Despite not a single solitary soul on this Earth asking, the Wall Street Journal, on 2021-08-17 decided to bless the unwilling, the unknowing and the uninterested alike with an article entitled How the Berlin Wall Rose in a Single Night. The article primarily recapped the imperialist fairytale surrounding the construction and destruction of a certain iron and concrete barricade that marked the closing of the border between East Germany (henceforth known as the DDR, the German Democratic Republic) and West Germany (henceforth known as the Fourth Reich).
Perhaps inflammatory to the indoctrinated, as we are meant to believe Nazism and the members of the Nazi Party (8.5 million members strong in 19451) simply returned to the ether following the end of World War II--that's that--we can clap the dust from our hands and head home. This "logic," of course, falls apart with even the slightest bit of scrutiny.
8.5 million people joined the Nazi party for they agreed with the Nazi party, 18 million Wehrmacht soldiers did the bidding of the Nazi party for they agreed with the Nazi party, countless German citizens developed an immunity to the smell of burning flesh and terrified screams emanating from their local slave labor camp for they... are we coming to see a recurring theme? Are we to believe this is complicated? How infinite must the presumption of innocence for the icons of evil be?
Regardless of whether or not one chooses to recognize this clear and distinct pattern, it is wholly inarguable that so-called "West Germany,"— the Federal German Republic--was objectively governed by a higher concentration of Nazis at the levers of power than at any point during Hitler's reign. A 2016-published study commissioned by the contemporary German government itself laid bare that just in 1957, a mere four years prior to the building of the so-called "Berlin Wall," the Ministry of Justice had senior staff consisting of 77% "former" Nazis — again, this is a higher rate of Nazi party members in the Justice Ministry than occurred under Hitler. A separate study conducted by the Centre for Contemporary Historical Studies found that for two decades following WWII, the Fourth Reich's Interior Ministry was composed of "an average" of 54% "former" Nazis, the rate peaking at 2/3rds between 1956-61, this same study finds that 45% of the Interior Ministry in 1961 was composed specifically of "former" Nazis from the Sturmabteilung, also known as the SA: Hitler's personal militia.
It all stems from the Yalta conference where the US, UK and USSR came to an agreement about the logistics of dealing with Nazi-occupied areas. Germany would be divided into four zones where each of the armies and "France" would occupy a zone in Germany. The Allies stated goal was to disarm the Germany war machine, denazify Germany, carry out emergency relief measures for the distressed population and finally to set-up a "democratic" government in Germany.
In theory, while all zones aimed for Denazification, the way they went about it was vastly different. In the DDR, all the parties in the left simply united and ran under one ticket, Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED), which won handily in the election.
In the BRD, on the other hand, US required each political party to go through a prior approval from the US authorities before they were allowed to form. They also banned the communist party, which was the only party that had a constant record of fighting against the Nazi government. Richard M. Scammon, political scientist, and later a member of the Kennedy administration explained the problem eloquently “Interference by occupation authorities was not infrequent in the earliest days of German political activity, and many of these interferences seem on later examination to have been improper and arbitrary." For example, newspapers were banned for criticizing Wallstreet, while the communist party, the only party that had fought against the Nazis since the beginning was banned.
In fact, the US hadn't even authorized federal elections. Instead, the Basic Law was drafted by a group of stodgy technocrats who were both mistrustful of the people and also of themselves and built a cumbersome technocratic constitution that tried to avoid handing power to the people. In fact, after the first elections, the Nazis ended up winning and the US had to deal with a publicity mess.
Reinhard Gehlen2, for instance, the head of the head of Foreign Armies East, the military intelligence unit of the Third Reich on the Eastern Front from 1942-45 had been recruited in 1945 by the US military (along with many other members of the SS and SD) specifically to establish the Gehlen Organization as an arm of espionage against the Soviet Union3, an organization which under his command was closely affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency established a mere two years later4. The Gehlen Organization operated under the auspices of the US government from its official establishment in 1946 to 1956, at which point it was transferred to West Germany, forming the basis of what would become the entire Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), or Federal Intelligence Service, with Gehlen himself remaining at the helm until his retirement from the post in 1968.
