HL Deb 12 November 1947 vol 152 cc587-646

THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER rose to call attention to conditions in the British Zone in Germany, and to the urgent need of completing a Treaty of Peace between Germany and Austria and the Allied Powers as a result of the November Conference of Foreign Ministers; and to move for Papers.

The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, I should like first to thank the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, for his courtesy in postponing his important Motion on coal to a later date in order to allow my Motion to take first place this afternoon. It is, I think, a sign of general agreement that the time is ripe for a debate in this House on the future of Germany, especially in view of the November Conference of Foreign Ministers, as well as in view of conditions in the British Zone. The subject is vast, and every day adds to its urgency. Indeed, every day opens men's eyes more and more in our own and other countries—and not least in France—to the fact that, terrible as is Germany's guilt for launching the war and for inflicting suffering on millions of innocent people, the recovery of Germany on a democratic and peaceful basis is essential to the recovery of Europe, and that the longer it is delayed the more will the situation in Europe and the world deteriorate. So much information about the British Zone now comes through from various sources that the gravity of the material situation is far better appreciated than it was a year ago. It is unnecessary therefore for me to give your Lordships a mass of details. I propose rather to call attention to a few outstanding facts in the British Zone to-day and emphasize the need of a constructive plan; and then proceed to the fundamental issue with which the November Conference has to deal, the shaping of the future of Germany.

The outstanding fact in the British Zone is the crisis of confidence. I have been three times to Germany since the end of the war, and every time the position is worse. I am in constant touch with Germans who during the war suffered imprisonment and other penalties for their anti-Nazi conduct; I see many British people and others who visited or worked in the Zone, and the story pieced together is to the same effect; destruction and devastation on a colossal scale. But the grave faces and the despairing looks of the people are worse. The food situation is extremely serious, though I know it is part of the world shortage. The level of coal production follows the level of the food ration.

The Select Committee on Estimates in another place, speaking of the breakdown in the food supply last spring, write as follows: The basic ration, which was nominally fixed at 1,550 calories, fell to below 1,000. As a result, coal production, on which the prosperity of the Zone depends, dropped disastrously at a time when it had just reached a new high level of 233,000 tons a day. In addition, the shortage had a great effect on the morale of the Germans, whose feelings hardened towards those whom they were bound to hold responsible for these conditions. Add these facts: only 9,000,000 out of a population of 22,500,000 are employed; the great number of refugees from the east of Germany; the sub-human housing conditions; low industrial production; complaints of the export of coal and electric current to western countries when coal is urgently needed for the maintenance of the bare existence of the German people; complaints, right or wrong, of the machinery of the economic section of the Military Government which it is said cripples the development of all economic activities; and the fear of next winter. Then one cannot wonder that the great majority of Germans think that the British people want to punish and partly to destroy the German people. Even those who are inclined to listen to arguments suggest that, even if the Allies should not aim at the destruction of the German people, the result would come to something like that, and that therefore it does not really matter whether or not the British do this intentionally.

What the Germans in the British Zone undoubtedly see is a whole series of restrictions, prohibitions, negations and chains. What they do not see and what they crave is a plan. This matter of the lack of plan is also strongly emphasized by the Select Committee, who say: Your Committee are impressed by the necessity for the clearest possible directive on British policy in Germany at the highest level and throughout the organization. All concerned should be quite clear as to what they are attempting to do. There are two topics which are everywhere discussed at the present time. One is denazification. This has been going on for two and a half years. There is great exasperation at its slowness and at the incidental unfairness. There is general agreement that those guilty of crimes should be punished, and that high-ranking Party leaders should also be punished. But the great majority of those involved in denazification were ordinary people, weak, who went with the tide; and the general view, outside certain Left Wing Party members, is that there should be an amnesty for these, or if not, that they should at least be put in groups under trusted Anti-Nazis on probation.

Then there are particular troubles concerning the cases of civilian internees. You often find a husband in one camp and a wife in another for two and a half years, and their children left to chance. You find the Hitler youth leaders, the last people that should be together, herded together and keeping themselves alive and their spirits going by insistence on the old Hitler ideology. It is also said that German tribunals are composed far too much on Left Wing lines. Since October the whole process of denazification has been handed over to German tribunals, and it has been announced that the whole process is to be complete in three months, by December 31. I should like to ask the noble Lord who will reply, will they really be cleared by that date? Will all, including the lesser Nazis in internment, have had their cases quite settled by then? Last: January I was told that the number of lesser Nazis at large but excluded or removed from office amounted to 240,000, and it was then estimated that it would take until the autumn of 1948 before their cases were settled. Will their cases be settled by December 31? Will they be set free from these disqualifications? If they are not all clear, will there be an amnesty for the rest?

The other topic which engages public discussion is dismantlement. It is generally accepted that disarmament is virtually complete in the British Zone. That was a difficult and essential task very well done. But in recent weeks there has come this new order for the dismantling of war plants and of industrial plants surplus to the bizonal level of industry as a part of reparations. There are 682 plants in the American and British Zones together, of which 496 are in the British and 180 in the American Zone. There is a fair distinction between war plants and general industrial plants. I agree with the dismantling of the 302 war plants as such; but what is now the justification for dismantling the rest which are not on List A—92 ferrous metal factories, 42 chemical, 224 mechanical engineering and so forth—two and a half years after the end of the war? The Foreign Secretary in another place said that the total amount of man-power needed to pull down all the plants—I suppose the war plants as well as the others—would be 30,000 men and that 50,000 who are now employed would be turned out of employment, besides thousands in dependent small factories which are supposed to survive.

Your Lordships will agree that, if Germany is to recover—and about that I shall have something to say later—it is vital to get the commercial and industrial process going again. Of the non-military, industrial plants, there are 294 in North Rhineland and Westphalia alone. It is said that only one per cent. of the population of the German working people is employed on this process, and this one per cent. is mostly in the Ruhr. An enormous proportion of the total man-power and a very serious threat to morale are involved in this matter. I should like to know who was consulted about the precise factories proposed for dismantlement and whether calculations of a precise character have been made, factory by factory, in the British Zone so that there is a guarantee that the now permitted level of industry, eleven and a half million tons of steel, will be reached. The permitted level is far from being achieved as yet with these factories in production. Are the regional commissioners all in sympathy with this plan? I know that it has been said in this House by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel: How could the British Ministers face their colleagues at the November Conference without some action of this kind having been taken? We could understand putting in representatives of other Powers like Holland, France and Belgium to control the production; but it is surely madness to destroy. Can you wonder at the crisis in confidence being still more aggravated by this, or at the cry "The British have no plans to increase production but only for destruction," or at the growth in silent nationalism, or at the fuel added to the underground power of Communism spreading from east to west?

The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, addressed the Foreign Press Association at the end of November, and commenting on the destruction of plant that could be converted to peaceful use, said this: Few, however, I think, who have had much to do with this problem, doubt that, in the last analysis, wars are made in the minds of men. What matters far more than anything else, therefore, in doing this job in Germany—the real standard by which history will judge us—is what effect we have had or have not had, at the end of it, on the mind of the German people. The effect on the mind of the Germany people of the policy just described is not for peace. Other destruction has also been ordered, or is going on. I refer to the air-raid shelters on a very large scale in Hamburg, Berlin and many other towns. These shelters, these bunkers, which I myself have been in, are now used for housing in a desperate housing situation. Imagine the effect on the mind of the German people! The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, at the same Foreign Press Association meeting, said that we are in Germany for three reasons: security, education and economics, and security comes first: Under the first head we have been extremely successful. At any rate on a short run view. The country is disarmed and, in a military sense, tranquil. All that is taken for granted now, but it was not so certain two-and-a-half years ago. Why then for security reasons destroy airraid shelters? What you are really doing is destroying houses.

Let me give your Lordships an example which puts the whole situation in a vivid way, the case of Lubeck. I will venture to read a letter which I have received from the Evangelical Lutheran Bishop of Lubeck. He writes from Lubeck on October 15: I beg to draw your Lordship's attention to a decision made by the Control Commission for Germany and of the utmost importance for the town of Lubeck and its population. After the heavy air raid on Lubeck of March, 1942, a number of air-raid shelters in iron concrete were erected to protect civilians. After the armistice, these were at great cost demilitarized by cutting windows and other apertures in them, thus making them vulnerable to blast and splinters and, at the same time, adapting them as dwellings or storage rooms. The Control Commission has now ordered that they should be made ready for blowing up inside half a year. All experts agree that for the town the consequences of such a destruction would only be disastrous. As these shelters are mostly situated inside closely built-up areas, the dwelling-houses and stores around them would be destroyed with them if they were blown up. It is estimated that a total of at least 80,000 square yards of dwelling and storage space would thus be destroyed, which corresponds about to the effect of the heavy air raid of 1942. The twelfth-century Cathedral and the thirteenth-century Marienkirche, both already badly mauled by the air raid and just now receiving first aid, as well as the St. Egidy Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the St. Mary's Hospital, would be among the buildings immediately endangered. Incalculable is the misery that would be inflicted on the town, over-populated as it is with refugees from the east, whose numbers are continuously on the increase. In view of the prevailing building difficulties, it would be impossible to make good the loss of dwelling space. Already some 18,000 refugees are encamped in appalling conditions outside the town as there is no possibility of getting dwellings for them. Furthermore, beside the wholesale destruction of churches and other buildings of great historical value, the town's traffic would almost come to a standstill for a long time, and many leakages would have to be expected in the town's canalization, thus giving rise to the danger of epidemics, not to count the material damage that would amount to many millions. With the greatest apprehension, the inhabitants of Lubeck foresee this calamity without being in any way able to avert or mitigate it. In their anguish they address themselves to the Christian Churches and beg them, conscious of the still prevailing common ground of Christian civilization in Europe and a great part of the world, to appeal for a common effort in the name of humanity and indeed of reason. And the writer signs himself "Paulke."

This is really a typical instance. I know that the Foreign Secretary said in another place on October 27, defending his reparations policy: Why all this tenderness in view of the devastation everybody has suffered [at Germany's hands]? I am forgiving, but I am not so forgiving as that. But, my Lords, this is not a question about what Germany deserves. The real point is that we have got to make a choice between two alternatives. Either you must keep Germany in chains, keep her destroyed, devastated, desperate, and pay the price of a permanent sore in the middle of Europe, with the certainty of universal Communism and war, or you must enable Germany to recover in a peaceable and democratic way and pay the price of allowing them more coal and food, ceasing to dismantle industries and, now that she is completely disarmed, set her free to organize her economic recovery. Believe me, I do not underestimate the difficulties. I have great respect for the heads of the Control Commission in Germany and for many of their staff. They are high-minded, conscientious, and able men. I recognize the enormous difficulties caused by quadripartite action which depends on unanimity. I know that five major Potsdam decisions were never carried out, making the British task correspondingly harder. But in the British Zone British responsibility is involved, and British honour is at stake.

I believe intensely that we have a great deal to give to Germany, and that Germany has a great deal to learn from our way of life. It is very fortunate that we have Mr. Robert Birley in charge of reeducation in the British Zone. But, how can we begin to get access for this good way of life if the actual things seen breathe frustration and negation, and no positive plan is seen? So I would say, now that Germany is thoroughly disarmed—that is agreed—bring denazification to a complete end with an amnesty for all lesser Nazis; return any plants that have been stolen to France, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Yugoslavia, but give up the dismantling of all plant which is not classified in List A as war plant; stop the destruction of air-raid shelters; allow the retention of more coal in the British Zone; increase the import of, food into it; and, while giving expert advice and help when required, place the responsibility for Germany's economic recovery fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Germans themselves, and give them the means of exercising their responsibilities to the full.

