March 31, 1968
Mr. Wilkins is an Alicia Patterson Fund award winner on leave from The Tacoma News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington. This article may be published, with credit to Mr. Wilkins The Tacoma News Tribune, and the Alicia Patterson Fund.
Question: Herr Wilkins, now that you’ve been here in West Germany almost a year, what are your impressions?
Answer: Well, now, you see . . . What I’m trying to say is that I have numerous impressions, many of them contradicting one another. Many of you Germans would agree with me about some of the contradictions, but — and here is the first contradiction — many would not. Naturally.
Question: Where have you been most recently?
Answer: In Darmstadt, visiting German friends. In Hamburg, listening to the left and right. And in the Stuttgartarea of Paden-Wűrttemberg, whose state elections will be held April 28 and may give a New Hampshire-type preview of some of the 1969 federal election trends. I hope I’m not straining comparisons too much, but one of the minor parties has a candidate with some of Eugene McCarthy’s appeal to students, while the other minor party in some ways has a Joseph McCarthy hue. These two “McCarthyisms” hold the balance of power; the amount of strength they show in this state election will help define the paths the two major parties will take in the federal election. You are following me, aren’t you?
Question: Up to a point. I’m not quite clear about this McCarthy business. Why don’t you just address yourself to Americans? Tell the folks back home about Germany. You know, the new Germany. We Germans aren’t understood very —
DARMSTADT — In Darmstadt lives a pretty, blond Fraűlein named Pia. She is four years old and wild about Frau a raccoon she has never seen that lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Pia’s mother, Frau Hauptmann, is in her early thirties. She wants to know about racial prejudice in The States. And with near-desperation she wants to understand how certain things could have happened in Germany — things that mean there are now so few Jews in the nation that she has known only two or three in her entire life. Her eyes accuse.
Pia’s father, Herr Hauptmann, is 41. As a young German soldier he was imprisoned by his own forces for lack of zeal in rounding up members of the French resistance. He is an architect of repute. He has some very positive views of The States compared with Germany, also some negative ones.
Reinie and I were their guests recently. Reinie is 48, two years older than myself, a German with whom I have resumed a friendship after 33 years. He was a World War II Luftwaffe pilot who spent four years in Canada as a prisoner of war and zealous, recurrent escapee (JMW-2).
That evening at the Hauptmanns, Pia questioned me about the raccoon. Herr Hauptmann questioned me about Vietnam and some other American things. Frau Hauptmann unrelentingly questioned Reinie about the Nazi period and asked my opinion of Germany — of Reinie’s generation in particular.
It was quite an evening.
We sometimes pursued, sometimes merely reflected, themes that are part of the story of West Germany today.
The themes might be called “The Wondrous Raccoon,” “Oh Promised Land,” and “Guilt and the Generation Gap.”
The Wondrous Raccoon
The raccoon deal had started about a week earlier when I was having dinner with Reinie and his family. The dogs and cats in the home reminded me of the pet raccoon that lives with the family of Wayne Adkins, a logger who lives near Pe Ell, Wash. I told briefly about the animal taking breakfast coffee with Wayne, taking a bath with the kids, going shopping with Mrs. Adkins, and so on, and suddenly I found that my audience was fascinated. They demanded more details.
In the ensuing days, upon meeting friends of Reinie and his wife, I repeatedly had to tell about the raccoon.
Finally, that evening at the Hauptmanns, when story time came for four-year-old Pia, I was invited to go into her room and tell about the critter. Instant hit! Pia smiled at the thought of the “Waschbär” playing with ice cubes. Her smile grew broader and broader, and she laughed herself to sleep.
Well, though most American kids would enjoy such a story, most American adults would soon become bored. But not so the Germans! Sophisticated middle-aged Germans wanted to hear every detail of that little animal’s life in the family.
