am glad that it has been rebuilt, for if we cannot succeed now, 100 years later, in recreating German democracy in that very building, we shall never have any hope for Western Europe at all. The best encouragement we can give to the Berliners, apart from our presence in their city, and our determination to stay there, is to create a social basis in Western Germany in which democracy can be saved and secured as part of the Western Union. If we do that the Berliners' morale will be stiffened. But if we put our minds only on Berlin and the dramatic tension there, the help we can give will be nothing and we may lose the battle for the soul of Germany which is being fought today.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
I am particularly fortunate in following 2245 the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) because I do so agree with most of the points he made, and particularly the importance of building up Frankfort as against Berlin. As far back as 1943 I wrote a book, one of the purposes of which was to urge that Berlin never again should be made the capital of Germany. At that time, the city was being destroyed very quickly, and why the Allied Powers should have placed their headquarters in Berlin, with all its associations with Prussian militarism, and not in a city of which the Germans could be proud, because of its literary or musical or other associations, I simply do not understand. It is extremely important that as soon as possible we should build up the prestige of the Western zone. But even though I personally opposed the idea of Berlin as a capital, I think it is vital that we should not dream of leaving the city now under any pressure.
I wish to take up but a very short time in speaking today, to put forward one argument for that, which I do not think has so far been made. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) referred to the effects which our withdrawal from Berlin would have on, for instance, Austria, and that is very important. The hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) referred to the effect that such a withdrawal would have in Scandinavia, which is also very important, but I suggest to the Committee that the most important result of all would be in Germany itself, on our efforts to build up a Western Europe which is strong enough to survive. It is absolutely out of the question that if we gave up Berlin we should find any Germans of any importance at all to serve in the Western German Administration, and all know how very difficult it is, even now, to find Germans who can worthily represent their country. If we left Berlin, they would be haunted the whole time by the conviction that within a very few months their part of Germany would also come under Communist control.
There is another factor, that if Berlin went, industrial unrest in the Ruhr would be immensely increased, so much increased, in fact, that we should not get the economic recovery of Western Germany that is essential. Not 2246 only that, but Western Germany would continue to be an intolerable strain on the resources of the United States and ourselves. I feel sure, therefore, that we must defend Berlin at all costs. We have only to reflect for a moment what the world would look like if we had, as I think we would have within a short time, Communism coming right up to the Rhine. There would be that co-operation between Russian manpower and German industrial efficiency which has been the cause of a great deal of disquiet among people for a very long time.
What would be the effect in France? The French, as the Foreign Secretary pointed out today, have a very difficult psychological problem to solve anyhow, and if we had the co-operation, right up to their borders, of Germany and Russia, I feel sure that all efforts to build up any sort of Western Europe organisation would collapse at once. We have said in this House so many times that the whole of the European Recovery Programme cannot possibly succeed unless Western Germany takes part in it. We must have in Western Europe the resources of Western Germany. It is mainly because I believe the Committee should remember the absolute impossibility of getting useful Western German co-operation in a Western European Union if we were to leave Berlin that I have spoken today.
Finally, the Foreign Secretary made it quite clear that somebody must climb down in Berlin. He said that it will not be the British, and that can only mean that we expect the Russians to climb down. It is easy enough for us to feel a little jingoistic about it, to say that we must defend our status in Berlin at all costs, and make it a matter of prestige. But it is much too serious to be considered as a matter of prestige, and the one hopeful factor which I see is that although the excuses that are put forward by Marshal Sokolovsky for the breakdown of all communications may seem to us artificial and absurd, at any rate they are very welcome, because it means that, when the time comes for the Russians to open up communications again, that can be done without serious loss of face. We know so well from history that the fear of loss of face has caused dozens of wars in the past. I therefore personally look upon it as welcome and a fortunate sign that, so far, nothing has been said by the 2247 Russians which would make it impossible for them to open up traffic again into Berlin without a dangerous loss of prestige.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
It is a pity that most of our Debate today has so far, and I presume will continue to be, centred on the so-called Berlin situation. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) that there is a much longer term policy that we ought to be considering. I think he underestimated the importance of this Berlin incident, because if it is not satisfactorily settled there is no hope whatever of accomplishing all those things which he outlined, with most of which I agree and the Committee will agree. The Foreign Secretary has given us the situation in moderately phrased terms, but he has very succinctly put it to us that the situation is grave. When a Foreign Secretary uses those words we can take it that the situation is very serious indeed.