I have said nothing about Anglo-American bizonal administration, but I have only to read from the Select Committee's reference to that to show that: The Bi-partite Administration has met with many difficulties. There is a great shortage of accommodation in Frankfurt … the duplication of American and British Staffs is at least wasteful and some integration of staffs is necessary on the grounds of economy if not also of efficiency. Moreover, your Committee gained the impression that it is generally felt that the present bizonal organization cannot be of more; than a transitional character. … This uncertainty affects not only the American and British administrations, but equally the Germans. Your Committee were informed that, until the decision of the next meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is known, it will be difficult to persuade responsible Germans to accept positions in the Bizonal Administration, and that there is a lack of feeling of responsibility on the part of the, Germans. What is urgently required is a representative German Central Government with full responsibilities within clearly defined limits, and if this cannot be obtained for the whole of Germany then that regrettable result must not be further prejudiced by a failure to provide responsible government for a part of Germany.

This leads the argument straight to the Conference of Foreign Ministers. Many are said to be pessimistic about the result. What will Russia say or do? Experience tends to damp our hopes. Yet if it is the decisive conference the Western Powers must do everything possible to make it succeed. Not only patience and energy, but a constructive plan are required. What is required is a new approach from the West. I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, speaking of Mr. Bevin to the Foreign Press Association, said he doubted if he had ever mobilized greater energies than those he is summoning for November to prevent a definitive split of Germany and Europe and the world into east and west. Three points have been referred by the Moscow Conference to the Council of Foreign Ministers; first, ways and means for bringing other Allied States into the treaty making; second, the nature and scope of a provisional political régime for a unified Germany; and, third, compensation for United Nations citizens who possess interests in German property taken for reparations or war booty. Far the most important of the three is the second and, therefore, I propose to deal with that alone.

The British representatives at Moscow, it is understood, countered the Russian proposal for political unity by a demand for economic unity as the first step. I suggest that we leave economic unity for the moment and concentrate on political unity, for this reason: Suppose you had economic unity, its direction must be under some governing authority. There are two alternative governing authorities, either Allied control, in which case the system remains a dictatorship and economic recovery will fail, or German control, which must ultimately be political in character. A unified political régime would seem essential from the economic point of view as well as from others. Therefore I propose the setting up by the Four Powers, forthwith, of a provisional political régime for a unified Germany. But the nature and scope of that régime will have to be defined. The first question one asks is: how far is it to depend on the occupying Powers? The experience of the Kommandatura in Berlin is not encouraging. The only way is that any new Central Government should have full powers and that the Allies should exercise only indirect control. Unless the Central Government has powers it will be of no use. Therefore, I say let the Provisional Central German Government have full power in the non-military field, subject to safeguards to which I shall allude in a moment, and let the Occupying Powers have the right to intervene in case of necessity.

As the next point, I suggest that the provisional political régime should conform to four basic principles. First, it must not be a menace to the security of Europe. Therefore military affairs must be excluded, and there will be the right of the Occupying Powers to intervene. Second, it must be consistent with the sound future political development of Europe. Therefore it must cover the whole of Germany, and not allow anything to divide Germany into two blocs with two capitals. Third, it must have real responsibility. It must control all matters of public concern except the military, but including foreign affairs, for if it is not allowed to include foreign affairs within its scope, foreign policy will become a matter of secret intrigue, a sort of black market. Fourth, it must be free and democratic. Therefore, there must be an elected Parliament and individuals of all Parties must be eligible for election. It must not be a One-party State, whether that Party is the Social Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Union or the Communist or any other Party. At the same time, it should be built upon the Land, each with its own Parliament, and each of the Land Parliaments being responsible for education, culture, health, and possibly, police. Elections in the towns and villages should be to the Land Parliament and from the Land Parliament to the Central. In this way you would combine a unitary system, on which it is very difficult now to go back, with a sufficient federal sub-structure.

Obviously, the exact relation of the Land to the Centre will be a matter for discussion. Objection has been made to the Russian plan for political unity on the ground that it is bound to be a Communist régime. That is not at all the case if the régime were to be set up now, tough it might well be so if it is long postponed. I am told that in the existing voting strength of the whole of Germany the Communists together with the Social Unity Party are at the ratio of one to four. Thus if you had an elected Central Parliament you would have the Communists as a minority, a very distinct minority—only one quarter or one fifth.

Then there is a further requirement of great importance. This provisional political régime must be able to act. The Russians in seeking a political unity would certainly wish that régime to have power. It would be madness to exchange the present kind of deadlock when there is no Central Government for another kind of deadlock when there is a Central Government but one which is paralyzed. So it is essential that the Western Powers, in putting forward their conception of political unity, sketched as I suggest, should insist on guarantees: first, that the personal freedom of individuals throughout all Germany should be guaranteed by all the Powers together; second, that elections and democratic institutions throughout all Germany should be similarly guaranteed by all the Allies; and, third, that all decisions taken by the Four Powers in connexion with the government of Germany should be decided by a majority. That is to say the requirement of unanimity, which means paralysis, must go.

I believe that if the Western Powers made a proposal for setting up forthwith a provisional political régime for the unity of Germany, conceived in this way and subject to these guarantees, they would be taking a long step forward towards the recovery of Germany and, therefore, of Europe. The Russians could no longer claim that they alone are interested in German unity. It would put new heart into the German people in all four zones. At last there would be a definite plan coming from the West which meets their needs and the needs of Europe, deals with the crisis of confidence, and is firm and strong against war. Will the Russians accept such a plan? It is not impossible. It was they who proposed political unity, and we should nail them down to that fact. It gives what they want—that is political unity—though attaching conditions. I am convinced that such a plan should be pressed very hard by the Western Powers. If in spite of patient, skilful and energetic pressure it is not accepted by all four zones at present, then it should be worked forthwith in the full way to cover the three Western zones, with the door kept open for the East. Even that though not ideal, would break the present deadlock for a large part of Germany and give a powerful demonstration in action of the reality of the Western free democratic conception of political life for Germany to-day. But before falling back on a three-zonal political provisional régime for the unification of Germany, let us do our very utmost to secure that it covers the whole. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure your Lordships are grateful to the right reverend Prelate for raising an issue which must concern every citizen in this country, regardless of Party, and on which, it seems to me, many citizens must have individual views which largely cut across Party lines. In the course of his speech the right reverend Prelate asked the noble Lord who is to reply on behalf of the Government a great many questions. It will be for the noble Lord to answer these questions and to reply to some of the statements and allegations of stupid actions which have been made. I am sure that we on this side of the House will wait with interest to hear the reply to these points.

The right reverend Prelate divided his Motion into two parts. The first was, "to call attention to conditions in the British Zone in Germany" and the second to call attention to "the urgent need of completing a treaty" at the forthcoming Conference of Foreign Ministers. On the second point I would say only that I think most of us hope that a satisfactory treaty will be concluded, but the inference in this Motion is that the need for completing a treaty is urgent.


As a result of the Conference.


As a result. I would say that, both for Germany and this country, it is better to have no treaty than a bad treaty. To go to the Conference with the one purpose of appeasing any opposition, of placating those with opposing views in order to arrive at a signed document, would be a policy not consistent with the interests of Europe and this country. Let us look for a moment at what, in my view, would be a, good treaty. A good treaty is one which provides two things—a central, representative Government in Germany, combined with a division of the powers of that Central Government down to strong area government. I will not elaborate that point or the suggestions made by the right reverend Prelate as to how a treaty should be framed, but that is what I would describe as a good treaty. A bad treaty is one which places all the powers in the hands of a Central Government, which is not representative, and allows little or no powers of area government. Whether the legal representation is on the Right or the Left, a Central Government which can be dominated by outside influences and which controls the whole of Germany, would be very bad for this country, for Germany and for the rest of Europe.

In the course of his speech the right reverend Prelate made very strong pleas and if, in the remarks I make, I take a view somewhat on the other side in some matters I am sure that he will take no exception. We must take a balanced view on all these problems. For instance, the right reverend Prelate talked about the despair and disillusion in Germany. Like the right reverend Prelate and other noble Lords who have studied this question, I have been fortunate enough to go to Germany recently. I certainly found disillusionment among the youth of Germany, but I still found much resentment against this country and much refusal on the part of the Germans to face the truth. I would hazard the statement that 75 per cent. of the people in Germany are to-day firmly convinced that we are taking food out of the country. We can tell them the opposite; we can tell them the truth, that far from taking food out of Germany we in this country are going short of increases of rations in order that we shall feed Germany; we can send trade union leaders to Hamburg—as was done—to see the bills of lading of ships and let them examine what was taken out of Germany to try and stop the story that German butter was going out of the country labelled "German Butter." The fact remains that the vast majority of people in Germany, though we have done our best to convince them, refuse to believe the truth. In my view a great number of them to-day do not wish to accept the truth.

The right reverend Prelate, if I understood him aright, said that conditions in Germany at present are bound to be attributed to those with whom responsibility lies. I suppose he meant that this country was responsible.


I quoted the Report of the Select Committee of another place.


Certainly; but going right back I do not see that the citizens of this country can fail to remember where the responsibility for the major destruction of Germany lies. It lies with the Germans themselves, in their thought and actions in the past. I was glad to hear the right reverend Prelate pay a tribute to the officers of the Control Commission, and I am sure these officers will be heartened by that tribute. Of course, in every large organization there are black sheep, but by and large I think that anyone who goes to Germany will agree that the vast majority of Control Commission officers are hard-working citizens, trying to fulfil not always pleasant duties in an impartial spirit, not taking any account of their own particular sentiment on whichever side that may lie. We cannot, however, carry this financial and administrative Lord permanently. So far as we can, we must devolve the administrative responsibility on to local German governments. We have made a start, but it is as well to remember that the pace at which the decentralization of power to local German governments can progress is limited by the ability of the Germans to absorb the functions of government. Local governments often started by passing resolutions on U.N.O., the Marshall Plan, or on our actions in Palestine, instead of getting down to the particular purpose for which they were appointed. My experience in Germany was that the German governments are making a start, but that they will have to be nursed for a considerable time before we can fulfil our wish to decentralize administration.

I would say only a word on denazification, about which there has been criticism to-day and criticism in the Press. We are all for catching the big boys, but do not let us go for the sprats! As the Foreign Secretary said in another place, 4,000,000 Germans joined the Nazi Party and swore the oath of loyalty, and every one of these must bear some share of responsibility for the past. But denazification is now past history, so far as our administration is concerned, because as from September I it has been handed over to the German Land Governments who, I understand, are to appoint a special Minister to look after this problem. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot on the one hand criticize the administration of denazification, if we entrust it to the Germans, and on the other say that we ought to give greater administrative responsibility to the Germans. We must make up our minds which horse we are going to ride. As regards the actual conditions, the right reverend Prelate painted a picture of the British Zone descending in its progress. I think an actual study of statistics on the spot would show a rather contrary picture. Goodness knows, one cannot say things are good, but one can say there is some sign of improvement and some hope. The majority of the Germans are now getting their 1,550 calories a day. When you see our rations coming down and German rations going up, you must give credit to the citizens of this country for the sacrifices they have made in order that food conditions in Germany may be improved. I could not understand the right reverend Prelate's reference to a fall in coal production, because, in fact, coal production in the Ruhr has gone up from 180,000 tons a day to the recent all-high record of 273,000 tons. That increase has taken place over nine months. There may have been ups and there may have been downs, but the answer is that there has been a gradual increase.


The fall to which I referred was a fall last spring. I did not say it was falling now.


