And if someone else comes and asks about Germany, they’ll be admonished with an index finger to the lips: Shush! Not so loud, it could disturb the neighbors. They don’t like to hear that. And besides, since Willy Brandt, “Germany” is one of those great words that is less great than small steps.*
It was, as one hears in the election campaign, Union-led governments in the past that neglected to make an arrangement with the “GDR” for twenty years, so now the left-wing coalition has to make up for all the lost ground. Of course, it is hard to make up for two decades of big words with no action, but people know how to make things easier.
Franz Josef Strauss had hardly finished saying that we could have had that kind of treaty twenty years ago when the Frankfurter Rundschau “realized” that Konrad Adenauer was to blame for the fact that the people in this divided Germany could not meet. Wasn’t it the SED state that drew the borders? And wasn’t it the SPD that used sharp, incisive words to rebuff Ulbricht’s siren call: “Germans to the negotiating table.” Back then, Germany still counted and one of its politicians in the free part said:
“In West Germany, the national Bolshevists . . . are going further than many would like to believe, while unprincipled Rapallo** ideas have made their way up to high echelons within the government parties. They are supported by business interests, which people on the East side know how to cleverly exploit. But the real danger in this circle comes from the ‘coordinators,’ the successors to the failed ‘bridge builders.’ They explain that the Eastern government should not be ignored; it is the present reality. Somehow there has to be a way to get along, they say, since, after all, the people on the other side are also Germans, so practical agreements should be made with them. These arguments are supported by the lack of thought from those who want to have their oh-so-deceptive Western peace and quiet, and who, within a portion of the media, act as if there were two German governments working together to do what they can for the mutual good.”
Who said these words, for which those of us today on the free side of the unutterable country would be accused of being anti-rapprochement? It was Willy Brandt. The former one.
And the government party he suspected of wanting its Western peace and quiet was the Union. That’s how times change, and our political prophets change along with them. And with the times, Germany is unfortunately also changing beyond recognition. Now we have an “FRG.” Well isn’t that fitting.
* This refers to Willy Brandt’s “policy of small steps” with respect to the East – trans.
** The Treaty of Rapallo was an agreement of April 16, 1922, between Weimar Germany and Bolshevist Russia, reestablishing diplomatic relations – trans.
Source: Matthias Walden, “Statt Deutschland nur noch ‘BRD’?” [“Instead of Germany, Now Just ‘FRG’”?], Die Welt, November 16, 1972.
Translation: Allison Brown