... by Ernie Trory

Chapter Fourteen - The Berlin Wall

Defending the border

WRITING IN 'DIE BUNDESWEHR' in April 1961, Franz-Josef strauss, Minister of War in the Federal Republic, called for the "hour of rescue" while his friend, Alfons Dalma, editor-in-chief of the MUnchener Merkur, wrote in his paper on the 26th June that an "explosion" must be achieved in the GDR and that this involved suitable organisational "preparations by the West." On the 6th July, a body known as the "Research Advisory Council," in the so-called Ministry for All-German Affairs, produced an economic programme of immediate tasks for the rebuilding of capitalism in East Germany, after the overthrow of the workers' and farmers' power.

On a visit to the USA, Franz-Josef Strauss announced in Santa Rosa, California, that "the Second World War is not yet over." He called for a political offensive to achieve "the right to self-determination" not only for the GDR but also specifically for Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania. In personal talks, he tried to persuade President Kennedy and his advisers that a "popular uprising" was imminent in the GDR and that the Federal government, with American support, could solve this "inner-German conflict." At a press conference in New York, he stressed that "the West must be prepared for a kind of civil war in Germany." All this was faithfully reproduced in the August 1961 issue of Die Bundeswehr.

By this time, the West German militarists had built up the framework of a million-strong army, led by fascist officers and trained as an army of aggression equipped for nuclear warfare. West Germany had become the strongest NATO military power in Europe. Acts of provocation had become everyday occurrences and once again West Berlin had become the springboard for the attack on the GDR. Here is how Professor Albert Norden, a member of the Presidium of the World Peace Council and of the People's Chamber of the GDR, described the extent of activities in that half-city, in his book, 'Thus Wars Are Mad':
"Western secret services sprang up like mushrooms - the spies of the Federal Intelligence Service and the offices for the 'Protection of the Constitution,' and East Bureaux of the Bonn political parties, the offices of the emigrant scum from the socialist countries, the 'Fighting Group Against Inhumanity,' the 'West Information Cen- tre,' the 'Investigation Committee of Free Jurists' and all the other groups run by criminals and nazi mountebanks and financed by Bonn ...

"But this was not all. West Berlin attracted all sorts of human vermin, since they found jobs and money there. Every barn set alight in the GDR, all the damage done in GDR enterprises, every act of sabotage in the transport system, all the enticements of skilled workers, key specialists, engineers, doctors and scientists to abandon the GDR - all this was intended to bring chaos into the social life and economy of the hated socialist part of Germany. No stone was left unturned and everything was well paid for."

Eleanor Dulles, head of the German Division of the US State Department, estimated that the total value of losses suffered by the GDR as a result of enticing away technicians and specialists was in the order of 30,000 million marks. But this was only one activity. Let Professor Norden describe some of the others for us:

"The fraudulent currency exchange rates, unfavourable to the GDR, enabled citizens of capitalist countries, but especially German capitalists, to buy up valuable GDR products cheap through a broad network of smugglers. Smuggling ranged from thousands of tons of meat and butter to film cameras and optical instruments, from typewriters to valuable works of art. A million people travelled between West Berlin and the GDR every day and a considerable number of these were engaged in this sordid business. GDR citizens were also corrupted by it. In this and a thousand other ways the GDR was being undermined financially and politically. In short, international reaction did its utmost to send the GDR sky high."

Unfortunately, the West German militarists and revanchists encountered no opposition from the social democrats in the Federal Republic - not even in West Berlin, where they held a majority of the seats in the Senate. The policy of these social democrats was determined by the right-wing leadership of their party which included such renegades as Herbert Wehner, a former Communist Party functionary who had been expelled for supporting NATO as "a condition for achieving German unification."

At the end of January 1961, Franz-Josef Strauss called for the establishment of a "national control staff" with full military, political and economic powers, in preparation for an attack on the GDR. In February, manoeuvres were held on the borders of the GDR and Czechoslovakia, and a surprise attack on the frontiers of these socialist countries was rehearsed.

On the 12th June, Franz-Josef Strauss, General Foerysch (head of the Bundeswehr) and General Norstad (American Commander-in-Chief of the NATO forces) attended a conference at which contingency plans were discussed. A few days later, the US press confirmed the existence of a plan for an armed invasion of the GDR. In the 19th June issue of Newsweek, Lloyd Norman, its Pentagon reporter, revealed that General Norstad only had to give the alarm to set the NATO ground and air forces in motion. He could put 500 planes into the air and move troops towards the frontier at a word. He could even alert Thor rockets sited in England and Jupiter rockets sited in Italy. It was reported in the USA that a small atom bomb might also be dropped by a us plane on any concentration of Soviet tanks that might arise from an attempt by US trucks to force their way through from West Germany to West Berlin.

On the 18th June, Franz-Josef Strauss, in a speech to officers and soldiers of the Bundeswehr, demanded the liquidation of the GDR and of the socialist order in eastern Europe. Ten days later, the former nazi General Heusinger confirmed that West German divisions were ready to "carry out any mission immediately." On the following day, the Bundestag passed a law which had the effect of rehabilitating the SS ordnance troops, Waffen SS units and SS Death's-Head troops. On the 3rd July, General Clarke, Commander of the US armed forces in Europe, called for a state of "complete preparedness."