It’s not just that Germans like animals. They carry an image of America that is compounded of the novels of Karl May (sort of a combination of James Fenimore Cooper and Zane Grey); awareness of the period when Germans flocked to America and helped build it; letters from Uncle Willy in Milwaukee; a hunger for space and economic opportunity and, in some cases, for the wilderness experience; and at least partial admiration for the informality and adventurousness they associate with some Americans. A raccoon, a logger, a great forest with elk, rivers with steelhead trout — ah, America! Tell it again! Tell of the big raccoon in the sky!
German romanticism comes to mind. And the Wandervogel (bird of passage) spirit: back to nature and the honest, simple life; striding over the hills tra-la — a movement with something of a hippie, pantheistic spirit. The movement was battered to death by World War I, but some of its wellsprings were tapped by early “idealistic” Nazis -who put new words to the old songs.
Now the pre-Nazi words are back, but the old songs are sung mainly by the old: German youth does not stride; it rocks and rolls. The big raccoon plays an electric guitar.
Ob Promised Land
This theme is entwined with the raccoon theme but emphasis is on favorable contrasts of America to Germany.
Our architect host spoke of the reactions a group of German architects had upon visiting architectural firms in The States. On one hand, they regarded their American counterparts as conformist in dress and as somewhat “standardized” in other respects. But the group concluded, admiringly, that Americans judge and pay a man on the basis of his work, not his academic credentials; that one architect would take a chance, would quit the security and prestige of a firm and try to get started on his own, and another, despite his diploma, would be willing to do nothing but design windows if he was paid and recognized for that special ability.
Our host extended the comparison. Fie imitated a German waiter inclining his head to Herr Schmidt, bowing to Doctor Wagner, and bowing deeply to Professor Braun.
The rarified and exalted position and attitudes of professors are a main cause of student unrest, he said, and I have heard that statement again and again. A very small percentage of university-age students are in universities; a small percentage of that group will continue their studies very long. Even top students in the humanities complain that they are not being prepared for “real life.” Of course, that is a traditional debate in regard to liberal arts education in America — but the German critics feel that America has established good meeting grounds between the world of’ ideas and that of practice. In Germany there is a gap between, on one side, the traditional university and the technical institute, and on the other, the advanced vocational schools. In The States, that gap is filled by state colleges.
So, to a large number of educated Germans, America, despite her glaring faults (being either too tough or too soft in Vietnam) still is the promised land, a nation to emulate: pragmatic; blending the practical and materialistic with the theoretical and idealistic; a place where there is physical and psychological room to build.
Guilt and The Generation Gap
Frau Hauptmann was a child when the war ended. She remembers the first American she ever saw — a Negro soldier who gave her candy. “Just think of it, I’ she told us, her eyes brimming, “he gave me candy!” That is one reason she has a personal reaction to news of racial strife in America.
Another reason is that her age group and younger Germans bear a special burden in regard to race hatred. They have seen films of death camps, of Hitler and Goebbels ranting. They grew up in a society that sublimated the past and built a new life from rubble. And no matter how much they study the causes of the rise of Nazism — the war-guilt clause of the Versailles Treaty, reparations, unemployment, Communist threat, and so on — they feel that their parents’ generation befouled humanity. But they have a searing resentment of being held guilty for that generation’s actions.
Frau Hauptmann had little patience with the attempts of Reinie and myself to interpret his generation. I felt a little intolerant of her when she seemed lacking in historical perspective. At times, it seems to me, she put us both in the position of the WASP who says in all sincerity, “Some of my best friends are Negroes,” but who finds that more zealous liberals have made that statement very out.
When she asked me, very intently, about my own feelings about Jews, and I replied that I had a very positive feeling for them and that as an Easterner who had moved west I missed them in a very pert6hal way, she was very relieved and very happy. To the same question, Reinie’s response — that he had liked various Jews but had never thought of them as Jewish, only as “good guys” — struck me as more ”American” than my own response, but it did riot disarm Mrs. Hauptmann: Reinie was a 48year-old German, and despite their friendship, some part of him was forever condemned in her eyes.