There have been many commentators who have likened it to the position at Munich before the war and there are many hon. Members who will remember those Debates. What is happening in Berlin is a trial of strength in which we must not possibly fail. Let us make no mistake about it. The Foreign Secretary has put it to us quite frankly and plainly, and those who agree with him and cheer his words must be ready to face the situation as it develops. I cannot conceive that Russia would act in such a fashion as Hitler did, because she has so much to lose if she did. She has devastated provinces just as well as Germany. She needs her long-term plan of policy just as much as Western Germany or Eastern Germany, and I hope it may be possible through diplomatic sources to bring Russia in a conversational frame of mind to the green table. But if by any chance they are adamant, and we have plenty of evidence to show that so far they have not been too co-operative in these talks, then how are we to face that situation?
I do not believe that we can solve the important problem of feeding two and a half million people in Berlin by the use of the R.A.F. or the American Air Force. It is a physical impossibility. The right 2248 hon. Member for Warwick and Learning-ton (Mr. Eden) who spoke in an optimistic tone was, I think, underestimating the situation. There can be only one way of feeding Berlin and that is by rail and road and barge, and on that issue the Russians will have to be more forthcoming. Moreover, if anybody is going to do that job it is going to be the Americans, because they have the transport planes, and not we. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington instanced the way that we helped to keep China going "over the hump," and Burma, and other areas during the war. But that was a war situation, with one complete objective, one combined command—which we have not got today—and everything was turned on to the military objective. Today it is no longer possible. The Americans have not the transport planes in Germany, and certainly the R.A.F. have not. I do not think the Russians are in any doubt as to our strength in the R.A.F. or the potentialities of the American Transport Command.
The Foreign Secretary has told us that there will be no surrender. So long as we make that quite clear to Russia I believe that she will be ready to talk at some time. Out of that I hope will come some compromise, which may not be entirely satisfactory for all of us, but the essence of compromise is that both sides must be prepared to go half way to meet each other. There is one suggestion I would make to the Committee and that is this. At present I have reason to believe that, in the military sphere at any rate, the American contribution in Germany is far less than our own. Therefore, if America is going to play, shall we say, fifty-fifty, she will have to reinforce her military forces in Germany, and very quickly.
That will not be taken as a threat against Russia any more than the maintenance of British military forces in, if I may say so, a far more excellent operational condition than the American military forces in Germany. I hope, therefore, that the Foreign Secretary will stress that point very strongly to his American colleagues if we are to implement that assertion of no surrender. I do not want to say any more on that issue at the moment. I do not think any of us can contribute much to the solution of this problem, or that flamboyant speeches are going to help towards settling 2249 it. What we have to be certain of is that there is no surrender, but that we take every means of bringing the Russians to the conference table.
I will devote my remarks to what I would call the administration of Germany. The hon. Member for East Coventry has touched on one or two aspects of it. During the war we had what was known as S.H.A.E.F. That was a headquarters of British and American officers of all grades, from the highest down to the lowest, co-operating together for one end. Today we have not that in the civil or the military administration of Germany. Today we have separate zones, French, British and American, being run almost autonomously. It is true that at Frankfort and Berlin there is some co-operation at the high levels, but I go so far as to say that there is not enough co-operation at the lower levels. That is the reason why we are getting so much confusion in Germany today.
The Germans are looking to the British and American administration to bring them something better than they have had. So far, although we have helped to feed Germany, we have not given any outstanding instance of the efficiency of Western democracy. I believe that we can do more. I certainly believe, as does the hon. Member for East Coventry, that it would not do any harm to reduce the civil and military government forces in Germany. Indeed, it is inherent in any self-government that we concede to the Germans. We shall not want these large forces in Germany. Many of them comprise individuals—I do not wish to deprecate their efforts or intentions—who have no security of tenure whatever; and are always looking behind them to England for the time when they have to be deprived of their posts and come back and find another job. How can we create a Civil Service, because that is what the civil administration of Germany comes to, on those terms? I agree with the hon. Member for East Coventry that the present division—