The decisive problem of our time is that of relations with the totalitarian Soviet system. Despite all the astonishing results that have been achieved, not only in western Germany but in other European countries during recent years, the quite understandable disposition of a large part of the western world to be concerned with its own anxieties and to devote considerable energy to the restoration of its own conditions cannot dispose of the fact that there can be no peace in the world so long as the Soviet problem is not solved. Today the Soviets stand in the heart of Europe; Lubeck and Hamburg, as well as Kassel and Frankfurt-on-Main, lie in a sense at their gates; the bounds between the two worlds run along the Elbe in Germany, the geographical center of Europe; and countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania are under the domination of a foreign power which is never prepared to give up its ultimate goal. And all these facts show that there can be no serious peace so long as they endure.
They cannot endure, because the people living under the Soviet yoke will not regard them as a lasting solution. They could only endure if the western world were to compound with them. But the western world cannot, and dare not, compound with these conditions. It must clearly recognize that this enemy will never abandon his goal, and by his very nature cannot renounce his conquests, still less his aim to incorporate those countries not yet under his subjection.
Given this situation, which even today is not clearly realized by many millions of the western peoples, it is of decisive importance whether we can keep the way open to the subjected peoples, and also find a way to the peoples who are suffering most of all under the Soviet yoke. I mean the peoples of the Soviet Union, and above all the Russians themselves. More than any other place, Berlin has drunk the bitter cup of Soviet occupation to the dregs, and it is by no means fortuitous that it is in Berlin that the point has been made most persistently and urgently that our spiritual and political dispute is not with the Russian people but with the Soviet system. Again and again, we in Berlin have stressed that we have no hatred and no aversion for the Russian people, whose tremendous cultural achievements we all know and recognize, but that we wish to live and could live in true friendship with that nation.
In the present historical conditions we are confronted with an unprecedented phenomenon. I refer to the fact that we are witnessing an emigration from Soviet Russia of people who have never consciously experienced any other but the Soviet regime. In all the former periods of world history, emigrants have regularly carried with them memories of the past. When they were compelled to leave their native land they took with them the memory of what they regarded as a better past, the memory of values in which they believed and which they considered it their duty to defend, even in emigration. This is true not only of emigrants from Germany. All through history, every emigration has had this traditional backward look. But now we find that 'Soviet men', if we may use those dreadful words, are essentially cutting themselves off from the system under which they have grown up, from a system whose horrible and profoundly inhuman nature they have been forced to recognize often against their will, and only after a long inward struggle.
Today we see that the identification of all Germans with National Socialism, and the consequent demand for 'unconditional surrender', is one of the mistakes for which all of us, victors and vanquished, must alike pay heavily. It has taken time for this error to be men-tally overcome, and meanwhile tensions have been engendered which it would have been better to avoid. This serious political and psychological error must never be repeated on any future occasion. The Russian people and all the other peoples suffering under the Soviet yoke cannot and must not be made responsible for their regime.
One of the most important tasks of the present time is to develop the western world's understanding of the internal struggle and stress of relations inside Soviet Russia. We must work for realization of the fact that often men who carry Soviet passports are even compelled to become members of the Soviet Communist Party; and we must work for understanding of the reason why such men cannot be made politically and morally responsible for the regime under which they are themselves suffering.
Major Klimov's book is an unusually valuable contribution to the very difficult problem of understanding what is going on inside Soviet Russia. He gives a frequently dramatic description of his own process of development, and of his very rich experience and observation, which should be studied by all who have the future of the West at heart. Russia's internal development during the war, the concessions made by the Stalin regime to the natural and inevitable patriotic feelings of the Russians who were called upon to defend, and did defend, their country against an enemy conqueror, but who hoped that something new would emerge out of their very defense, and then the monstrous post-war reaction, provide a key to an understanding of all that is happening in that country. His story shows the profound weaknesses of the regime, it reveals how responsive the Russians will be if the western world becomes convinced that our quarrel is not with Russia as such, but with the Soviet regime.
In our own German history we have experienced something similar on a small scale. After the “élan” of the war for freedom of 1813 there was a reaction which made genuine freedom, and with it a genuine unification of Germany, historically impossible. We must get out of the habit of regarding this dispute as in the nature of a quarrel between East and West, or even between Germans and Russians. In Germany especially, but, unfortunately, not only in Germany, all old-style politicians are still inclined to think in categories derived from the past. They do not realize that the true realities of life are the hidden forces and processes at work within the people.
They fail to realize that in our own fight for freedom our strongest allies are to be found in the Russian people themselves: people who are no less, and possibly even more, freedom-loving than those who are so quick to turn up their noses at the alleged and actual cultural backwardness of the East. On a former occasion, in a statement on German-Russian friendship, I said that I still hoped to have another opportunity to eat 'kasha' with a Russian peasant in his hut. Perhaps those who cannot understand the depth of this longing, since they do not know Russia, will get some understanding of what I had in mind when they read Klimov's dramatic description of a highly placed Russian Party-general's visit to his peasant father's home.
For those who can read and understand, Klimov's book gives an unequivocal answer to the question, continually being asked how we are to solve the apparently insoluble problem of dealing with the Soviets. The problem will be solved if all of us, freed from the domination of past power-conceptions, realize that the peoples themselves must be liberated; it will be solved when the peoples realize that their own internal freedom will only be secure again when the freedom of all peoples is secure. Klimov's book reveals what profound possibilities there are of a solution on the lines of freedom in Russia.
So it is a message of hope for us all. But it is necessary, too, for the world to understand how difficult, indeed, practically insoluble, is this task for any one people, if it has to live under such a satanic regime as the present Soviet regime. Klimov reveals so impressively the dreadful con-sequences of this regime, with its destruction of all human and natural inclinations and associations, that it is to be hoped the nonsensical idea which millions still hold, that the Russians as such cannot be trusted and that they are responsible for the regime under which they are suffering, will be abolished.
There are still only a few who realize that we must win the genuine friendship of the Russian people. That realization is more present in the minds of those who are professionally occupied with the question. It must be our task to bring it home to everybody. Out of it a force of explosive effect can develop. No iron curtain, no terror measures adopted by the Soviet regime, will be able to hinder the long-distance effect within Russia of an inner change in the western world's attitude to that country. In this direction we can forge weapons more effective than tanks, grenades, and atom bombs. In this direction we can forge weapons that will free the world without resort to bloodshed. Our real task is to gather around us men who, like Klimov, have gone through the purgatory of their regime and have retained intact an extraordinary strength of will and a genuine love of truth. I hope that this book will do even more than descriptions by foreign observers to help in shaping our determination to free this world, and with it the whole world too.
Burgomaster of Berlin.
Aschau (Cheimgau), 21 August 1951.