I think that is very relevant to the point I am endeavouring to make, which is not quite in accord with the right reverend Prelate's argument. The right reverend Prelate's argument was that things are going down, and he quoted the coal figures as a sign. When I counter those figures, he says that the figures are in relation to last spring. In Parliamentary debate, if I may say so with respect, I think that is a false point, because he is quoting the past in relation to a situation which is improving in the present. Broadly speaking, I think there is sign of an improvement in the situation. When I was in Germany I took the trouble to look at the figures of the chief notifiable diseases, which are always a good sign, and the infant mortality per thousand live births. Actually, there has been a steady decline. For instance, in July, 1936, there were 104 deaths per 1,000 births, and in July of this year the figure had gone down to 63 per 1,000. The death rate is improving slightly. I give your Lordships those facts only with the object of trying to bear out what I say, that I do not think the picture of increasing depression painted by the right reverend Prelate is really the right one.

The right reverend Prelate talked about the problem of displaced persons and refugees. Actually, refugees are coming into the British Zone at the rate of about 10,000 a week, which creates a very big problem. We have also some 250,000 out of the total of 600,000 displaced persons. We have done our part, and if only Governments in some other zones had fulfilled their duties as we have, the problem would not be so great for us or for anyone else to solve. I do suggest that the burden of displaced persons must not be put upon the shoulders of Britain alone. It is an international problem, and if the United Nations would tackle it and divide the 600,000 among some fifty nations, the problem would almost disappear overnight.

I come now to the question of the dismantling of the plants. It seems to me that the issue we have got to face is, reparations or no reparations. We have our Government saying—and I believe the majority of citizens in this country would support the Government in this—that reparations are part of a just price which should be paid by Germany for the war. But let us remember that even if we took an opposite view Belgium., Holland and France are not going to agree with it. One of the things we want to achieve is unity amongst the Allies; to get as much agreement as possible with them, and not to separate ourselves from our Allies on such questions as that. I, personally, rather wish we did not talk about dismantling factories separately from the main question, which is one of reparations, the dismantling of the factories being really part of the total plan. In case one or two of your Lordships are not fully briefed let me say that the dismantling of these factories is part of the plan to bring Germany's level of industry back to its state in 1936. The assumption is that after 1936 Germany inflated her factories—not only war factories, but factories of all types—in order to achieve, first, war supplies, and, secondly, a war potential. The bizonal agreement had to take some date line, and 1936 was taken. My criticism of the 1936 level of industry plan is that 1936 was two years too late. However, having made that criticism, I cannot see any alternative but to go forward on some such plan, unless we are to abandon reparations.

There are 682 plants, 192 of which are war plants; another 100 I understand have already been dismantled, leaving about 400 plants to be dismantled out of a total of some 50,000. My plea to the Government would be this. Let it be a flexible plan. Let there be provisions in the 1936 level of industry plan which, if our experts are shown to be wrong in one or many directions, will allow a review where errors are made. For instance, the level of steel production in the Ruhr was agreed, I think, at 10,700,000 tons. The right reverend Prelate gave a slightly different figure, but we need not argue about that. As I understand it, the German trade union leaders in the Ruhr who, broadly, have not opposed this 1936 plan so far with any great force, said: "We do not disagree with your level of steel production for the Ruhr, but we do not think that under the dismantling plan you have left us enough plant to produce that steel." I understand that that matter has been adjusted. I think the plan is sufficiently flexible to allow an adjustment. I hope that when the noble Lord replies he will assure us that if it is intended to proceed with this plan, there are ample provisions for flexibility and review where it is found wanting.

The right reverend Prelate mentioned air raid shelters. I was in an air raid shelter at Hanover recently which is used as an hotel. I, too, thought how very absurd it was that it should be dismantled, but on investigation I found that two days earlier it had been reprieved. It may be that there are other reprieves. But let us ask the noble Lord to-day to give us an assurance that there will be flexibility and sensibility in the administration of this plan. I am inclined to support the plan, not only in respect of reparations, but also from the point of view of the efficiency of German industry. There are to-day in Germany far too many factories working 15, 25 and 30 per cent. time, manned only by 20, 30 and 40 per cent. of the man-power required. If, district by district, you can centralize production and get fewer factories, better manned and working longer time, then this plan should have the effect of increasing German production rather than of reducing it, as its critics say it will.

I understand that approximately 25 per cent. of the factories to be dismantled as capital goods reparations are to go to Russia. I hope that we are not going to be told that this is in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, because, as the right reverend Prelate has said, that Agreement has been breached by five major decisions, and I believe we are all getting a little tired of hearing that everybody else can break the Potsdam Agreement but that this country is bound consistently by it. If this level of industry plan—with its evils and weaknesses which may exist and which I hope will be eradicated—can give the Germans the certainty of progress for three or four years, then I believe its advantages will outweigh its disadvantages, because it will be the first real positive step forward that we have offered to Germany. The worst possible thing will be if we start on this plan and then for any reason fail. It would be much better not to start it if we are not determined to go through with it.

The right reverend Prelate said that the alternatives for us were a desert Germany, a Germany barren and down and out, or a revived Germany. I agree with him entirely; I think those are the broad alternatives. Let us say that we will not relinquish our responsibility for the revival of Germany and will not be panicked into the withdrawal of our troops until we have fulfilled our task, purged Germany of the virus of evil which has existed for three generations in her blood, and are quite sure that, for our own sakes and for the sakes of the rest of Europe, a healthy Germany will spring up which can never again be a menace to civilization, as we have seen her in the past fifty years.

3.52 p.m.


My Lords, it is very difficult for me to follow the two speakers who have spoken to this Motion, for which I think everyone in your Lordships' House will be extremely grateful, especially at this juncture on the eve of a meeting which may or may not produce sufficient agreement for a treaty. I find myself perhaps in a different position from that of many speakers who have spoken to Motions of this sort. I have not been in Germany, and therefore I do not propose to speak of what I have seen and there may be some slight advantage in that. It may be an advantage to read and hear about Germany on a more general level, with a more general picture, than to have one's perspective obscured by this or that detailed point.

As a result of visits to Germany, there has been perhaps too much criticism of one particular thing which has gone wrong. By that criticism an immense amount of harm has been done, especially among people who are engaged in trying to administer Germany. I certainly would not wish to follow critics along that road. My approach to this subject, for what it may be worth, is on a really totally different line. Much of what the right reverend Prelate has said, equally with what was said by the noble Lord who has just sat down, will be agreed in your Lordships' House. Perhaps the real difficulty of the German situation to-day—and on this I hope to take your Lordships with me—has to do with the pace at which things have been done. We shall probably all be agreed that the major ground of criticism has been about the delay in arriving at a decision or making a certain degree of progress. But I am inclined to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, that there has been progress and that the position is obviously not so bad as it was last year.

It is all too common to-day to see only the black side. Even in Germany there have been certain definite improvements, and there have been notable improvements during the period of our administration, about which a great deal was said in your Lordships' House in the debate which took place approximately a year ago, I think in December of last year.

There still remains the difficulty in which I find myself, of not being able to get an understanding of what our policy has been or is intended to be. I believe a good deal of the doubt in my mind, and perhaps elsewhere, is due to the fact that no clear direction has been given or carried out on what is the main issue in the Government of Germany to-day. Are we trying to govern Germany—and when I say "we," I mean the Americans, the French and ourselves—or are the Germans supposed to be governing Germany? I believe that obscurity in direction in any policy is as prevalent in our administration and that of the American Zone in Germany as it is here in England. It: is on that accounts—for I see no other explanation—that we have these curious duplications of controls of which I am sure the noble Lord who is going to reply is personally very well aware.

To quote one example—the machinery for the distribution of raw materials: An elaborate control of distribution machinery has been set up in the zones, and in theory that administration is supposed to allocate the raw materials which are available for manufacture. But at the same time, and parallel with that, there is a precisely similar control organization in both the British and American Zones. The result of those two parallel control systems, is the infinite delay in allocations and in results which has been the subject of complaint by the Germans as well as by members of our Allied Western administration. I am sure the difficulty i: a people's minds in Germany is caused by their not knowing what it is precisely they are supposed to be doing. Are they in fact supposed to be supervising and inspecting, or are they supposed to be executives? Until that has been made clear I do not think a coherent policy in Germany itself becomes possible. The point is one which will not be lost upon the noble Lord who is to reply, because as a matter of fact he and I have discussed it in the past.


I am sure the noble Lord will not hold me responsible for the opinions he is now expressing or any others he may express.


I hope the noble Lord, in the course of the speech he will make in winding up this debate, will refer to that aspect of our administration and the objectives which our people there are supposed to have in mind. That brings me to another example where I think the same difficulty arises, and that concerns the dismantling of factories. I do not propose to quote figures which have received fairly wide publicity, and I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, that the problem of dismantling is really whether we want to have reparations, and how many, or how much in reparations we want. I personally do not follow him in the conclusion which I think was implicit in his remarks, that we are entitled and ought to have reparations, and that therefore the dismantling ought to take place. I do not follow him there on account of the economic situation which confronts the world generally, Western Europe in particular, and ourselves in this country. It may sound illogical to use that as a reason for not dismantling or not taking reparation, but is not the real basis of the problem we are facing to-day—which has become so abundantly clear from the Marshall Plan and the Harriman Report—in Western Europe in general, that of under-production; under-production in this country and under-production on the Continent?

That that is the feeling in America, is borne out by that passage in the Harriman Report which speaks of aid to Germany. I find myself completely in agreement. But if Germany is to be aided to produce more it is illogical, at the same time, to dismantle the manufacturing equipment which there is, in order to reduce the standard of production to the 1936 or 1938 level, or to the level of any other chosen year. I feel that whatever decisions may have been taken in the past and whatever the rights and wrongs of the Potsdam Agreement were, we in Western Europe have reached a stage of economic difficulty which requires a complete reconsideration of the premises of that Agreement and the decision to dismantle 682 German factories. In that decision there is a further example of the lack of clarity in our policy to which I have referred. On the one hand, it was announced that the list of factories which were to be dismantled was a "final" list; on the other hand, it seems to be perfectly clear that it is not a final list, because in addition to those factories which are listed by the various categories already mentioned, there is a proviso that other factories of a more military character, the Category A factories, will also be dismantled. There is consequently really no finality.

The noble Lord who has just sat down has asked for the programme of dismantling to be administered flexibly, and with that I am in entire agreement. At the same time, I do see that the noble Lord sitting on the Front Bench opposite must have been faced with the apparently insoluble problem of being asked, on the one hand, to produce a final scheme, and on the other hand, to make it so flexible that it is not final at all. Where do we go from that point? I do not myself believe there should be a final scheme for dismantling. In fact, apart from what may may be purely military factories I do not believe that it is in the best interests of Western Europe to-day to reduce German productivity to the 1936 level. Many of your Lordships will, no doubt, disagree. I take that view because at the present moment in Western Europe and the world generally we want the maximum production and not any artificial low level either of 1936 or any other year. It is principally on account of that lack of production and lack of consuming power on the part of the population of Germany as a whole, or even the Western part of Germany, that we now have the economic difficulties in which we find ourselves.

If your Lordships will cast your minds back to the parallel period at the end of the 1914-18 war, you will recall that it was then commonly held—and to-day is generally accepted—that one of the reasons for the economic difficulties in which the world then found itself, was that 60,000,000 people had been taken out of production. If this was a contributory reason to our economic difficulties then, it is equally a valid reason for some of our difficulties to-day. That is a fact which has now been recognized in America; otherwise I find it difficult to explain the insertion of the paragraph in The Times summary of the Harriman Report which reads: In addition, the programme written at Paris may have to be modified by a shift in the amounts going to separate countries. In particular the aid allotted to Germany may have to be higher than was settled in Paris. I believe that to be entirely right. But if it is right; let us be consistent in what we are trying to do and not pursue two rabbits at the same time—that of cutting down productivity in Germany and that of increasing aid to Germany in order to restore productivity.