After spending the second half of July 1961 in the USA and taking part in conferences in the Pentagon, Franz-Josef Strauss returned to the Federal Republic on the 1st August - the day on which an alert was proclaimed for all NATO units in Europe. The US air forces immediately started air transport manoeuvres in West Germany; and on the 8th August, the West German navy deployed a hundred ships along the Baltic coast-line of the GDR. On the 10th August, ex-nazi General Speidel, Commander of NATO ground forces in Central Europe, announced that his troops were ready.

In face of these threats, the Warsaw Pact powers met in Moscow. There was no doubt that war was imminent if drastic measures were not taken to curb the subversive activities of the NATO reactionaries. Immediate steps were taken to safeguard the peace of Europe and to prevent the outbreak of war on a world scale.

And so it was that on the morning of the 13th August the warmongers awoke to find that a brick wall had been built overnight along the entire frontier of the GDR with West Berlin. And manning the wall were the workers' militia, the frontier troops and the People's Army of the German Democratic Republic. Behind them stood units of the Soviet Red Army backed by the armies of the entire European socialist camp, on full alert in their own socialist republics. The speed of this mobilisation took the conspirators completely by surprise. The plan to invade the peaceful territories of the socialist countries in Europe had to be abandoned. So too had the plans of the diversionists and spies, currency speculators, smugglers and traders in human lives.

Summing up this action in his book, Thus Wars Are Made, Professor Norden, to whom we are indebted for much of the factual information on the events leading up to the building of the Berlin Wall, had this to say:

"We know from long and bitter experience how imperialist wars come about. A demonstration of how imperialist wars can be prevented was given on the 13th August 1961. This will go down in history as an example of how socialism can deal a fatal blow to bellicose aggressors if it unites to act in a sober and resolute manner."

In an article on "The Application of Leninist Principles of Socialist Economic Management in the GDR" published in Pravda on the 9th January 1964, Walter Ulbricht, General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), wrote:

"During the year 1961, we created a qualitatively new situation. In the spring of 1960, all individual peasants had joined the existing agricultural production co-operatives, or united in new ones, in a great political upsurge in agriculture. This triumph of the socialist relations of production in the countryside was of fundamental significance for our further development. Moreover, the measures to safeguard the GDR state frontiers were imposed in August 1961. In this way, the West German imperialists lost a large part of their possibilities to recruit labour from the GDR, for speculation, disruptive activities and sabotage, by which they had previously conducted the cold war against the GDR, and as a result of which we had suffered losses, in the course of the years, totalling more than 30,000 million marks.

"Thus, more favourable conditions were provided for a better and more consistent utilisation of the economic laws of socialism in all sectors of the national economy, including agriculture, and for putting a stop to the violation of these economic laws."

But although the revanchist forces in West Germany suffered a setback after the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, they did not give up hope of reclaiming their lost territories and turned their attention to the idea of striking a blow through Czechoslovakia. The West German banks and big trusts began to dream of regaining what they had once stolen with Hitler's help. The Deutsche Bank speculated on the possibility of taking back the enterprises once owned by the former Reichswerke Herman Goering AG; and the three successors to the IG Farben Trust yearned for the important chemical works they had taken over in the wake of the German invasion of 1939. At the same time, the German nobility began to think of re-possessing the vast lands they had once owned in Czechoslovakia.

Karl Blessing of the West German Bundesbank began to prepare the way with a careful investigation of the industrial and banking systems in Prague, while Hans Martin Schleyer of the West German Employers' Association (a senior official of the Central Industrialists' Association in nazi-occupied Prague) presented "plans for the transformation of the Czechoslovak economy" to influential circles in West Germany. At the Same time, Colonel Trentzsch, commander of a West German tank brigade stationed on the Czechoslovak border, with previous experience as head of the Department for General Psychological Warfare in the Bonn Defence Ministry during the counter-revolution in Hungary in 1956, spent a "holiday" in Czechoslovakia during the first half of 1968, investigating the possibilities of operating with military forces.

Speaking to a West German television audience on the 30th March 1968, Professor Klaus Mehnert, expert anti-communist and leading nazi agent under Hitler, re- marked:
"If Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries move towards social democracy, there is no doubt that it will be easier for us to speak with a social democratic Czechoslovakia, even if it remains nominally communist."

With this end in view, a meeting of the so-called Preparatory Committee for the Re-establishment of Czech social democracy was held on the 21st June when J. Ziska stressed that a favourable situation for depriving the communists of power had arisen in Czechoslovakia. The bankers and industrialists did not under-estimate the decisive role of social democracy in their plans. Said the US News & World Report:

"If the anti-socialist forces were to succeed in carrying out their plans, Czechoslovakia would be transformed into a corridor through which Western troops could reach the threshold of Russia."

By the time the issue of US News & World Report carrying the above quotation appeared in print on the 2nd September 1968, however, the imperialists had been, rudely awakened from their dream of establishing a NATO base in Prague; for on the 21st August, the troops of five socialist countries of the Warsaw Pact had marched into Czechoslovakia and thwarted their plans. In this timely operation, the troops of the German Democratic Republic had played an important part.

The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, and the action of the Warsaw Pact powers in Czechoslovakia in 1968 will go down in history as the two events that saved Europe from becoming the centre of a third world war. From then on, detente and peaceful co-existence became possibilities, in spite of the protestations of the maniac minorities in West Germany and in the USA, who still thought in terms of solving their economic problems through nuclear warfare.

Building the wall

Reinhold Huhn killed defending the border in 1962
GDR soldier Reinhold Huhn killed defending the wall in 1962

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