Reinie told her that the mass of Germans would never have stood for the extermination program. He pointed out that it took place late in the war and in Poland; I documented the secrecy with which it was carried out. But to young Germans, that kind of comment is hair-splitting. They point out that even though the death camps came late, most Germans knew something about the earlier concentration camps and did not resist the initial anti-Semitic, anti-liberal programs that paved the way for the outright atrocities.
Of the 10 German exchange students I knew at a New England prep school in 1935, only three survived the war. One survivor, a commander in the West German Navy, is pro-American, a “hawk” on Vietnam, and a zealous NATO guardian of The West. The second survivor, a businessman, continuously has foreign students and visitors — especially Africans — staying in his home. Also anti-Communist, he sees Communism as an equivalent of Nazism — and to him opposition to Communism is a responsibility, an expiation he feels is necessary for the guilt of having been a “dedicated, idealistic Nazi.”
The third survivor is Reinie. It has taken him 11 months to tell me that he was the most dedicated Nazi (at 16) of the 10 students in 1935. He came to love America, especially through the way of life of the “exchange” parents with whom he lived on vacations.
“But I wasn’t influenced enough to turn against my own country,” he told me recently.
Reinie describes his father as an old-time German nationalist. The father was top civil servant under Frick in the Interior Department until 1942, when he retired. The father and mother took poison when the Russians entered their home in Berlin.
The mother, 18 years younger than her husband, was 48, Reinie’s present age, when she died in 1945.
At that time, Reinie was in a Canadian POW camp. The prisoners were shown films of the death camps. “At first,” Reinie told Frau Hauptmann and me, “We thought the films were fakes . . . but finally we had to face the truth.”
The way be sums it up now might stand for the attitude of Frau Hauptmann and Germans younger than herself:
“I feel shame, but no guilt.”
**Reinie Pfundtner Today.
**THREE CAME BACK Of the 10 German exchange students who attended Tabor Academy, Marion, Mass., in 1935, seven died in action as officers in World War II. The three who survived are standing together in the rear row of this photograph, which was taken aboard ship in July 1935. Right to left are Reinie Pfundtner, Earl Kűnzel and Karl Franck. Older man in center, an instructor from Germany, also survived.
**None of the three survivors knew that any of the others had survived, until informed by this reporter in 1958. Karl Kűnzel, left, a commander in the West German Navy, and Karl Franck, an executive in a toy company, go over Tabor mementos upon meeting again after 33 years.
**Kűnzel, a Fast Patrol Boat skipper in the war, had a record number of missions…
**…. and won the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross).
HAMBURG — Here in a lecture hall was the second of the two gulfs dividing Germans as a result of Nazism and the war.
In the lecture hall the gulf was represented by the space between the stage and the audience and by what was said across that space.
At a table on the stage were four East German officials from the city of Rostock. One, named Minetti, was a former actor. Of the four East Germans in the lecture hall, be was the star performer. Beside them at the table were three West Germans, members of the German Peace Union (DFU), a very minor party composed mainly of pacifists, left-wing students, and former members of the now-outlawed Communist Party.
Four East German Communists, at right of table, face sarcastic West German audience in Hamburg.
The Hamburg DFU had invited the East Germans to speak at this open meeting and to answer questions concerning prospects for reunification of Germany.
About two-thirds of the audience of some 500 were university age. My eventual conclusion was that roughly one fifth of the audience were DFU-oriented, one fifth were militant anti-Communists, and the bulk of the remaining two thirds were anti-Communist but interested in hearing proposals for better relations. This majority lost patience with the speakers as the evening went on. The air became thick with sarcasm and hostility. Yet — despite some bitter outbursts — there was a strand of compassion in the dominant mood.
