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World War, 1939-1945; Letter writing; United States. Army
Davis introduces the essay "A Look at Ingolstadt" by Runte. A copy of the essay follows.
T/5 Robert Davis 18107121
Milfor Dat G-237, Co. F, 3rd MGR
% Pm. N.Y. N.Y.
article on Ingolstadt
U.S. ARMY POSTAL SERVICE A.P.O
227 OCT 10 1945
Mrs. R. L. Davis
25 Sept 45
This is a view on Politics that Runte wrote at Capt. Norins request. I translated it. He does not like the locals very well, as you can see. And the damn people are just like he says; they have been so degraded by 12 years of Nazional Socialism that to trust them with politics would be turning loose “elephants in a China Shop.”
P.S. Tomorrow night we will have a big party: Keller Brady and I + the Runte’s + Sommer to wish Brady a good time. He leaves the 28th for 7 days furlough in England.
A LOOK AT INGOLSTADT, GERMANY
There is not much left of the Bavaria of large breweries and strong beer. Memorials and worthy art monuments were also victims of the war. Also, the fact that Bavaria had the “Capital City of the Movement” (a distinction disliked by many Bavarians) has been easily and happily forgotten. These are things with the disappearance of which a person must more or less content himself. Whether they will reappear, or whether substitutes will take their place, time will tell. What is left of Bavaria, is the Bavarian, the landscape (not much damaged by the war), the country itself, rich and lavish in resources, and the old Bavarian hatred for anything that is not Bavarian.
In Bavaria is Ingolstadt, the ancient fortress, of which its inhabitants assert the Americans were the first ones ever to capture. In this town, into which the habitants crowd themselves more than ever (due to its undamaged condition and the opportunities it offers as a new home) Bavarian life is manifesting itself in many ways. The old way of life seeks to re-establish itself, and everything new, arising from the circumstance of a lost war, is regarded with traditional Bavarian suspicion, and weighed in the balance for acceptance or rejection. Unpleasant measures are swallowed in bad grace, and anything susceptible of criticism is ripped into the smallest atoms, resulting in a local perfection of the fine art of criticism.
In order to understand the nature of Ingolstadt, it is important to know that the town in Catholic. The inhabitants enjoy, however, a singular form of Catholicism. It is a form that is much more tolerant and patient than that which is found in neighboring Frankish Eichstatt. The inhabitants of Ingolstadt, for example, understand sinning, guards himself from it as long as possible, but is conscious that when he commits it, a clement Priest with a smiling “Absolvo te” will strike the sins from life’s Black Register. The basic think-ing of the Ingolstädters’ is so based on this line of education, that if these people, who in the last twelve years were not only better educated, but even further mentally ruined, received the opportunity to play politics, there are very few reasonable enough to be able to engage in such an activity, or who have the needed intelligence to be able to accomplish anything practical in this field so dangerous for Bavarians. Also to be considered is the fact of the lost war, and the many disappointments suffered due to their philosbyhy of life (Weltanschauung) and NSDAP membership. If on one hand the very vague local National Socialism shook the inhabitants upside down, on the other hand it created the situations that are the basic factors for the new arena of politics, upon the glassy surface of which the inexperienced wish to skate. Politics in Ingolstadt can not be taken seriously, for it could lead to no practical results. It will become increasingly serious, however, as men occupy themselves in politics tho know nothing about it, and who, thrashing about like Elephants in a China Shop, seek to destroy everything that does not suit them. The largest camp, the onetime Catholic Volkspartei, has had to give up a substantial part of its following to Leftist groups. It is primarily this group that, as mentioned earlier, was deceived and disappointed by the loss of the war, and seeks now to gratify its wishes among the very circles it once fought. If the inhabitants of Ingolstadt were not awakened by the war, (and there are too few reminders that the was really lost), at least they were made more cautious, so that now they regard their surroundings with new eyes. The purely catholic community of interest excuses their dead with the incapacity of the leaders, and those who were Nazis come limping repentantly into the camp of the opposition. These Nazis hope to find refuge in one of two camps; either the catholic, or the Social Democratic or Communist. The last named group, however, regards them suspiciously, and only accepts those whom it can regard as genuinely reformed in sentiment. In the Catholic camp a greater tolerance prevails, and the sins of the Nazis are regarded all too lightly, especially if the prodigals return with protestations of a religious rebirth. At the moment, this political situation can best be compared to a bubbling witbhes’ cauldron, where no one knows properly what will happen, or what he wants. The people are as if they have been awakened from a stupefaction, and after rejoicing at their new found life, begin to look around, each to his own tastes and temperment, for opportunities to sow political wild oats. To bring some kind of order to this political chaos, the few reasonable men propose to stand aloof, and let the things gradually ripen for themselves. They understand, that it is purposeless to have politics in the old form, and that this new politics can neither serve as a profession or as an embodiment of a philosophy (Weltanschauung). In the event that these things must be come to grips with at once, then this task, imposed by necessity, should not be other than an opportunity for each man to affiliate politically according to his lights, and to shape for himself a political life on as democratic a basis as possible. On this basis, reflective and informed men propose to group all those together who have the earnest desire to perform reconstruction work in a democratic