That brings me to the last and only other point I wish to make. This is more on the political side, and it refers to an attitude of mind which has been present for many months in the administration of bizonal government in Germany. It has been a matter of common knowledge that the British and American points of view have not coincided at all points. It is quite possible that both in the British and American zones separately there may be something of an imperio in imperium, which it is not always easy to deal with either from Washington or from London. I am afraid it is also true that these divergences have, most unfortunately, led to some recriminations and also to some, I do not say deterioration but to some friction in our relations with the United States of America. If these frictions are due to personalities, as they frequently are, then I hope His Majesty's Government for their part will remove the cause of these frictions as I am sure the United States Government will also do, by changing any personnel that may be at fault.

But at long last, what really matters is a single policy in the two zones, and that policy may be distasteful for many to accept, for by and large it must be in fact that policy which the United States Government wish to pursue. We have represented to the United States Government that the burden of carrying our administration in the British Zone is beyond our present capacity. It is not reasonable, at the same time, to say:

"You pay, but we will do what we want." If we are going to ask the United States Government to assist with the administration of the two zones of Germany—and I have purposely spoken only of the western part of Germany—the least we can do, I think is to agree to follow the policy which they themselves wish to carry out. I do not think that any other policy would be either possible or reasonable.

I certainly do not want to go down the road which the right reverend Prelate followed in the latter part of his speech. I certainly do not know what sort of Government a united Germany ought to have. Discussion of the matter may be a pleasant intellectual exercise, but I do not think it leads us very far. Accepting the state of things as it is, I believe that if that state had been accepted, as indeed I tried to suggest in December last, you have a line of division to-day which runs not only across Germany but also across Europe. Nothing which has happened in those twelve months has broken down that barrier. Indeed, the intellectual fortifications of that barrier have been strengthened. That is as much a matter of fact as the rain falling from the skies. You cannot administer either Germany or any other country except within the framework of facts. One of the major troubles I think, has been—indeed, the delays, the doubts and the difficulties to which I have referred have come from this—that we have always thought that what was might be different. Had we a year ago accepted that that dividing line existed, I am quite sure that decisions which have been delayed until now would have been taken before, and the administration of Germany would have been better than it is. Above all, it would have been possible to reach an economic policy at an earlier stage, as I think it should have been reached.

May I express the hope that His Majesty's Government will not try to con- clude a final scheme, or agreement for all time, about the level of German industry? I hope they will take rather the line of flexibility, and if possible say, even before the meeting which is to take place, and irrespective of any decisions that were taken at Potsdam, that the needs of Western Europe, including Germany, have a paramount claim on the attention of the Governments that are going to meet.

4.13 p.m.


My Lords, I do not wish to stand for more than a few moments between your Lordships and the reply of the spokesman of His Majesty's Government. I know only too well that the noble Lord who is to reply, and who is responsible to His Majesty's Government for the Control Commission's work in Germany, needs no exhortation from these Benches to put the very best of his ability and Christian concern to his work. I desire, however, to underline one or two things which have been said in this debate.

It is good to know that there is some material improvement in the condition of affairs in the British Zone, but there remains this sad and sorry fact, that the degree of spiritual malaise and political disillusionment seems to be either constant or on the increase. That is a most serious fact, and one which we have to take into full account. It is exceedingly disappointing to all of us that after two and a half years that should be the condition of affairs. The phrase "crisis of confidence" has been used, and the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, said (with very great truth) that a large number of people in Germany do not particularly want to have confidence in us. That, I think, is the normal psychological state of the people of an occupied country. But the distressing fact is that this jack of confidence extends also to those in that country who do want to have confidence in us and who do want to see a new order of things in Germany Further, it is very noticeable that people from this country who visit Germany seem to share in this crisis of confidence. I feel that His Majesty's Government should direct their attention to that point. One realizes that they are faced with most complicated political issues and economic issues, but there remains this fundamental problem of spiritual malaise and political disillusionment. One of the noble Lords who has already spoken referred to our desire to purge Germany of certain elements which for many generations have produced a state of affairs that has led to war. I have the uneasy feeling that we are not doing that, and that if anything the currents are tending to move in the other direction. So I would ask the noble Lord who is to reply whether he is satisfied that the kind of publicity which we are putting out in Germany is effective. By that I do not mean merely the kind of thing which might get served out to the local Press, but whether, as it were, the Control Commission are making as clear as I think they could make their good intentions, or whether there is not far too much stress on negative controls and other unpleasantnesses.

Again, I should like to ask the noble Lord,—I do this in no spirit of complaint—what is the situation in regard to the appalling refugee problem. Does he see any daylight at all in regard to that very real and desperate problem which, I imagine, is as hampering to our administration as to the German people themselves? Those who visit Germany, and those who speak on this subject, naturally and properly express their appreciation of the service rendered by our representatives in that country. I wonder, though, whether the quality of the service rendered by those in the most important positions might not become a little clearer if the quantity of our representatives were slightly, or even greatly, reduced. Surely, once administration is handed over to the German people themselves, if there is too much dual control a complicated situation will arise. One has the impression that in the lower ranks of the whole business this duality of control is not making for efficient administration.

The last point which I want to make, I make with great diffidence. I feel rather as though I am going outside the book of the noble Lord who is to reply, but I have it on my conscience to make it and I do so in the form of a question. Are His Majesty's Government satisfied that the whole set-up of the Army of Occupation is as good as it can be? I ask that question because we know that the moral price paid by the young men of the Army of Occupation is very great, that they are exposed to an atmosphere which tends to create demoralization. The only possible justification for allowing that to go on is to be quite sure that the total Army of Occupation is the most effective instrument available for this particular purpose. I leave my question in that form.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, I think you are all agreed upon the supreme importance of the topic which we are now debating, and I am—and I am sure your Lordships are—grateful to the right reverend Prelate for raising it. I speak with some diffidence on this subject because I am in no sense of the word an expert on this problem and, unlike almost all other noble Lords who have spoken, I have not visited Germany. I would like to make that perfectly plain before I start. It is not part of my purpose to discuss at any length the general problem, but I would like to indicate my general agreement with the remarks that fell from the lips of the noble Lord, Lord Rennell. On the grounds of common sense, I cannot persuade myself, from anything I have read, that a policy of dismantling Germany can be anything but bad in its effects.

I will take one particular point which has not been mentioned before. Suppose it could be shown that there were large numbers of redundant factories, and that those factories, when dismantled and removed, could be set up again and used effectively in other parts of Europe, what about the transport problem? Has anybody considered that? If they have considered it, is it right that we should preoccupy the over-crowded railways with the transport of dismantled German industries at a time when we are pouring money out to keep Germany alive? However, I do not in the least under-estimate the difficulties which confront His Majesty's Government, and I would like to offer my sympathy, if he will accept it, to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. I know that he has a vast problem, and I do not wish in any way to make it more difficult. I am sure that all parts of the House are glad that there is in charge of the administration someone who has, and makes no secret of it, adherence to Christian principles. If I make some remarks which appear to be critical, or at any rate pose questions, it is because I have been deeply moved by certain documents which have come into my hands.

The right reverend Prelate spoke of denazification. This is one of the crucial problems which have faced and still face us. One is aware that, when speaking of this problem, if one does not make use of the most violent terms condemning the Nazi régime, one is apt to be called a crypto-Nazi or Nazi sympathizer. I wish to say at the outset that I personally have no sympathy with the Nazi régime. When the question of denazification was first considered we were, I think, at war. The mentality of a people and their rulers during a war must naturally be somewhat abnormal. That is no criticism of the Government in office at the time, or of its members, but surely judgment on such problems must be admitted to be at least not clear.

I think it was agreed between the four Powers that we should carry out a process of denazification. When the scope and magnitude of the problem became clear, was it right to pursue it as we have pursued it? That is the first problem I must pose. Mr. Bevin, in another place, told us that there were 4,000,000 members of the Nazi Party in the British Zone of Germany. He has told us that no less than 370,000 persons have been removed from office, and I believe it true to say that there were until recently 23,000 interned.

Now I turn to the speech made in another place by the Foreign Secretary in which he enunciated the general principles which governed our policy towards Germany. He named three. They were: … to ensure that Germany is never again allowed to revert to a dictatorship, or to menace world security by the adoption of an aggressive policy; second, to establish constitutional machinery in Germany aimed at developing sound democratic institutions; and, third, to establish economic conditions in Germany which will secure for her a peaceful economy and an adequate standard of living. As aspirations I have no quarrel with any one of those principles enunciated by Mr. Bevin, but I do submit that in pursuing a policy to ensure that the first condition will be fulfilled we have made it if not impossible at least extremely difficult to fulfil the other two. Consider this. This country has, I believe, a population about double that of the British Zone in Germany. Suppose some 700,000 specialists, civil servants, soldiers, clerks or foremen, had been removed from their jobs, some of them taken from their homes, and some interned for long periods, would our already admittedly difficult situation have been made easier?

I am not in any way excusing members of the Nazi Party, but I do say that when you do have to tackle a problem of this scope, it alters in quality. It would have been possible, in my estimation, to single out a certain number of leading Nazis and war criminals but I cannot see that we can ever hope to administer successfully a zone in which one in sixty of the population have been screened and removed from their jobs. We speak of wishing to establish democracy in Germany, I am not going to speak to the vexed question of what is, or what is not, a democracy, but I would venture to assert that, before a régime that we regard as a proper, free régime is installed, we must see elevated the rule of law which precedes the establishment of democratic institutions. It is because I believe that we have not been acting upon this principle, the rule of law, but pursuing what seems to be a form of ideological warfare, that I am profoundly disturbed.

I have here two documents from which I propose to quote. I hope I shall retain your Lordships' attention if I quote somewhat extensively from them because it would be no good my putting a case for the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, to answer if I did not give him chapter and verse. The two documents which I have here, with which no doubt the noble Lord is familiar, are Zone Executive Instruction No. 3 (Final), and a previous one dated November, 1946, Zone Executive Instruction No. 54. The first document defines the various categories of people who must come before panels for investigation. First of all it defines war criminals, Nazis and militarists. May I take first the definition of militarists? Any former Regular officer of the German Navy, Army or Air Force, and any other officer, N.C.O. or man of the German Armed Forces … who by reason of his disposition, past activities and professional military knowledge is considered by the Military Governor as likely"— I would like to emphasize that word "likely" to foster or resuscitate the military ambitions of the German nation. Then I would like to draw your Lordships' attention to the various categories of person who must be dealt with under the denazification scheme. There are, first, war criminals. I do not propose to deal with them. Whatever we may think of the definition of war criminals, most of us will agree that the leading Nazis who would fall into that category should, at any rate, be confined if not otherwise punished. But there are other categories to which I should like to draw your Lordships' attention. There are the people in Category 2, who are called "offenders." These appear to fall into two types. One group consists of internees who are considered by the Review and Interrogation Staffs to be of such potential danger as to merit continual internment, and they will be provisionally categorized into Category 2. Before proceeding further I would like to draw your Lordships' attention to some of the sanctions which can be used against persons in that category. They can be interned for a period not exceeding ten years, but subject to periodical review. On termination of internment an individual will be re-categorized into a lower category by the British Review Board. His property may be blocked for a period unspecified and he may be subject to total forfeiture of wealth or to a fine.

Now we are told that, apart from war criminals, the sanctions that apply to persons in Categories 1 to 4 are not to be regarded as punishment for past misdeeds, but as a means of restricting the activities of persons whom Panels consider on all the available evidence to be a danger to the revival of a peaceful and democratic Germany. That is to say, it is not, apparently, a punishment but a prevention. I would like to draw your Lordships' attention to persons also in Category 2. The directive states: Internees who are not considered by Review and Interrogation Staffs to be potentially dangerous, but who because there is evidence to show that they are profiteers come under the provisions of Serial 17 of Category 11, will be provisionally categorized into Category 2. A profiteer, apparently, is a person who, during the Nazi régime, gained or possessed substantial economic resources and used these resources for the advancement or maintenance of the Nazi régime, or any who, being already considered to be potentially dangerous as a result of their previous activities or connexions, possess property or income sufficient to command a position of authority or influence in the social, economic or political life of Germany. Though a man may not be partially deprived of his wealth if he is placed in that category, he is liable to have all his wealth removed.