What it all added up to was frustration. Not only did the East Germans have to speak primarily as officials rather than as individuals, but the Stalinist rigidity of their regime made it inevitable that they would merely mouth propaganda. They showed no flexibility, no overt acknowledgement that their society had faults. The special strain — or pain — of the confrontation came because the speakers and the frequently heckling audience were not in the relatively simple position of compatriots debating ideology or of foreigners upholding different national prides and interests: both sides were German; the barrier between the two Germanys, at first merely geographical, was now also ideological. The same demons haunt both sides of the Curtain. In the Hamburg audience were many who definitely wanted to participate in communication — and the same desire, I would judge, was bottled in some of the speakers.
Compromise on the German problem? All problems could be worked out, said the Communists, but only after the absolutely necessary first step was taken: West Germany must recognize the legitimacy of the East German regime.
The foursome attached the best German regime as oppressive and immoral. Whenever the ironies became so blatant that the audience became a sea of sarcasm, the speaker would alter direction, returning to the past of Nazism and war, saying that East Germany was dedicated to peace and implying that East Germans as people were morally superior because of complete anti-Nazi, anti-war dedication. And to me it was impressive that in this one area, the bulk of the audience gave the speakers credit for sincerity.
The more vigorously the speakers damned Hitler and old German militarism, the quieter became the audience.
But when the speakers tried to equate the West German regime with neo-Nazism and support for American “imperialism,” the hecklers tossed the Nazi image back to the stage, the thrust being that Pankow, not Bonn, is “Nazi.”
When Minetti talked of Vietnam horrors, students shouted, “Germany! Tell us about the wall! Tell us about the big East German concentration camp!”
(This meeting took place just before the liberalization wave in Prague had gathered full momentum. The speakers would be in an impossible position if such a meeting were held today.)
Among high points of irony, drama, farce:
— Minetti, after getting little audience support from his linking of West Germany with the “bloody assault” on Vietnam, groped further. He dwelt on the horrible nature of napalm and added, “But you were already aware of the particular nature of American cruelty. For instance, the bombing of Dresden –“
His voice was drowned by incredulous laughter. To be sure, the terror bombing of Dresden late in toe war left deep resentment as well as Hiroshima-scale civilian casualties. But the audience could scarcely realize that an East German would reach so far in order to stir pure emotion.
— Even Minetti had to grin after making this attempt at serious criticism:
“On both Western German television networks (audience: “You watch them! You watch them!”) there is a big weather map that includes all of Germany in its 1937 borders as if it were still one nation, under Bonn, of course. That’s not a weather map; it’s a political climate map.” (From the audience, groans and laughter.)
— Minetti said East Germany had been the poorest part of the Reich but was now the second biggest producer in the “socialist world” and one of the biggest in the entire world — “and we did it ourselves.” he received strong, non-satirical applause, which he acknowledged with a slight nod: for a moment both sides were communicating just beneath the surface.
(It is increasingly realized in West Germany that there is pride of accomplishment even among those East Germans strongly opposed to their own regime. One West German will tell another, “If you visit the East, don’t act sorry for them and don’t expect any of them to envy our system 100 per cent.”)
— “Why must you speak as apparatchiks?” said a young man in the audience. “Why don’t we all speak with the voice of humanity? If you are afraid to speak as persons, you can stay here. We will welcome you.”
A burst of applause from the audience; one red face and one very thoughtful expression among the East Germans; and a comment by the DFU moderator:
“That is just the point. These gentlemen are our guests and they are officials. None of us can expect magic solutions; we are trying to make a start.”
— There was a breath-stopping confrontation when a man in the audience arose and informed one of the East Germans that three years previously he had served in the department run by the East German…I watched the Fast German’s face literally grow pale . . . The former East German went on: he was in the West with one son; his wife and other two children were still in “ostock.
The silence was dynamic. Then be went on: for two years he had lived “in darkness,” unable to communicate with his wife.
“It was West German money that got me out!” he added, referring to the existence of “ways” to get out of East Germany, a subject that no one likes to talk about in detail for obvious reasons.
As if the scene hadn’t been dramatic enough, a member of the audience got to his feet and announced that the refugee from the East had remarried in the West.
