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The Spiegel Affair and the Strengths and Weaknesses of German Democracy (November 12, 1962)

The editor-in-chief of the conservative tabloid BILD-Zeitung joins in the nearly unanimous press condemnation of the investigation of Der Spiegel but stresses the strengths of West German democracy.

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Dear BILD-readers!

The federal government has disgraced itself. It is a disgrace for the weakest and worst cabinet we've had since 1949.

– The justice minister has failed.
– The defense minister has concealed the whole truth.
– Under pressure from the FDP, the chancellor axed two deserving undersecretaries in an “emergency culling.” People were too late in heeding the Bavarian SPD parliamentary representatives who said: "Drop your pants, even if they're dirty."

In parliament, the opposition struck hard and kept asking questions until the truth came to light. In the German Bundestag, they nearly bashed each other’s heads in, and the intellectuals, who had already declared freedom of the press dead two weeks ago, are now mourning democracy. Among them, who are so quick to see the negative side of things, the evil word was spoken: "It's like in Weimar."

But what came after Weimar? Hitler!
Do we want that again? No!
And therefore BILD is appealing to politicians: Restrain yourselves! Come back to your senses!
We need freedom, but we also need the state.
Do not destroy the citizens' delicately and slowly growing trust.
Even if German cabinet ministers were to behave even more foolishly and more simple-mindedly than they have over the last few days:

– Our domestic liberty is not in danger.
– The Federal Court and the Federal Constitutional Court deserve our confidence. They are staffed with independent judges appointed for life, judges who don't go around arresting people for the fun of it or to do somebody a favor. No matter how many phone calls Mr. Strauss makes to Spain, even he can't incarcerate anyone without a court-ordered arrest warrant.
– Our Basic Law is exemplary. There are no strongmen threatening our personal liberty, and the alleged strong man has just offered up a weak performance.
– Our parliament has just demonstrated – even if the noble composure thing doesn’t always work yet – that it is capable of tracking down scandals even without the Spiegel.
– And the press has shown that it is free and will remain so.

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