I say that the word "profiteer" is a question-begging word. It is a piece of political jargon often used at political meetings by one side or the other. It is not a word known to a code of justice. If I may take an example from our own political life, persons in the City, as a result of Dr. Dalton's cheap money policy, have made large profits. They are not persons, many of them, who at any time have adhered to Dr. Dalton's political views, and yet they may be said to have helped to have maintained his policy and indeed to have profited by it. I submit that it is not the proper word to be used to condemn a person to ten year's internment or less or to the total deprivation of his wealth.

Nor is that all. This next zonal instruction, Number 3, is quite final. I hesitate to say whether it is final in the relative sense used by Lord Rennell. It sets out the constitution of the denazification panels to be set up manned by German personnel. It says: In order to achieve maximum truth, fairness and impartiality, the constitution of each panel and committee will be in accordance with the following principles:— I am not going to detain your Lordships by reading the whole of them, but I would especially draw your Lordships' attention to the object which is "to achieve maximum truth, fairness and impartiality."

Then I turn to the Appendix. This is designed to give guidance on the political aspects of zone instructions. In particular, in sub-paragraph 2 it is stated: The first criterion for all members of the Denazification Panel is that they should be confirmed Anti-Nazis; that is to say, they must have, in the past, given evidence of their positive antipathy for the Nazi régime. Only if it proves impossible to find confirmed Anti-Nazis should non-Nazis be allowed on the Panel. To a considerable extent a man's political views will indicate the strength of his opposition to Nazi principles. In industrial regions, German panels and committees must be predominantly but not exclusively, com posed of trade unionists and representatives of the workers' interests; in other regions representation of trade unions must also be provided where possible. It must not be forgotten that Nazis and many of their sympathisers had, as their first object, the destruction of working-class organizations, and it is particularly desirable that these organizations should be given a chance to name their oppressors. It is also important that members of the Left Wing political Parties and religious groups, which were persecuted by the Nazis, should be well represented. That is an instruction for the selection of persons to sit on panels with powers to condemn people to ten years' internment. Are they to be judicial, or is it to be a policy of revenge? It is no bar that they should be called as witnesses. But to act as judges, to have to decide whether a man is a profiteer! I ask you, my Lords, is that promoting the rule of law? And if profiteers are to meet with condemnation from members so appointed and so selected, for fair measure let it be said workers may also be dismissed from their office if they "have made themselves odious to their fellow-men by their past conduct."

Finally, in cases where they recommend a lenient course—that is the German panels—under paragraph 5 of the directive they must "show clearly the positive evidence which causes them to make such a recommendation." In other words they have got to give positive reasons why they should show clemency. If we look at that document in ten years' time it will not read at all well. It is setting up a People's Court, which will not try people by the well-tested rules of justice but try them because of their political sympathies; not by an impartial tribunal, but by people who have already suffered and must have partial and warped minds. I submit that that is in itself a bar to the development of democratic conditions in Germany, and to the economic revival of that country.

In the same document there is a further appendix called "Application of Control Council Directive No. 24 to the farming industry." This says: It is impracticable to denazify all farms in the British Zone without dislocating the production and distribution of food. It is, therefore, intended that denazification should affect only

  1. (a) occupiers of farms with a taxation assessment of 100,000 marks or more;
  2. (b) occupiers of less valuable farms who held the rank of Kreisbauernführer or above;
  3. (c) occupiers of less valuable farms who are notorious Nazis."
Surely these admissions show that the policy is harmful to the economic revival of Germany. If this is true of agriculture, must it not also be true of industry? Can industry really bear the loss of the 370,000 people who have been removed? Is it possible, if we carry out in the way we have carried out the first of the objectives set out by Mr. Bevin, to achieve the other two—the institution of democratic government in Germany and the economic revival of that country?

I am, I confess, gravely moved by what I have read in these documents. In common with many of my generation, I took part in the last war, and I thought I was fighting for the cause of freedom and the rule of law. It is a personal grief to me that I should find in any document bearing the signature of any representative of Britain such an appendix as I have read out, in which Courts are set up to try people for their political offences, manned by persons who must be averse to the people they are trying. I ask the noble Lord to consider this question very carefully. I am sure he has done so. While this lasts and: s a stigma on the fair name of Britain, we shall not get any revival in Germany, and we have no hope of spreading abroad those forms of government which we in this country think are the fairest and best. Until Germany can be set on the road towards, if nor prosperity, at least recovery, there is no hope for the recovery of Western Europe, and I foresee a very dark future both for ourselves and our fellow Europeans.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, I know we are grateful to the right reverend Prelate for giving us a chance to discuss this matter and I would like to express my gratitude on behalf of the Government to all those who have taken part in the debate. They have all, including, I need hardly say, the last speaker, given me a great deal to think about and I will reply to many of the points raised in the course of my remarks, though others may be better discussed in another way with the noble Lords who have raised them. It is high time that we discussed Germany and I hope the House will forgive me if I detain your Lordships for rather a long time. In prolonging my remarks I can-not hold out hope of lightening them by what passes for humour or wit, because that kind of thing is apt to be misunderstood abroad in a debate of this sort. I am afraid that it is rather a long and grim story I have to tell the House. I must ask the House to settle down to it, and if necessary return to it.

I entirely dissent from the view expressed by the right reverend Prelate that things are getting worse in Germany and I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, for coming to my assistance, if I may put it in that way without embarrassing him. The last time I spoke I accused the Opposition of not being very helpful, and it would be churlish indeed and very unfair if I accused the noble Lord of not being helpful this afternoon. In every way, he made a most helpful contribution, and he replied in advance to many of the contentions of the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, who argued them with his usual fertility of resource. The noble Lord penetrated deeply into some but he skated gracefully over others. Be that as it may, it is always a great pleasure to listen to him.

I wish to mention at this stage another point raised by the right reverend Prelate, though I do not intend to answer it properly. He asked whether all was well with the Army in Germany. That is not my present responsibility, though I had the great honour to be Under-Secretary at the War Office till a few months ago. Last Friday I was in Hamburg, where there are a great many troops, and I spoke to our Regional Commissioner, who happens to be a man who knows the German people very well. He told me how very much impressed his German friends were with the behaviour of our troops. I do not say that there are not grave moral dangers into which our men may fall unless we take great precautions, but as this point has been raised and there is no spokesman of the War Office present today, I wish to say at least that much on behalf of the British Army.

The right reverend Prelate raised two fundamental questions in relation to the administration of the British Zone. Have we a moral purpose behind our work? And have we a rational plan to give effect to that purpose? He also raised, as was most proper on an occasion of this kind, the whole question of our diplomatic intentions at the forthcoming Conference of Foreign Ministers and even the period beyond so far as Germany is concerned. I think the House will agree that it is absolutely right for the right reverend Prelate and other speakers to be outspoken on those points, but it would be equally wrong if a Minister, on the eve of a vital Conference, probably the most vital conference held since the war, were anything but extremely cautious. I hope, therefore, that the House will forgive me if I do not add a great deal to what has been said by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, on previous occasions in dealing with the coming Conference.

I am well aware—perhaps no one is better aware than myself—how much this somewhat "cagey" attitude, if I may use the expression, restricts the area of our discussion. No one, indeed, regrets it more than myself, and for this reason: it is, in my firm opinion, beyond the bounds of honest reasoning to defend adequately the British record in Germany—whether you are thinking of the men on the spot or the Government—without stating certain home truths of a diplomatic, or should I rather say, an undiplomatic character. Germany to-day is certainly not in a prosperous, flourishing or happy condition. Let us admit that frankly, while discounting exaggerated tales of horror and recognizing certain gleams of light which are not always observed—even by the eagle, ecclesiastical eye, if I may put it that way, of the right reverend Prelate who, if he will forgive my saying so, speaking in the language of friendly criticism, is up to date with the bad facts but not so up to date with the good. If you ask me why Germany is in that condition, there are two answers which are of a different order of magnitude from any others. Obviously the first answer is the war itself, which Germany, in a collective historical sense at any rate, precipitated quite unprovoked upon the world. When thinking of the damage due to war, I am not thinking only of the destruction and loss of life in Germany, though that has been colossal, but of the world-wide devastation and its consequences. It will have been observed that in the Paris plan for Marshall aid it is reckoned that not even by 1951 will Europe as a whole have recovered its 1938 level of consumption. That is an indication of what the whole world, including Germany, has suffered as a result of the war.

The second factor is the regrettable amount of disagreement between the Allies. No one in this House, I believe, holds His Majesty's Government responsible for those disagreements; but there they are, an indisputable fact of post-war history; and Germany, along with other parts of Europe and the world, has paid a terrible price for them. From the administrator's point of view, of course, they have been a continuing nightmare. On the one hand, there has been uncertainty as to when there would be a peace treaty, and what kind of peace treaty it would be. That has rendered long-distance planning almost out of the question in many fields. On the other hand, the refusal of the Russian Government to allow Germany to be operated as an economic unit has hitherto wrecked the whole conception of how Germany was to be administered after the war. To put it quite bluntly, from factors over which the British Government has had little control our men in Germany have hitherto been set an impossible task. We are determined that, whatever else emerges from the November Conference (and let us hope that much that is good and fruitful will come of it), the task for our men will be possible in future.

One other word about the coming Conference. In certain quarters there is an attitude of complete scepticism about the whole thing. Quite a lot of eminent and well-intentioned people are going about saying that it must be written off in advance. I want to make it abundantly plain that such an attitude in no way represents the spirit in which His Majesty's Government are approaching their task. We may have doubts about the outcome—what sane man could fail to have some doubts, in view of past experience?—but we intend to outdo even our previous exertions in the struggle to achieve success. We have No 1ntention whatever of abandoning our principles—principles, I believe, which are acceptable to the whole nation. We stand for the economic unity of Germany, but it must be a real unity, with a common import-export programme, pooling of resources between all parts of the country and, I need hardly say, freedom of speech and freedom of travel everywhere. I must make it plain that we cannot ignore what has happened since Potsdam, and the cost of it.

If agreement cannot be reached on this basis, no doubt other political and economic expedients will have to be introduced, and rapidly introduced. The present state of things cannot go on indefinitely. If the best way out is denied us by Russian policy a second-best will have to be found. Be that as it may, whatever temporary devices are resorted to—and we all hope they will not be necessary—we shall always come harking back to the unity of the whole of Germany. That door will never be shut, because to shut it would be not only to do Germany an irreparable mischief but to effect a division of Europe which might not be ended in our time.

May I descend from the diplomatic stratosphere and breathe the more familiar air where I have my own being, the administration of Germany? Have we a moral purpose? Have we a plan? I am sure the right reverend Prelate will agree with me that you cannot prove the existence of a moral purpose. You only feel that it is either there or not there. I assure the right reverend Prelate from this place that His Majesty's Government recognize that they are in Germany in the relationship of trustees to the German people. With that statement, however, should go on record two others: first, that in our administration of Germany we recognize our responsibility not only to the German people but to the world, including, of course, those countries which the Nazis ravaged and desecrated—and I believe that France will come first into the minds of most members of the House. Secondly, the House appears to agree with the present trend of British policy, under which the power to govern themselves is increasingly devolved on the Germans. Indeed, there seems a general disposition to move still faster than we are moving in that direction. I can quite understand and sympathize with that, but it does mean that the fate of the Germans, their happiness or unhappiness, rests increasingly in their own hands. Nothing I have said about our moral responsibility for them should weaken the force of the lesson which their own best men join with us in teaching: that it is on their own exertions that their future, for good or evil, must depend.