It was hard to know what to do with one’s emotions. The audience cleared its throat, and the matter was dropped.
— Herr Schafer, another of the East Germans, was pursuing a point that I hadn’t quite grasped because of his Saxon accent, when he said, “All power comes from the state — I mean, the people.”
During the hilarious reaction, he kept his cool. His retort:
“I thank you for your applause. Surely you realize that with us, the state and the people are not in contradiction.”
He went on to challenge the audience in regard to worker-protection laws in the two states. Though I “lost him” again, I would say that the subject was at least related to specific problems of reunification of the two Germanys.
— The last word was said, without bombast, by Minetti, the former actor. He told the audience that he would speak as a person, not as an official, and he asked leave to speak in the role of a character he had once played. I paraphrase his words in that characterization:
Only by uniting can the people overcome the bourgeoisie nationalism that twice led Germany to war on her neighbors. I must align myself with an organization that is dedicated against a third attack.
The lines had an old-fashioned ring but also a convincing one. And the anti-Communist audience gave him credit for sincerity, if not for perspective, in that dedication he had once made, back when all of Germany was in ashes. For a moment the gulf was breached.
An NPD Meeting
I think that some people attend National Democratic Party (NPD) speeches merely to feel “German.”
Waiting to hear NPD speakers in Hamburg, Hans hears the good old marching songs over the loudspeakers. Hans sits back and surveys the rest of the audience: quite a number of rather old men and women but mainly good, plain, middle-aged people like himself. Many, he reflects, are small businessmen being squeezed by the big guys, the jazzy supermarket chains that are eroding the German way of life. . . another example, he tells himself, of the American influence*
Hans notes with pleasure that there are some serious-looking young people present but wishes there were more. In the rear are some hippie-types; Hans frowns. He concludes they are left-wing students, here to heckle. He is right.
Hans formally bows to an acquaintance of his who runs a tobacco shop. Hans sits back again; his foot keeping time with the music. He hopes the speaker will be good. At least he will have some truths to tell about the lost homelands in the East. At least he will not apologize for being German.
There is applause as the main speaker, Siegfried Pőhlmann, a member of the Bavarian legislature, walks onto the stage.
…I had seen Pőhlmann several months earlier among other delegates at the AFD national convention. Now, at Hamburg, I was in his audience to get a better idea of the rank and file members of the NPD. The national delegates had tended to be well-educated, upper- middle class. The rank and file in Hamburg looked more like the people you would see at a lodge potluck.
The use of the word “Nazi” to describe this party is highly misleading. It is accurate only in that the NPD is the only party that a completely unregenerate Nazi would have sympathy for, and in that many of the leaders were Nazis. But nationalism itself is not Nazism. The vague rhetoric of the leaders about patriotism and Germanism have a Goldwaterish or De Gaullish ring. The emotional emphasis on divided Germany may be potentially dangerous but it is not an ideology. In regard to the Soviet Zone, the AFD is more impatient, unrealistic and glib than the other parties. In regard to the lands beyond the Oder-Neisse, it is only recently that the Social Democrats have tacitly given up, and the Christian Democrats have not done so. Indeed, concerning the “German problem,” the XPD sounds a great deal like the CDU and its 6avarian affiliate, The Christian Social Union (CSU) a few years ago, the main difference being that the NPD wants test Germany to pursue its eastern course free of American influence. The Nazis in the NPD are old Nazis; there are no new Nazis. The university students attracted to the party are impatient about the divided-Germany problem but few of them are fanatics. There is no atmosphere of hoodlumism.
(I have been speaking of party Members, not people who will simply vote for the party. The voters will be discussed in connection with the coming Baden-Wűrttemberg election.)
There was no election coming up in Hamburg, so Pőhlmann wasn’t campaigning for a candidate. He was throughout West Germany are trying to maintain the momentum of last year’s gains, when they entered six state parliaments for the first time: trying to get the NPD image across as a responsible party that will be the official opposition in the federal parliament after the 1969 election; making the most of conservative reactions against leftest student demonstrations; working ceaselessly on the emotions caused by the division of Germany.
