762A.00/12–552: Telegram

No. 161
The United States High Commissioner for Germany (Donnelly) to the Department of State

secret

2596. In recent weeks considerable speculation has occurred among political observers and press correspondents here concerning the dangers of a serious swing to the right in Germany. In our eyes dangers extreme Nazi type manifestations with fanatical devotion to totalitarian creed is unlikely unless Germany enters a severe economic depression. Extremists of “Frei Korps Deutschland” type are small in number and are influential only in depressed areas and regions in northwest where the full impact of catastrophic collapse of Nazism not fully felt. Most significant politiual trend showing growing rightist influence is reflected in increasing power of extremists in FDP, DP, and “Gesamtdeutsche Block” (formerly BHE).

Present success of extremists in recent local elections not impressive. Returns in NRW and Rhineland–Palatinate showed no striking gains for rightist parties. In Lower Saxony, former SRP vote presumably went to FDP, BHE, and DP, but joint lists make precise analysis very difficult. In any case, no striking increase in total rightist vote discernable. Establishment of a new party of the right composed of elements of FDP, DP, and splinter right wing parties has been frequently discussed, but since this move would probably result in splitting of the Fed parties, it now seems unlikely that it will take place before the 1953 Bundestag elections.

These parties are split between moderate and aggressive wings, altho in case of GDB the more extreme wing is clearly preponderant. The GDB, though making overt attempt to appeal to ex-Nazis, may gain only limited success in long run, since it is considered by most Germans as refugee organization despite its efforts to prove otherwise. GDB, however, is expected to win from fifteen to thirty seats in next Bundestag election depending largely on type of election law finally enacted.

In FDP and DP national parties there is now a rough balance between moderates and extremists who wish to go all out to capture ex-Nazi vote. This balance in FDP shown clearly in Bad Ems Party Conf where extremists who dominated NRW and Hesse delegations unable, without running severe risk of splitting party, to force Fed Party to adopt “Deutche programme”, designed as platform to rally rightist groups. Similar development occurred in earlier DP Party [Page 391]day at Goslar where extremists withdrew in order to maintain party solidarity at least until 1953 elections only after they had ascertained that they had slim majority of votes among dels.

Both party conferences indicated growing strength over past year of extremists who support expanision of parties with little regard for principles as against moderates who are unwilling to abandon thesis that parties should be expression of definite political viewpoint and that members must accept these views, rather than become pure power bloc composed of the dissatisfied. Moderate claim that whole character of parties will be changed by all-out recruiting campaign because present party leaders would be unable to control new extremist elements. This is the crucial problem faced by these parties. In NRW and Hesse, the influence of young ex-Nazis in local party machine has increased in recent months. Leading figures in FDP extremist group like Von Rechenberg, Euler, and Middelhauve justify their policy on grounds that right radical groups can be most effectively controlled if they are incorporated in a constitutionally oriented conservative party. Otherwise, they argue, this large group of politically homeless individuals might follow an extremist demagogue of SRP type. However, increasing use of ex-Nazis in local organizations and growing reliance on sensational propaganda methods furnish disquieting evidence to support thesis of moderate FDP members.

Moderating influence may be exerted by industrialists influential in FDP and landed farmers in DP, both of which groups have stakes in society. Their interests and ambitions lead them to support European integration along conservative lines in hope of playing leading role in a United Europe.

Given good econ conditions, basic question of whether constructive conservative parties with relatively moderate program can continue in Germany will depend largely on role Germany will play in Europe and the world. Unless Ger dynamism is able to express itself constructively by participation in close European cooperation and in achieving an important place in world affairs, the more constructive pro-European German leaders will be discredited, and more extreme men will take their places. Finally, should be remembered that danger of extreme nationalism is not confined to parties of the right.

Donnelly