State. They understand, that in these days it is completely out of place to play communist, social democratic, or catholic politics. Out of all these groups a Democratic Unity Block (demokratische Einheitsblock) should be built, which is so urgently necessary as a counterweight to the clerical circles of the Volkspartei. It is further recognised, that Communism as it was preached before 1933, is no longer possible in Germany. When, as a matter of fact, movements of this nature attempt to destroy the reconstruction work in Ingolstadt, there should be enough forces available to crush them and their sabotage. It will be more difficult, to handle the clerical circles and include them in such a community of interest. These circles believe themselves able to channalize their energies out of the glorious but long dead past. They hide themselves, however, too much in this past in order, putting it lightly, to effectually assert themselves, end putting it brutally, not to appear ridiculous. The influence of the Church on this healthy proposed line of action is, indeed, very strong, but in some groups of the priests and friars, and above all among the Franciscans, there are men clever enough to be able to put an emphatic halt to such a development. They are known themselves, very accurately, that the course of the Volksparteisof Bavaria is false, and can lead to the results such as those which made possible in the year 1933. As already remarked, the desire for political activity in fumbling ignorance has already manifested itself, and the actual practice thereof displays a wild mix-up. Only rational men, who can observe the situation for what it is, and who know with accuracy that conditionally well-off Ingolstadt should never be allowed to forget the facts of a lost war and the misery of the rest of Germany, only these men will be in the position to be able to lead politically. They must burden themselves with the responsibility, that the citizens, who have been so ruined, and politically speaking, rendered so insensitive by National Socialism, do not find in politics opportunities for hatred and calumny, but rather opportunities to live as free citizens of the State, who have no other duty except through their work to gain once more a place in the Community of Nations, which all desire once more for their Fatherland.
The confused and torn nature of political lifer manifests itself naturally, in all phases of city life. It also is apparent, in the personal life of the individual. From day to day in Ingolstadt, as in the rest of Germany, a progressive deterioration of character can be noted, which earlier would have been impossible. This decay flourishes most naturally in those places where it can flower without being punished or observed. It is not to be laid to the worker in a factory or industry, as much as to the independent merchant, who only sells his goods when he can swap them against food, or who, without a particle of consideration, greets inquiries with the statement that nothing is available, even though he has a store room full. To clean house in this respect, publicly, would be a rewarding work, because then each individual would make a mental reckoning of what he did, and would feel, that a determination to honest work and reconstruction had been re-established. In Ingolstadt, for example, this question has been solved in the following manner; only one store can sell the goods that the City procures. This merchant will operate under the strictest control, and it will be easy to prove that he sells these goods to consumers, who have been previously given purchase certificates from the City. It will follow from this, that other businesses can only remain open, when thy obtain foods for themselves, and sell these goods at the same price at which the City sells them. It will then be proved, which of these businesses will be able to remain open through energetic cooperation, and which business because of earlier Nazi activity will not be able to make purchases, or if it can get the goods, will not be able to disposed of them die to its reputation as a Nazi business. The closing of these businesses at this stage will be foregone conclusion both to the owner and to the purchaser. This measure will only be applauded by the people, as it will be recognized that an end has been made to profiteering, behind-the-scenes deals, and betrayal.
The fact that the City is in a good condition, and that so many buildings were spared by the war, permits the entry of large industries which will solve the unemployment problem with one stroke. When today, large firms, such as Telefunken, Auto-Union, and also clothing factories, show factories, and tanneries make exertions to move into Ingolstadt, that is a good sign for the future of the town. Everything will be done to facilitate the opening-up of such businesses.
The food situation can be described as very good. Interference in the food provisions on the part of the government will not be necessary, and will only be tolerated because of the necessity of furnishing other less wealthy kreises with food. The problem of dwellings is the most urgent of all. 7000 dwellings must be provided, for people whose present shelter will not be adequate for the cold winter. It is obvious, that all Nazis must be crowded together as closely as possible. In this respect the honest citizen has always been instructed to make as much dwelling space free as possible. To those whom this advice was unavailing, Wohnungsamt agents have entered the houses and let them know that even in Ingolstadt the time of independent citizenry is over, and that the call to work is for everybody, to help in the reconstruction and to make good the great injustice of which we are all guilty.
The time will come, when strong beer will flow from the Breweries of Ingolstadt, when no food Office will bother itself about the division of the fat cows, and no Wohnugskommisar will confiscate rooms. Bridges of iron and steel will span the river leading to other peoples and other nations, and this time thru’ which we are passing will only be a bad memory. The people will, however, I believe, think back with thankfulness that an American Military Government had made the work of reconstruction possible.