“Let’s have an end to this Nazi-baiting,” said Pőhlmann. Obviously with Chancellor Kiesinger in mind, he commented, “There are former Nazis in the big party.” And he took the usual NPD crack at Foreign Minister Willy Brandt and the former Communist who is now minister of All-German Affairs, Herbert Wehner.
“Let’s drop this obsession about war criminals,” he said. “Certainly the real war criminals should be punished, but one would think that all Germans who fought for their country were criminals. How about the criminals of Hiroshima and Vietnam?”
To me it seemed significant that to an audience with a high percentage of NPD members, he made a statement that was implicitly anti-Nazi. He said the radical students, not the NPD, were the “real Nazis.”
The reason for student unrest, he said, was that they were disoriented from growing up in a nation that was not fully theirs. He urged that the NPD supporters reach out to the students, educate them in the “idea of Germany,” and “join them in a coalition against the Grand Coalition.”
The Splintered Left
Hubert Kuschnik, a Communist editor in Hamburg, told me that the main threat in West Germany is not the NPD but the “fascist tendencies in the CDU/CSU and latent neo-Nazism in the public.”
(In calling Kuschnik a Communist, I refer to his having been a member of the Communist Party until it was outlawed in 1956 and to his statement that he will join it if it in reconstituted. He edits the weekly Marxist paper, BLINKFŰER
Kuschnik agreed that many NPD votes are merely in pro test against the Grand Coalition and that many of them come from the SPD.
“The SPD functionaries are very disillusioned with the party’s role in the coalition,” he said.
He professed to be worried about the weakening of the Social Democrats:
“In 1969 the CDU/CSU could form a new coalition -with the NPD, under Strauss as chancellor.” (Strauss, leader of the CSU and finance minister of the coalition government, has a reputation for ruthlessness and ability. Some of his emotional speeches in Bavaria have plucked some of the chords that the NPD plucks.)
Though Kruschnik did not say so, the SPD is being eroded not only by malcontents who vote NPD in protest, but by peeling off on the extreme left wing. Though that wing is very small, only a few percentage points mean a great deal in the balance between the two major parties, under the proportional election system that probably won’t ‘he changed until 1973.
And what of the organizational state of the far left, I asked Kruschnik.
He discussed with some dejection the half dozen tiny groups that comprise it, and the splinters within the splinters.
His notes of optimism were two:
- If the Communist Party is reconstructed, it will grow to be larger than the sum of the present splinter groups.
- Progress is being made with the radical students:
“We have been talking earnestly with them — trying to convince them that they can’t change things by themselves, that they must have contact with the workers. They are strongly influenced by Marcuse, you know, but in the past six months they are coming more and more to Marx. Of course, we have to cope with the traditional worker attitude toward students.”
It is obvious that men Iike Kruschnik are not hoping for big left-wing electoral advances in the near future. Their interests and hopes focus on the relationship with East Germany; consequently I believe he was sincere in saying lie wants a strong SPD (for awhile, anyway). That is a “popular front” type of approach, though of course the far left has few votes to contribute.
In words that had a familiar ring after my hearing the four East German officials, Kruschnik said:
“The whole political climate of Europe will improve when this regime recognizes the East German regime. Our regime does not speak for all of Germany.
“East Germany is the key — not the other East European nations, not a direct deal with the Soviet Union.
“After recognition, all the problems of’ closer relationships between the two parts of Germany can be worked out.”
Since that interview, East Germany has become even more isolated within its own block — by events in Czechoslovakia. Thus it would seem that West Germany’s leverage in its relationship with East Germany has been increased.
