Page 6, 19th May 1967

19th May 1967
Page 6
Page 6, 19th May 1967 — The schizophrenia that makes Hochhuth and company tick

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Organisations: American Army, Catholic Church


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The schizophrenia that makes Hochhuth and company tick


Capitulation by Carl Arnery (Sheed and Ward, 15s.).

QINCE the Second World War German public life has suffered from schizophrenia. Its roots lie deep in the period of re-education after 1945.

At that time the Americans endeavoured to teach Germans democracy by handing over the means of influencing public opinion — newspapers, printing presses, editorial houses and radio—to their chosen instruments. In looking for such persons, they eliminated conservative Catholics, despite their resistance record. because they were "reactionaries"; neither did they take Labour Socialists and Trade Unionists, because they were against free enterprise.

They settled half way by choosing certified intellectuals, who were bourgeois by their economic appetite but sentimentality left of Socialisns—a truly homeless group. To those drifting people was given the heady feeling of absolute power since they alone were permitted to speak, while others had to keep Unfortunately for them, this happy time came to an end when the citizens were called to the polls and elected their own representatives, mostly conservative Christians and pragmatic Socialists.

Since that day, there has been in Germany a discrepancy between the people on the one side and the spokesmen of alleged "public opinion" on the other. Entrenched in their monopolistic positions, the latter, while economically saturated, feel frustrated because the masses do not obey their orders. Hence their intense, one might say, feminine hatred for the Bonn State.

In an effort to gain indirectly political power, the heirs to the Morgenthau era and their chosen collaborators, first hoped to influence the trade unions. They failed, because their esoteric speculations did not go well with workers realism. Then they tried to transform the Catholic Church into an instrument of political protest. There too they did not succeed. Hence their anger which finds its expression in the theatricals of Hochhuth and his minor literary epigones, such as Mr. Carl Amery.

Mr. Amery's book, recently translated into English is an almost perfect document of the agonizing frustration on the part of a person, obviously believing that he is called to higher things, but stifled by what he considers the obtuseness of the masses.

For him democracy is not the rule of majority, but the victory ofthose who share his prejudices Hence, his notion of the "milieu" as the allegedly dominant force in Bonn, a convenient catch-word to create, according to the needs, an enemy who can be easily denounced, since ire does not exist as such and is not likely to strike back.

In writing about the milieu, Mr. Amery reveals his own and his colleagues' congenital incapacity for factual social analysis. 'His thinking still dwells in the middle of the nineteenth century, a period of wealth and poverty, of proletarians and capitalists.

He does not realise that our time is moving rapidly towards a re-alignment on the centre, the emergence of the new industrial middle class, the managerial revolution. Faced with the rising tide of modem middle-class strength, he averts his eyes and looks nostalgically into the past, where there were proletarians. who would gratefully accept the leadership of a self-appointed spokesman.

This twisted view of the world is the foundation of Mr. Amery's criticism of the Church. Lacking facts, he takes to unsubstantiated generalisations. It would be tedious to, enumerate the many cases in which, in order to indict German Catholicism, he ignores the evidence, such as when he accuses the Germans of having been uncharitable towards the millions of refugees after 1945.

Of course there were cases of injustice since Germans, like any mass of humans, are made up of few saints and many sinners. But Mr. Amery overlooks significantly the heroic measure, the Lastenausgleich, a unique collective sacrifice in favour of those who had been forced from their native soil.

The cover of this pocket-book is worthy of the content. We find the brazen remark: "The charge is serious, not to say damning, but he makes it stick." There are of course plenty of charges, but they don't stick.

Then there is the misleading picture of Cardinal Spellman with an American soldier, chosen for his size and the unfavourable angle from which he is photographed. With that the venerable clergyman is the Vicar General of the American Army and he has nothing to do with Germany; his name is not even mentioned in the text.

Towards the end of his work Mr. Amery, with a rare flash of insight, muses over the question how many of his readers would have angrily snapped shut the volume before reaching that point. This writer, at least, was not tempted to a gesture of anger, which even if only in the negative sense, would pay homage to something intelligent and provocative. But he must admit that, most of the time, the waste paper basket looked awfully attractive.

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