If anyone asks me, "Is there really this moral earnestness you speak of among the members of the Control Commission staff in Germany?" I reply, "Yes, among a surprisingly high proportion." I say "surprisingly high" in view of the frailties of average human nature, whether in Britain or Germany in the public service or out of it. A number of mean and quite unsubstantiated attacks have been made on our people in Germany. About some of these attacks I do not hesitate to use the words "deliberate lies." Perhaps the lowest depth of all was plumbed by an article which described a typical member of the Control Commission as a "spiv," besides accusing him of a good many other things. That kind of thing does more harm than members of this House—some of whom may at first be inclined to treat it as something of a joke—may suppose. Among other results it makes members of the Control Commission, particularly men with families who are not so very young, wonder whether they will be able to get jobs when they come back home, and whether they can afford to stay in Germany any longer.

On behalf of His Majesty's Government I want to reiterate the high confidence already expressed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and, I may add, by the late Commander-in-Chief, Sir Sholto Douglas, in the integrity and devotion to duty of our men and women in Germany. From my own direct first-hand experience, after thirteen visits to Germany in the last six months, I can assure the House of the widespread seriousness and sense of mission that I have found among these public servants, who are doing with great fidelity an exceptionally difficult job. Until the beginning of this month they were led by that most inspiring and most human chief, Sir Sholto Douglas, who was looked on everywhere with respect and affection. He is certainly the ideal man with whom to go tiger hunting. He would kill all the tigers and give one credit for killing half of them, besides covering up any deficiency of one's own during the actual operations! His departure will be a tremendous loss, and I wish him well wherever he finds an opportunity of serving the country. I do not expect that the country will allow him to languish in idleness for long. He has been succeeded, as the House knows, by his late deputy, Sir Brian Robertson, that remarkable administrator, whose services to the country bid fair to equal those of his ever-distinguished father. I extend to him, on behalf of the Government, and I am sure on behalf of your Lordships' House, the very warmest welcome.

If we have one worry about the staff—it has hardly been raised to-day, although it was raised in previous debates—it is the question of how to offer them more secure prospects than we have hitherto been able to do. Of course, their presence inevitably depends upon the number of men we shall require to do this job in Germany in the years ahead. Up to now it has been very difficult to make a firm plan along those lines. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has asked me to report to him as soon as possible on the whole question of the future functioning of the Control Commission and the number of staff required. It may therefore not be very long before I am in a stronger position than I am to-day to give the House some clearer indication of what is to be expected in that direction.

If the question is pushed further back and if I am asked: "Have you, the Government, or, through the Government, the British people, shown as much evidence of good will towards the Germans during the last two and half years as Christian ethics would require?", I would reply that the Christian standard is perfection, and I am not claiming for a moment that we have achieved that. I do not think that any Bench, even the Benches which are situated on my left, represent perfection of this kind. I am afraid that it is beyond us all. But when the historian of the future studies the privations to which the British people have been subjected as a result of the war, and when he observes that out of their diminished substance they have contributed at least £175,000,000 to feed the Germans and to supply them in other ways, then I cannot help thinking that that same historian will find it difficult to discover a parallel, and that on this matter at any rate, he will say to us: "Well done." And it will be to the eternal credit of the British people, to whichever Party they may or may not belong.

While still dealing with this aspect I turn to the work of our education branch in Germany. They have been guided in recent months by a most eminent and, if I may describe him in that way, a most sophisticated chief, Mr. Birley, who gave up a big position in the scholastic world in this country to see what he could do in Germany. He would be the first to say that he is only one of many, but in his very person he is an example to those who say there is [...] idealism in the Control Commission for Germany. Our education branch have won high praise from the Select Committee on Estimates which recently visited Germany and made such a valuable Report. I would respectfully suggest, if I may, that those members of your Lordships' House who are particularly interested in education should obtain a copy, when it is published, of the evidence which Mr. Birley gave to the Select Committee on Estimates, because there they will find the whole story set out in a fashion which is obviously beyond my compass this afternoon. I will just say that they have done and are doing a remarkable job.

I myself have visited a good many German schools and universities, and made formal speeches at Kiel and Hamburg Universities, and I will say just this about the students. German youth of to-day do not seem to be so down-and-out as some people are inclined to suggest. They are in a very inquisitive state of mind—you might almost say in a state of high intellectual excitement. Our own students who went out to a summer school and spent three weeks with the students of Bonn told me that the Germans—with whom they got on extremely well—revealed an insatiable appetite for discussion. For hour after hour they pegged away at the great themes and all concerned had a very good time. There is No 1ntellectual languor that I have found, but rather the reverse. I would say that the Germans are in a very malleable state, and it is vitally important that while they are in that condition they should be influenced by ourselves and by German guides in the right direction.

Now we come to denazification, because that also raises moral issues. The noble Lord who spoke last will forgive me if I do not follow him too closely through the documents that he quoted to the House. When the debate is over I will refer once more to those documents and I shall be glad to go into the matter with him in much greater detail at any time. Denazification is a horrid, tiresome business at the best, and I suppose there is no Englishman concerned—and perhaps few Germans—who has not wished to Heaven at some moment that the whole thing could be terminated forthwith. We are nearly all agreed—or all who have gone closely into it are agreed, whether we are talking now of Englishmen or Germans—that some such process had to be gone through; some widespread process of that kind had to be employed if Nazism was to be extirpated from the dominant position that it had secured in the life of the people. The real question which interests the House is: When is it all coming to an end?

Let us take first the number of internment camps. The right reverend Prelate will forgive me for not having been attentive enough to be able to offer him detailed information on this subject. He considered together various elements which must be separated; those in internment camps, those going through the process of denazification, and so forth. I will try to explain in a moment the different ways in which those matters are being handled. Let us take first the number in internment camps, something over 19,000 in all. In the first place I would point out that this number has declined, as it is only right that is should, fairly steeply in the last year. In fact, it is just about half of what it was a year ago. The number then was rather over 38,000. It would be a good deal lower now, except that between July and September they received a net inflow from the American Zone of something over 6,000 people, so that when I say it has declined by 50 per cent. in the last year I am not perhaps being quite fair to the authorities in our Zone; they have brought it down faster than that.

Be that as it may, of this 19,000 odd, just over 16,000—that is to say, by far the greater proportion—are awaiting trial by a German court as a result of the Nuremberg judgment Unless we are going to defy the Nuremberg judgment we cannot exonerate these people from trial. The trials are proceeding fairly fast and should be finished by the middle of 1948. I say "should be finished" though it is never well to make promises in these matters. But I am bound to say that they have gone rather faster than we feared would be the case, and it does look as if by the middle of 1948 the trials should be over.

In this connexion I have a piece of news which I am afraid will take a little time to retail but which will bring genuine and proper pleasure to the heart of the right reverend Prelate. I am very glad to be able to announce that it has now been decided to release from civil internment camps on parole all non-commissioned ranks of the S.S. awaiting trial who are not regarded as a potential danger to security or wanted for war crimes or crimes against humanity. A similar concession will be extended at the discretion of the Control Authorities to individual internees of officer rank in the S.S. who were born on or after January 1, 1919. No person will 'be released under this arrangement until the German prosecutors have completed their preliminary investigations into his case in preparation for the trial, but this should not cause any excessive delay. Proper safeguards will be taken and, on release, persons will be required to report to a police station once a month and will be subject to the same restrictions on movement and employment as lesser offenders under the denazification regulations.

I must emphasize that the scheme does not constitute an amnesty for these persons. It is still our firm intention to implement fully the judgment of the International Tribunal at Nuremberg by bringing to trial members of the four criminal organizations, including the S.S. The scheme will mean, however, that of the 16,000 odd persons held in internment awaiting trial, some 7,500 will be given their liberty, under suitable safeguards, until their cases are heard. This should result in an immediate improvement in morale in the civilian internment camps.


Would the noble Lord be good enough to say what he means by "as soon as possible?" I gather that it depends on inquiries which the authorities make, and that may take some time.


The noble Lord can, I am sure, rely on me to see that they do not take a long time.


But what is expected by "as soon as possible"?


I would not care to mention a date, but I think the assurance I have just given should be sufficient for the noble Lord.

I have spoken of the 16,000 who are awaiting trial. Apart from those awaiting trial the other internees number 1,700 who are not yet categorized, recent arrivals; about 200 who are awaiting release; and 900 who are provisionally held as suspects while their cases are being investigated. There remain 535 who are regarded as dangerous Nazis or militarists. I should point out that these 535—the number really is reasonably small—who have been sent to a special settlement at Adelheide with permanent buildings, facilities and a special education officer, would have had their cases originally investigated by Intelligence teams and subsequently have been before a review board with a legal chairman. Out of the last forty-two cases which came up for their regular review, twenty-nine were recommended for release, so that their plight is far from hopeless; and I hope your Lordships will feel that the greatest trouble is being taken about this comparatively small nucleus. I have gone into that matter at considerable length, because I want to disabuse the House and the public of the idea that there are thousands of people who have not been tried and are never going to be tried. Apart from the 900 who are provisionally graded, and those awaiting categorization, it boils down to these 16,000 who are definitely awaiting trial. They will all be tried fairly soon, and half of them will shortly be released on parole.


There is a certain number of war criminals who are going to be tried and a certain number of people who will be confined in internment camps as being potentially dangerous. Is the noble Lord including those in the trials?


It is a very complicated matter. We are not dealing at all in this discussion with war criminals proper. The 16,000 are people who will be tried because they fall into certain categories. In that sense they are war criminals, but they are not being tried for individual war crimes. They are being tried for falling within categories which make them liable under the Nuremberg judgment, assuming them to have had knowledge of the purpose of the organization.


May I suggest that it might make the matter a little more clear to the House if the noble Lord would kindly tell us how many, or about how many, are fixed for trial, or possible trial, by the military courts such as those mentioned in Nuremberg, and how many are to be tried by German courts? It makes a very great difference to their position in the future.


I am not dealing with people being tried by military courts, but with the Germans in internment camps. The others do not come into the discussion.


But it would make the matter clear if we were told the number of people who are going to be dealt with by military courts. They amount to a certain number which the noble Lord may be able to tell us, because there are still people in imprisonment in Germany. We want to know what the real set-up is with regard to the whole country.


I was dealing with denazification and I should have strayed a long way from that if I had got on to the subject of war crimes. I shall be delighted to let the noble Lord have the information for which he asks. What the noble Lord is discussing is something quite different, but of course it is something of sufficient intrinsic value to be discussed. But the point is that these 16,000 will be tried by German courts under the Nuremberg judgment, because they fall within certain categories, as having knowledge of the nature of the organization. The 535, however, are people who will not be tried but who are simply held because they are judged to be dangerous characters. They will be held until we are satisfied that they can be safely released.


They are, in fact, "18Bs."


I am a very poor linguist, and I am not sure how we could put that into German, but it would be a very close analogy, as I understand it.


With regard to these people who come before the German denazification panel, has that tribunal to find the fact, without a discretion as to whether or not the persons had knowledge; or has it a discretion to say who ought and who ought not to stay in prison, and who ought or ought not to come out?


No. The court has to discover that the persons in fact occupied certain positions and that they knew the nature of the organization. Though I am no lawyer, I think one could have guilty knowledge of the nature of the organization.


Are those the same as panels?


They are not the same as the panels which denazify people. They are special German courts; they would not be the same as panels. I am bound to say that it is an infernally difficult subject. I apologize for not making it more radically plain.

I am afraid that the right reverend Prelate has, in one case only, allowed himself to be unduly optimistic. I hate to discourage any tendency of that kind on his part, and I hope he will forgive an impertinence on my part if I say that he has a weakness which lies the other way. It is not the case that denazification in the broad sense, even leaving out those people in the camps, will come to an end by the end of the year. In the narrower sense it will have come to an end by the end of the year, in that all dismissals from employment will have taken place. But there is a process called categorization, which owing to quadripartite disagreement only got under way in March of this year. Categorization also has been handed over to the Germans, but that only began in March; we cannot expect to finish that straight away or in six weeks' time—by the end of the year.