During the first week of Polish student demonstrations, I had lunch in Hamburg with Theo Sommer, foreign relations expert of DIE ZEIT, a highly respected weekly. In 1964, during a short-lived thaw, Sommer had spent several weeks in East Germany with two associates, traveling almost at will, talking on and off the record with hitch-hikers, factory workers, students, physicists, artists, officials -with everyone they could reach. Since then Sommer has kept as many avenues open to the East as possible.
I told Sommer that many Germans had said to me that the key to closer relationships with East Germany was Moscow, that there was no sense in “fooling around” with Ulbricht.
But on that one point Sommer agreed with the Communist editor Kruschnik: Moscow is not the route to Pankow.
“I have a theory,” said Sommer, ”that in some ways the relationship between Pankow and Moscow is quite similar to that between Bonn and Washington.”
In substance, I believe Sommer’s point was that both parts of Germany are now powerful nations in their own right and that both of them have considerable leeway for altering course — much more leeway than a few years ago; that the Ulbricht regime’s “Stalinism” isn’t due entirely to special subservience to Moscow in contrast with other members of the Eastern Block; that, in fact, the regime’s rigidity is due partly to its domestic problems but also to its tactical approach to West Germany. Sommer feels that Ulbricht has considerable leverage against Moscow as well, due to East Germany’s industrial status.
In short, Sommer apparently feels that East Germany may begin to deal two ways. Such developments — following Prague’s liberalization — would be a tremendous hammer-blow at post World War II rigidities.
STUTTGART — My earlier equating of the NPD with the old McCarthyism really wasn’t too appropriate. The NPD is rightist and militantly anti-Communist: end of comparison.
But the other of the two significant minority parties — the Free Democrats (FDP) — has attracted into politics a man with Eugene McCarthy-style appeal to moderately liberal students. The appeal has nothing to do with Vietnam; it copies from the new man’s mixture of intelligence, clarity, vigor and reasonableness.
The man — Ralf Dahrendorf, a 39-year-old sociologist and historian— is a sure thing to be elected to the Baden-Wűrttemberg parliament on April 28, and he has been campaigning for other candidates. He arrived on the scene a few months ago, revitalizing the party after the resignation of its national chairman, Erich Mende, and. his appearance on the state ballot will complicate things for the analysts with their eyes on the 1969 federal elections.
Here is the background:
Last year the NPD drew up even with the FDP in some state elections and passed it in others. Since then, NPD sentiment bas been growing among farmers who had bumper crops last summer but little money to spend last winter — because the West German farmer, under Common Market agreements, now gets no subsidies and is undersold in the domestic market by other European farmers. Observers have been predicting that the NPD (which didn’t exist when the state had its last election four years ago) will get up to 8 per cent of the vote. This would come mainly from the farmers, who live in the southern part of the state, are Catholic, and normally vote CDU. Some of the vote would also supposedly come from the right wing of the supposedly disintegrating FDP.
But Dahrendorf has come through as the type of liberal but practical figure that the party has seemed to need. Students from both major parties are flocking to his call to break with the conformities of those parties and “again make politics.”
If, despite Dahrendorf, the FDP loses ground and the NPD makes big gains, the effect on the national level may be to paralyze the two major parties into a continuation of the coalition psychology — both parties against the NPD.
If the FDP gets more than the 13 per cent it received four years ago, Dahrendorf will probably emerge as de facto leader of the revitalized party — a possibility for resumption of the old federal coalition with the CDU.
However the FDP fares generally in Baden-Wűrttemberg, a special situation may give it the balance of power in the constituencies of the university cities of Freiburg, Heidelberg and Tűbingen. Four years ago the students were on vacation. This election they will be at school, with more than half’ of them eligible to vote. The student swing to Dahrendorf could very well decide a great many seats in Tűbingen, for instance, where the CDU had a three per cent plurality over the SPD last time but where 6,500 students will be eligible to vote this time.
In contrast with the NPD, music at a Dahrendorf meeting is folk rock, Burl Ives, Israeli folk songs and “We Shall Overcome.” (Below, Dahrendorf fields questions in Stuttgart.)
Received in New York April 11, 1968.