Return to Power: A Report on the New Germany

Return to Power: A Report on the New Germany

Return to Power: A Report on the New Germany

Return to Power: A Report on the New Germany

Excerpt

ON MAY 26, 1952, SEVERAL HUNDRED JOURNALISTS OF ALL NA- tions crowded into an austere room of what had once been a teachers' college on the bank of the river Rhine. The room was now the Upper Chamber of the West German parliament at Bonn -- a few miles from the historic Remagen bridge where little more than seven years ago Allied forces had swept across the Rhine to bring the war against Germany to its conclusion. Outside the building the rain was coming down in a steady grey drizzle in keeping with the dreary character of the country's provisional capital. Inside, the journalists were witnessing an act which no other event in Bonn's history could rival in importance -- except perhaps the birth of Beethoven. Seated at a table covered with a drab grey cloth, the Foreign Ministers of the United States, France, Great Britain and Western Germany were appending their signatures to one of the most unusual documents in all Europe's ravaged history. It was formally known under the uninspiring alternative titles of "The Contractual Agreements" and "The Bonn Conventions," by the West Germans as "The General Treaty," and by the Communists as the "General War Pact." On the same evening, the four ministers and their entourages left for Paris to sign the document's twin sister, the European Defense Community Treaty.

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