While I would point out that, under categorization, sanctions such as confiscation and apportionment of goods can still be applied, I hope that they will not be applied too rigorously. Categorization, as I see it, is to improve a man's position and rehabilitate him rather than pull him down, because when he has been denazified and when he has been put into a category you cannot leave him there unless he is in one of the best categories. Obviously there is delay while he makes his way back to normality. Therefore, that particular process cannot come to an end at once, because we assume that it will take a little time for these men to work their way back. While there are certain penalties which can be exercised under categorization, the main purpose will be, as I see it, the recovery from this position of restriction to one of freedom, provided always that the panels are satisfied that a man really has improved in his attitude.


Forgive my interrupting. While the process of categorization is going on, where a man is perhaps taken from a lower category and put into a higher category and so on, is he all the time interned?


No, not at all. I am afraid I am going too fast. These people have nothing to do with the internees at all. The internment people are simply the 19,000 people of whom 16,000 are awaiting trial. They do not come into this at all. Here we are talking of the 300,000 odd—I believe that is the correct figure—who have been removed from employment and who will have gradually to pass through this categorization.


To continue my question: In that case, if they are not interned and they are denied employment, how do they live?


They are not denied all employment; they are denied responsible employment. The figure is 340,000, not 300,000. They are gradually going to work through this process of categorization. I have met them in Germany on farms and in various other capacities. They are not allowed responsible positions. Surely the House is not saying that they should to-day have responsible positions? Your Lordships may say that people ought to be brought back more quickly or you may have views about delays, but you are surely not going to say. that in the case of important positions like those of teachers in universities, these should be held by men who were really active in the Nazi days. I do not think your Lordships would argue that. That being so, something of this kind has clearly to go on in order to give the men a chance of making good. The only other point I would stress in this connexion is the fact that this denazification and categorization has now been handed over to the Germans. It is up to them to say how long it will take and how severe it has to be. It is not, therefore, anything in the nature of an infliction by us upon the Germans; it is placed in their hands, and it is up to them to say how they will use it.


Does that handing over to the Germans mean that the German decision is final, or does it have to be approved by some British authority?


I am not absolutely sure of that point but, for all practical purposes, the German decision will be final. I am not sure whether there is any exception.


Perhaps in time the noble Lord may be able to answer that question.


I have a document dealing with the matter. Under Category 2, there are certain sanctions which might be applied. This applies to profiteers, as I mentioned. One sanction is to intern them for a period. The question is: Can that sanction of internment be applied by a denazification panel or is it as the result of a trial by a court?


The internment would be as a result of trial by court, but what we are now talking of, denazification and categorization, would be as the result of decisions taken by German panels. I confirm that my impression was correct; that the decision of the Germans will be final, except that in extreme cases we can intervene. Any German decision will be final, leaving us the safeguard of intervention in extreme cases—if we thought, for instance, that they were going in for witch-hunting or anything of that kind. I hope we have had enough of this complicated subject. Of course, I entirely sympathize with those who say that we move forward too slowly. Let us push it forward now and let us get through the whole business as fast as is humanly possible.

Now we come to the subject of dismantling. Our objects in dismantling Germany are quite different from what is sometimes alleged. It is quite untrue to say that our objects are the punishment of Germany or the destruction of a business competitor. Our objects, so far from being that, are security and a measure of reparation. Here I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, put his finger plumb on the spot. We have already had it said by the right reverend Prelate that war plants ought to go. I should emphasize that, out of the 682 on the list, 302 are war plants. If war plants are to go, the cardinal question is the one posed by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye: Should reparations be taken or should they not? That is a serious moral issue whose gravity I do not wish to minimize. I must say that, while it would be quite wrong to try to saddle any German whatever at the present time with the view that the dismantling programme is right, it is equally true that I find widespread recognition, to which public expression has been given on many occasions by the leaders in Germany, that some kind of reparations are theoretically justifiable. That is the general view amongst leading Germans, and I am sure it is the view of most people who think about it in this country. But once you reach that conclusion you come, of course, to the question of the amount of reparations that are to be taken. Out of the 50,000 plants in the two zones the number to be taken has been reduced from 1,636 to 682 plants. Here I am bound to say that I felt the right reverend Prelate was unsure of his facts. He gave the impression that the whole thing was over; that there had been some trouble some time last year, and that suddenly there comes along an order which starts the whole thing off again. Of course, he and the House must know that that is utterly remote from what has actually occurred.

There has been steady discussion ever since the war as to how much should be taken, and the final figure is far less than any one supposed it would be. If the right reverend Prelate was under a misapprehension in that respect perhaps he will set it right when he replies. No firm figure has been worked out for the amount that we and the other Allies will receive—and it has to be remembered that we in Britain will receive only about 21 per cent. of the total—or what the total damage to the German economy will be. An outside figure which has been given, and which we can regard as a good deal greater than reality, is a total loss to Germany of £250,000,000, direct and indirect. When we compare that figure with the kind of figures that were discussed after the last war—figures that were to go on for years and years—we must see that this is very small, and one that perhaps two years ago few people would have been ready to entertain.


The £250,000,000 is not the total; is it from our Zone or from the British and American Zones?


It is from the Anglo-American Zone. It is an outside figure and, therefore, I can give it in a straight-forward form, because I think it is so far outside that it covers everything.


It does not include the Soviet Zone?


No; it is the Anglo-American Zone. I think the point is understood by the House, but may I repeat here, especially for the benefit of those who may be following my words in Germany, that apart from a few prohibited industries still under discussion, this really is the end of the reparation claims on the capital equipment of the British Zone? Moreover, the British Government have repeatedly declared their objection to current reparations, which, during the next few years, could only be paid by Germany out of the pockets of the British and American tax-payers. My right honourable friend made it plain in another place that if any current reparations ever came to be paid out of our Zone—and I hope they will not—they could not be paid out of the level of industry which we are discussing to-day.

My Lords, there is the outline of the case. Reparations are to be taken, and the bill which is presented is far less than anyone would have thought likely two years ago, or even quite recently. The question of method may arise. No one will seriously suggest that reparations can be taken out of current production during the next few years, while Germany is being assisted from outside, and so I will deal simply with the practical issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell. Assuming that it is morally right to do this, is it prudent to do it? That is as I understand it, what was in the mind of the noble Lord. Here are one or two facts which have not been stated at length to-day, though they are firmly in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and, indeed, he referred to them in general terms.

At the present time Germany is able to produce in the two Western Zones only about 42 per cent. of what she produced in 1936. Under the proposed plan she will be allowed to go up to 100 per cent., which is much more than double. The House will mark the significance of that, and of this also; after very careful investigations—one noble Lord asked me whether the investigations had been careful, and all I would say is that if anything they have been over-careful; they have been very prolonged, and a great deal of hard work has been done by many people—it has been calculated that even if Germany were not to be asked to pay any reparations, she would not be able by 1951 to get back to her 1936 level, which is now to be permitted her. Globally, therefore (and I am using that word advisedly), the plant which is being taken away from Germany is plant which she would not be able to use herself in the few years immediately ahead, and which can be of great service to build up other countries. Of course, the global picture is not the whole picture; it never is. Of course, a number of individual plants which are now being partially operated will find themselves dismantled, and a very efficient concentration of industry, as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, indicated, will have to be effected if the results which have been worked out, as I have indicated, on paper are to be achieved in practice, without causing unemployment or local suffering. The House will be glad to know that in all that pertains to the execution of the plan the German authorities are showing themselves co-operative, and joint Anglo-German Committees are now at work in all the regions. I am sure we were right in not saddling these German democratic leaders, who are trying to win their spurs and deserve every encouragement, with the responsibility for the plan itself. Once it was issued, however, we requested their co-operation in making it as humane and as efficient as possible; and German politicians and, may I add with emphasis, the German trade union leaders, are showing themselves wise and reasonable in making the best of the inevitable.

I dare say that some noble Lords read rather exaggerated accounts in the Press of a visit I paid to Dusseldorf. I will not say anything about that to-day. I think the impression which got about was that I got "the bird." I would not say I got "the bird," though once or twice I heard the beating of her wings in a perfectly friendly and democratic way. On the whole, however, a good time was had by all, and I think everybody understood everybody else much better afterwards. I would certainly emphasize, however, in case there is any misunderstanding, that there was no disrespect to a British Minister as such, and that there was no intention to be obstreperous. Their conduct was, in my opinion, perfectly proper and understandable in the circumstances.

I will just add two further points at this stage. First, we have declared our willingness—showing the spirit of flexibility for which the noble Lord pleaded—to study German proposals for modifications of the list in respect of individual plants, so long as total capacity is unaffected. Secondly, we have suspended until after the November Conference—and I hope altogether—all destruction of buildings except those, such as gun sites, which can be used for purely military purposes. It is extraordinary that no one seems to know about this. They did not know about it in Germany when I went to Essen just over a fortnight ago, although it was in the papers in Germany; and here we have the well-informed right reverend Prelate completely devoid of information regarding this subject. We have, in fact, suspended the destruction of buildings until after the November Conference, except where they can be used for purely military purposes.


Since when has it been suspended?


I am asked, since when was this suspended? It was announced at the same time as the main announcement was made by General Robertson, who gave various Press interviews and certainly broadcast this information to Germany on at least one occasion. But it is most extraordinary that neither in Germany nor over here do the public generally seem to have learnt of this most valuable concession, which should undoubtedly make a great difference to the peace of mind of many people.

May I sum up, at the risk of repetition, the case for dismantling, and explain why the Government are irrevocably committed to their present programme? First, its objects are security and reparations which, in principle, most people accept. Secondly, the amount involved is far less than any of the sums discussed after the last war, and far less than anyone would have expected this time. Thirdly, the only way in which Germany can make a net payment to the outer world during the next few years is by the rendition of capital plant, which is what, in fact, is being taken under dismantling. Fourthly, Germany would not, in any case, be able to use the plant involved during the next few years, if we are thinking in global aggregates. Fifthly, we are doing everything possible, in co-operation with the Germans, to make sure that local hardships and unemployment do not result. Sixthly, the plan in no way conflicts with our recovery programme for Germany, under which it is hoped that her production will be built up during the next few years in the bizonal area from 42 per cent. of the 1936 level to 100 per cent. of that level. I have attempted to sum up the matter under those six headings, and I can assure the House that, as has been suggested, we desire to make it clear that we are going to push on, right to the end. We echo the right reverend Prelate's sentiments, and we intend to carry this through to a proper conclusion.

I have said enough, I suppose, about what might be called the negative part of our plan for Germany, though, be it observed, it is a very essential part in regard to the recovery of Europe. May I now come to the positive problems which are confronting our administration? The right reverend Prelate will understand that, owing to the diplomatic difficulties which I have mentioned, it has been difficult to draw up a comprehensive plan running over a period of years, but if he will look at the targets for the German economy which were presented in the summer to the Paris Committee on European Economic Co-operation, and which are now accessible to the public, he will see that there has been a great deal of what might be called "long-term thinking" done by our people and by others in relation to the future of German industry.

Perhaps the right reverend Prelate will allow me—and I must apologize for detaining the House so long—to deal with four topics in particular, which are certainly integral factors in any plan. Of course, many people will judge the difficulties in Germany by the cost to us, and it is true that this has been a very considerable drain. But one really ought to go behind that and look at the figures of imports and exports. There, I quite agree, improvement has been much slower than we could have wished, but there has been improvement, and it is quite wrong to say that things have been getting worse. We shall not achieve our export targets next year, but exports are now running twice as high as at the beginning of the year, in spite of the crisis in the early spring. Therefore, although we have to get exports up to about nine times their present level before Germany becomes self-supporting, I hope the right reverend Prelate will agree that there has been progress—true, it has been slow progress, but still progress—on the export front. Apart from the matter of export figure—I will not detain the House with them, but we have worked at this very hard—many other not unimportant steps have been taken; we are, for example, enabling German business men to travel abroad.

