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Perspectives of West German publications on Adenauer’s diplomacy 1949-50 Knuth, Jens


In 1949 the newly created Federal Republic of Germany lacked freedom of action. The country was under Western Allied occupation, its new Government under supervision by the Allied High Commission. After coming to office in September 1949, chancellor Konrad Adenauer was determined to achieve West Germany's firm anchoring in the Western community, sovereignty, political, economic, and military security, and Western European integration. However, his later success should not obscure the fact that his policy was risky. In 1949-50 his course was complicated by the Saar issue, sparse Allied granting of sovereign rights, the rearmament question, and the problem of German unity. Meanwhile, the Opposition social Democrats under Kurt Schumacher criticized the concessions to the Allies and, as western integration assumed a quicker pace, stressed the primacy of German unity. Even members of the Bonn Cabinet started to doubt a policy that seemed likely to solidify German division. The West German press mirrored and judged the domestic fight over foreign policy. Four of the five leading publicists examined in this study tended to support economic and political integration in Western Europe, while not prepared to cede to French interests and to renounce German claims on the Saar, they did support the Petersberg Agreement on dismantling, accession to the Council of Europe, and involvement in the Schuman Plan negotiations. The issue of German unity played a limited role in their editorials. Two pundits, Paul Sethe and Hans Baumgarten, never mentioned it, while two others, Richard Tungel and Ernst Friedlaender, believed that western integration offered perspectives to regain East Germany in the future. Moreover, Schumacher's opposition found little positive echo. Only Rudolf Augstein and Sethe at times backed similar policies to that of the SPD. Although the broad tenets of Adenauer's course were accepted, there was consistent criticism of his diplomatic methods, in fact, in the spring of 1950 three commentators called on the Chancellor to surrender diplomatic affairs to someone else. Amongst the editorialists examined, only Augstein advocated a neutralist policy, hoping it would facilitate German unification. However, he did not sufficiently discuss the great risks associated with German neutrality. Augstein was also the only commentator to oppose West German rearmament categorically. Although none of the commentators supported outright rearmament, the pundits backed a para-military federal police against the perceived East German threat. The question of direct remilitarization was ignored or made dependent on Allied concessions.

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