A VIENNESE REPORTS ON HIS CITY
By EL.GAR BURGHARDT
To-day I have the chance to send you an " uncensored" report on what is going on here and to tell you truly and freely of the feelings of the Austrian people, as I have seen them since I returned.
It is now two years since VE-Day yet Austria is still occupied by four armies, having to pay the cost of occupation herself.
There are still about 60,000 Austrian men missing. most of them being prisoners of war in Russia, Yugoslavia and Poland. Belgium has only this month consented to send home the Austrian prisoners of war given into her custody by the British and Americans.
Yet the worst of it all is, that chaos is artificially maintained here by those very same forces who came here as "liberators from chaos." I am now not talking of all the difficulties caused by the disharmony of the four occupying forces, hut much more of the difficulties caused through those things about which occupying forces are in harmony. These are requisitioning of estates, of furniture, of fruits and vegetables and practically of everything any member of the occupying forces may fancy. Viennese humour calls that " liberating." and the "liberated " goods and their owners never see each other again.
One thing must be stated truly: the British forces behave best and " liberate " least. It is well known enough that the Russians, for instance, have a special liking for watches. bicycles, telephones or anything else mechanical. Yet they ¬ only requisition and "liberate" at liberty, but much more wantonly destroy. The Americans, being much higher civilised, show their special liking for good furniture and for art by " liberating " anything of this kind they can get hold of.
Starvation Level For instance, while, often enough, an Austrian family of six or even seven people has to live in one room, the housing problem here is very serious indeed, a single American officer must have a flat of up to four or five rooms. and should his family arrive, he is moving at once to a whole house to himself. Austrian Taw gives two people the right to occupy one room, as we have many citizens who have nowhere to go at ail. Now you can imagine how a people feels under such circumstances.
Austrian rations to-day are just above starvation level, yet we must .look on while officers of the occupying forces throw away f9od we do no more dare even to dream of. The Austrian citizen gets about 5 lbs. of bread a week, bread being the main food he gets at all.
Yet almost every day I find ht the dust bin in our &nose two to four loaves of white bread thrown away by the American officers living in our house. Austrian bread at the moment is made of maize and horribly dark.
Another question is the requisitioning of furniture. pots and pans and china for the use of the Allied forces. All those goods cannot yet be produced for the Austrian home market, and the people have to make tlo with what has survived the bombing. I know families who have two cups for five people. Yet Allied officers " liberate " those goods on a luxury scale, and most of those goods are never given back to their owners.
Every former Nazi knows he may get the quasi-protection of the occupying forces either by entering the Communist Party or into Black Market dealings with the French or Americans.
I will tell you a typical story; it happens almost every day. A Nazi acquired a Jewish property under the Hitler regime. When now the Jewish owner tries to regain the flat, for instance, he will find that most of the reparation laws of the Austrian Government have not yet been sanctioned by the Occupation authorities and can, therefore, not yet be used to protect his rights.
Nazi Occupation In one case I know of, it took the returned refugee eight months to get an Austrian Government order entitling him to a kind of subtenancy of one room in his flat, from which he was thrown out by the Nazi still occupying it.
When the Nazi got to know this Government order. he went and offered the room to the local Allied billeting officer, not telling him of the requisition order of the Austrian Government authority. The room was the very same morning requisitioned by the Allied billeting officer, who, when informed of the Austrian Government order, said that it was not his job to judge right or injustice, it is merely his job to get estates for the use of his soldiers and officers. This is derpocracy as it is practised nowadays in Austria by the democratic liberators."
.German P.O.W.s' Gift To Welsh Bishop
By IVOR HAEL
Through the enthusiasm of Fr. Frenze, from the Diocese of Osnabruck, now P.O.W. Chaplain at Caermarthen, over 200 P.O.W.s, officers and men, were assembled at Milford Haven on Sunday last when the Bishop of Menevia presided at a Solemn open-air Mass celebrated by Major the Rev. Fr. Savage, S.C.F., Western Command, with Fr. Frenze as Deacon and Fr. Werner, a "soldier-priest," as subdeacon.
After Mass the P.O.W.s through their chaplain offered a cheque to His Lordship the Bishop representing a day's " wages " from each man. The Bishop acknowledged this symbolical gift in moving words, and presided at the afternoon function, during which he bore the Sacred Host in procession to the open-air altar at which Fr. Werner delivered , a heart-felt " Fervorino " to Our Lady.
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DICK STOKES ON GERMANY
better. A casual visitor might be deceived by the tanned faces to be seen every where and by the reasonably good crop harvest, But if he scratched below the surface, he'd find plenty to disturb his equanimity, " In spite of the glorious weather, there are anxious hearts in Germany wcmdering what the winter will bring. The freeze-up last year followed by the summer drought has taken its toll of food. 20,000 tons of potatoes have been lost, and great quantities of green vegetables have beea destroyed. The fear is firmly rooted that the January to April period will bring grave shortages unless a full eight weeks' reserve is built up by Christmas. To meet this reserve not less than 370,000 tons of flour equivalent must be imported into the AngloAmerican Zone ea:th month from September to December.
20,000 Tons Potatoes Lost
Mr. Stokes went on to trounce the Allied reparations' policy which in practice is producing " the worst possible effect on the minds of the German people."
Casting a professional eye on the dismantling work now in progress at the great Krupps steel plant in Essen during his tour, Mr. Stokes took note of the wasteful destruction entailed:,
'I saw 10,000 tons of ingot steel, much of it stainless, 500 tons of welding rods, stores cutters and precision gauges which could easily he removed, and yet it seems to be the official intention to blow up the buildings they're in before they are nzoved.
" Why the buildings themselves should be demolished, I cannot think—at a time when reconstruction is so desperately urgent and building materials are at a premium.
Wealth Is Dynamited
"The gantries and steel frameworks now about to be touched off by dynamite, cannot be spared. The whole business is a senseless outrage which ought to be stopped at once. It's just as if some crazy lunatic had taken charge intent on destruction just when all the world is crying out for more production ! "
Roughly 10 per cent. of all workers in the industrial city of Essen are employed at Krupps, Mr. Stokes told me.
" What their fate will be when their livelihood is blown sky high under their noses, the Control Commission appears neither to know or care. Probably not a few of them will join the ranks of the rubbleclearers. The rest may find their way into the Black Market, which seems to be the most rewarding occupation left in Germany for those with any initiative or ingenuity."
Equally negative and depressing, in Mr. Stokes' opinion. is the denasification policy carried on in the British Zone; " Germans make unfavourable comparisons with treatment in the camps run by the Ameri
cans. The latter do the screening and investigating at one shot, mostly by Germans.
" We subject the German to what is equivalent to a military tribunal and then turn him over to his own people, who try his case all over again.
" There are bitter complaints about the • political ' flavour of many of the trials and the general lack of justice.
" To-day's most optimistic estimate is that it will take another two years to 'complete. Denazification, except for the very black, of whom there were only 54 in a camp I visited containing 4,000 people, who have already been in orison for two years, should he speedily ended. Such a policy would bring a sigh of relief to Control Commission and Germans alike."
Rome Prepares For "Holy Year"
The Italian Government and Vatican authorities have begun preparations for a " Holy Year " celebration in 1950, when millions of Catholics will visit Rome from all over the world.
Preparations for a Holy Year needed months of study in normal times, but present-day problems of communications, lodging, food, and general welfare will worsen the difficulties.
The Holy Year will begin with the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter's on the Christmas Eve of 1949,