But behind all the export figures there remains the question of production. Germany cannot export very much at the present time because she is not producing very much. If I might, I would suggest one set of figures in this connexion, and upon this set of figures perhaps more than any other set the House may care to keep an eye in the future. I would point to the production index. There is no great success reflected there, but still the figures are moving, though moving very slowly, in the way we should wish to see them go. A year ago the production index stood at 35. Owing to the winter crisis, during which the economic life of Germany was at one time almost completely stopped, the figure had sunk to 26. I should explain that these are percentages of the 1936 statistics. In February, the figure was 26. To-day it stands at 37, which is slightly higher than it was a year ago. That is for the British Zone. For the two Zones it row stands at 42. If anyone asks me why the figure is still so low—only a little higher than it was a year ago—I answer that whether we do get this figure higher or not depends upon the progress that we make under four crucial headings, all inextricably linked—currency, coal, food, and administration.

First of all, as to currency. Everyone who has been to Germany is horrified by the currency situation—I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, was—and it certainly is very distressing. The absence of any external value for the mark necessitates some kind of restriction—various kinds of restriction, in fact—on the export trade. Internally, I think, the consequences are worse. The absence of a stable internal currency, together with the shortage of consumer goods, are, I believe, the main causes of the black market and all the evil consequences that stem from it. Until we have a proper currency, we shall never establish any normal incentives of a kind calculated to stimulate the producer to go flat out or to sell his product (and here I am thinking particularly of the farmer) through legitimate channels, so that it can be fairly rationed and distributed. The House is probably aware that there has hitherto been a quadripartite deadlock on this subject. To-day I will only say that I shall be mortified if I am permitted to stand here in a few months time and am unable to report that we have got a real move on in this absolutely vital field.

Secondly, there is coal. The coal news is real balm in Gilead, though, as so often happens, there is a fly in the ointment; this time it is the problem of getting it away from the pithead—the problem of transport. But, be that as it may, let us salute good news from Germany when it comes, and coal production in the last month has, at last, moved forward really fast. A year ago the production was 180,000 tons a week. At the beginning of October, after various vicissitudes, food shortages operating on one side, and new incentives and increased numbers of miners on the other, it was round about 240,000 tons. On Monday last (I was hoping to have yesterday's figure but it has not yet come to hand) the figure touched 279,000 tons. That is another 6,000 tons on the figure in the possession of the noble Lord. I cannot help saying respectfully, to those who never see any improvement in anything in Germany: "Laugh that off if you can."

We have a long way to go before we reach the 350,000 tons which might reasonably be expected from the mines in their present state of equipment, and I ought to warn the House that the present set of incentives—special parcels of food and clothing—will have achieved their immediate purpose when the production reaches 280,000 tons, so things may become a bit stickier after that. This is the figure for yesterday which has just been handed to me—279,892 tons, which is still in the right direction. I am sure that the House will wish to approve the good work of all concerned, whether British or German. It is particularly gratifying that the North German Goal Control, who have been in charge of the mines up to now, should have seen this reward for their labours just before handing over their executive responsibility to the Germans, while supervision will be maintained by a joint Anglo-American body.

There was a certain amount of ill-informed criticism of the coal people in Germany, but the Anglo-American expert talks on the coal industry, held in Washington this summer, not only resulted in some extremely concrete plans for improving production but also indirectly vindicated the performance of our own British coal authority—which was, indeed, only its due. Fuel has been such a tremendous industrial bottleneck since the end of the war in Germany that improvement in coal production is bound to have a good effect on the general industrial index; how quickly and sharply I will not venture to prophesy. There is another reason why coal production is going much better at the moment than production in most other industries in Germany. While the German miners, and more especially their families, do not receive as much food as one would like them to have, they get a good deal more than other workers, and it makes all the difference to them and makes for better output. That brings me to my third heading—food. I am afraid that for a long time to come food will run through every discussion about Germany. What can I say about food in Germany to-day? Is it better than a year ago? No; it is just about the same. Is it better than it was in the spring, when I myself first went out there? Yes, a great deal better; there has been a steady improvement since that time. The House, I am sure, will understand that I am not trying to make any personal claim or to detract from the great work of my predecessor, to which I have not hitherto had a chance of referring, and which will shine out much more brilliantly as the years bring all these matters into perspective. When I first went out, the food crisis was extremely acute and in the period from April to May the normal consumer received only 900 calories. In the most recent period he received 1,400, or rather more than half as much again. The latest figures have shown a fractional decline below that, but I think we may fairly say that food is at the moment 50 per cent. better for the normal consumer than it was in late spring and early summer.

How does the German standard of food consumption compare with our own? It is difficult to say, because in the case of Germany one has to include not only supplements received by heavy workers but what is obtained in the black market, and the supplies coming from gardens and parcels. There is also the fact that a larger proportion of the German population live on farms. Without desiring to be dogmatic, I would say that the average German is eating three-fourths as much as the average Englishman—less rather than more. It might be argued that this is a serious underestimation of the relative amount of hardship and distress suffered in Germany. In the first place the German standard of living crept up to the present figures only after the food crisis in the spring and summer, which created great uncertainty about the future. In the second place, while we think our present fare in England is monotonous, the German food is even more so, consisting of 85 per cent. bread and potatoes and a fat allowance only one quarter of our own. In the third place the black market and other supplements do nothing to mitigate the lot of the poorest classes, especially the old, and over the year as a whole I would estimate that the poorest classes had half as much food as their opposite numbers in this country.

Your Lordships may attach what importance you wish to these estimates, but they have been arrived at after a great deal of thought and trouble on my part. There is the food situation. Everything in Germany comes back to it, and I can honestly say that it is never out of the thoughts of the Administration. The real trouble is that Germany, which at the moment lacks many of the old supplies from the East, has to feed in the Western Zone 8,000,000 more people than before the war. The supplies of fertilizer have been very short, as everywhere else, although Germany is now hoping to get 80 to 90 per cent. of her requirements. And, as we all know, there is a worldwide food shortage. We on our side are doing everything we can. Between 1st July and the end of December 1,900,000 tons of grain products will have arrived in the combined zones, compared with 800,000 tons, or less than half, last year. Controlled grain and flour stocks are the highest since the end of the war and at present are equal to nine weeks' supply. I only wish that the position in regard to some other foodstuffs was equally good. I am afraid that I must decline to give any assurances as to the future. I would just say this, without making a promise of any kind. Provided that domestic supplies are collected at the same rate as last year, imports should be sufficient to maintain the present ration level up to the middle of April, 1948. It is the over-whelming duty of all concerned—British, Americans and everybody else—to see that last year's breakdown is not repeated.

Finally, I come to administration, and here a great many pertinent things have been said to which I would like to reply, but time is running out, and in any case I am not sure that it would be wise today to go very far ahead. Putting it quite crudely, and ignoring all the diplomatic troubles which have added to our difficulties in so many ways, we in the British Administration have been passing through a transitional phase this year, and while we have made considerable progress in preparing the way for the next stage, we are suffering the worst of both worlds. In saying that, I am not thinking of the joint bizonal arrangements with the Americans, with whom our relations have been altogether pleasant and from whom I personally have received every form of courtesy. What I have in mind (and this has come out in the speeches of more than one noble Lord, including Lord Rennell) is the handing over of many of our responsibilities to the Germans, with ourselves retaining a supervisory role. In food supervision, for instance, can we honestly say that the Germans are running the food distribution under our supervision as efficiently as we ran it ourselves? The answer is most certainly, "No." To be fair to the Germans, however, it cannot be said that conditions have enabled them to exercise a proper degree of authority among their own population.

If you talk to a German farmer—and I have talked to quite a few of them—and try to make up your mind as to why the German farmer is not delivering his entire product like the British farmer, and if you ask why the police are not protecting the German farmer against those who raid his vegetables, as they protect the British farmer, you would come to the ultimate conclusion that in the present Government structure there is a vacuum, an absence of authority, not on paper, but in fact. These are penalties of a transition; they are penalties which have to be paid; the stage had to be gone through. But, without in any way committing ourselves to any particular proposals such as have been urged with so much talent and ingenuity this afternoon, I quite agree with all those who argue that the sooner the present obscurities are cleared up the better for everyone. I also quite agree that there is no time whatever to be lost.

I have detained your Lordships an unconscionable time, but the subject is a vast one, involving as it does 23,000,000 of our fellow human beings in the British Zone alone, whom we hold—never forget—at our mercy, and for whom one day we shall be called to account. I seem to remember that the father of the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, once divided European leaders into "the rhapsodists who inflame and embolden, and the plain homely realists who know how to heal." Germany has been tortured and betrayed by the former kind—the rhapsodical maniacs. But I find in Germany to-day, on all levels—in the political Parties, in the Land governments, in the trade unions, in the universities and elsewhere among humbler people—many people coming forward, or going about their business, who are deeply conscious of their sad heritage, and who are deeply resolved to set things right, to wipe clean the slate and enable Germany to make a worthy contribution to Europe. The British people, I believe, are looking for more than one kind of quality in the administrators in Germany., We are seeking among them inflexible determination, unflagging industry, and, above all, surely, a spirit of healing and reconciliation. I believe also that those who have been closest in touch with German affairs will be the first to acknowledge that these are in fact the standards by which our men are endeavouring to govern their lives and to represent our country out there.

6.2 p.m.


My Lords, I will not spend more than a minute or two, but I should like to thank the noble Lord for the great trouble which he has taken in answering this debate, and for the valuable information which he has given. I should also like to thank the other noble Lords who have spoken for their most valuable contributions. I agree that this is not at all a Party matter. I also agree that we want a balanced judgment. While I do not accept all the darts which have been hurled at me from below, I realize that my eagle, ecclesiastical eye was concerned to bring out things that are sometimes forgotten and which do not emerge into the light of day. I think, after all, that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and even an imperfect Bench may sometimes have a slight regard to vigilance. I think the temporal Peers, if I may so describe them, showed an uncommonly satisfactory vigilance in the matter of denazification. I think the noble Lord who replied can hardly have felt entirely satisfied with the unravelling of the skein of the extremely complicated process which is sometimes called denazification, sometimes categorization, sometimes civilian internment, and I think there must be other names as well. I am sure the quotations which the noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, made from the Zonal Order shocked the House, because they did show an extraordinary attitude to law and to justice, let alone to freedom.

I would only add, with regard to the dismantling question, that of course I realize that this question has been brewing for a very long time. Where I would argue that the situation has got worse in Germany is not so much on the basis of statistics, which the noble Lord provided, but in confidence. Rightly or wrongly, there is no doubt that confidence has decreased. Could anything be better calculated to reduce confidence than the announcement of the dismantlement plan—which may be, and certainly is, less severe than it would have been if it had been produced a year ago—on; the very verge of what is certain to be an extremely hard winter? It is in the psychological field that the situation has grown worse.

There is just one point about the matter to which the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, referred of political unity. I do not plead guilty to a purely academic or fanciful picture of what might be. It does seem to me that before the Powers generally can decide on whether or no Germany shall be politically united they will want to understand the form of political unity. It is on the character of political unity that people's attention is fixed, and the November Conference is, in particular, charged to work out the nature and scope of a provisional political régime for the unification of Germany. Everything really does depend on the form. I am sure we are also particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, for the energy with which he resisted a sceptical view of the coming November Conference. It was very heartening to hear that. Here—and really this is my usual rô 1e, though I am afraid the noble Lord does not always see me in it—I am an optimist. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.