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The End of Postwar History? (October 18, 1963)

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Therefore, we must address pressure groups in the widest sense. To be sure, they structure society and thus prevent individuals from becoming an easily manipulated mass. But, on the other hand, these organizations can also lead to the growing political disenfranchisement of the people. It’s understandable that groups grow out of the need for individuals to overcome feelings of individual powerlessness through solidaristic action and to thus become politically empowered. But it also cannot be denied that the apparatus created in the process is constantly tempted to control the people it represents.

[ . . . ]

The new federal government takes office at a phase in world politics when changes in East-West relations are becoming apparent. This August, years of discussion on questions of disarmament led, for the first time, to an agreement between the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union on a partial ban on nuclear weapons testing. The federal government signed this agreement after the necessary political clarifications were obtained and will submit the required ratifying law to the High House* shortly. In doing so, however, the federal government, in agreement with its allies, does not indulge in the false hope that this agreement will decisively change the global political situation. The threat remains, and the repression of freedom continues, including on German soil.

The “German question” has not been resolved, and the free part of Berlin continues to suffer from being unnaturally cut off from the other part of the city and from German territories with which it had grown extremely close throughout the course of a long shared history. Nevertheless, the federal government believes that contact and conversations between the United States and the Soviet Union can be useful and that they should be continued with the goal of examining whether there are ways to relieve some of the tension.

[ . . . ]

* Reference to the lower house of the parliament. – eds.

Source: “Große Regierungserklärung des Bundeskanzlers Erhard am 18. Oktober 1963” [“Grand Policy Statement by Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, October 18, 1963”], German Bundestag, Stenographische Berichte [Stenographic Reports] 4/90, p. 4192A ff.

Translation: Allison Brown

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