A few months afterwards, in April of 1968, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the only federal distinction in the country was pinned on Gehlen by His Excellency, President Heinrich Lübke himself. Clearly nobody was interested in hiding or downplaying their association with this man or his pedigree.
We have a situation following WWII, wherein masses of Nazi party members, collaborators and sympathizers were spilling out of the territory now under control of an explicitly antifascist government, and into the territory of a government with an entire intelligence complex that is the indisputable brainchild of a “former” Nazi Lieutenant General of the Luftwaffe, while the number of "former" Nazis in the western government begins ballooning, that peaks in the few years prior to 1961 and then never quite reaches that level after "the Berlin Wall" is built, because two and two do in fact make four.
Perhaps this is the time to take a respite and remind our readers that the "Berlin Wall" was known to the people who built it with their own hands in mere days, as "Antifaschistischer Schutzwall" or the Antifascist Protection Rampart.
It was known on the... other side of the wall, as "the Wall of Shame"— a term coined by US ventriloquist dummy Willy Brandt--that naturally was not in reference to what the world should have felt for the continuation of fascism on the western side of the wall, but instead a comment the wall's restriction on the freedom of Nazis to go be with other Nazis and live under a government filled with Nazis in a society designed for Nazis.
One “former” Nazi in particular, Adolf Heusinger achieved numerous high distinctions under both the Third and Fourth Reich, serving as Operations Chief in the High Command of the German Army from 1939-1944, before being appointed briefly to Chief of the General Staff following his predecessor’s nervous breakdown, was allowed to rocket to the top of the Fourth Reich military command.
After the war he served as Military Advisor to Konrad Adenauer in 1950, being appointed (and promoted) to the rank of Lieutenant General of the Bundeswehr at its establishment on November 12, 1955, within two years would succeed fellow “former” Nazi Hans Speidel as the Bundeswehr's all-armed forces department in March of 1957 and in a mere 3 months was promoted full General and named the first Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, effectively becoming head of the entire military.
This man was subsequently appointed by the Western powers to serve as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee a mere four months prior to the establishment of the Antifascist Protection Rampart, at risk of putting too fine a point on it. The fascist threat did not mysteriously vanish from this Earth in 1945, instead merely being annexed by the Western powers — something the Eastern Bloc and USSR had to contend with in a very real way every day.
This Wall Street Journal article, somehow insipid in its insidiousness, opens with a simple paragraph that perfectly displays the sheer magnitude of uncritical ignorance required for embracing the reactionary anticommunist narratives that permeate the western world:
When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was one of the most thoroughly documented events in history. Each anniversary, TV networks replay footage of Germans dancing on the wall and hacking into it with hammers.
An alternative, and equally accurate way of saying this, is: "every November 9th the imperialist neoliberal hellscape that is Germany celebrates the anniversary of Kristallnacht by broadcasting footage of the savage breaking of the Antifascist Protection Rampart like pornography."
It sets the tone for everything that follows; the complete omission of the fascist reality of the Fourth Reich in the west and in the hilarious and baseless, sourceless imagery the author attempts to paint with nothing more than the energy of a man who read Animal Farm in high school and thus knows all there is to know about Communism and its history:
For many East Berliners, the previous Saturday evening had been the highlight of summer. It was the date of the annual children’s fair, and the streets were filled with people eating ice cream and watching fireworks. Meanwhile, in the People’s Army headquarters, the country’s most senior military commanders were gorging on a luxurious buffet of sausage, veal, smoked salmon and caviar.
Hark! During a cultural celebration, there were military commanders gorging themselves on some of the most basic German foods imaginable—we anxiously await the real bombshell to drop that they also ate sauerkraut with their bratwurst, schnitzel and gravlox—while all the children and their families ate ice cream and watched fireworks. The terror! Be afraid!
There are no sources cited for, nor photographs of, this moment though we may be forced to admit it happened simply because we cannot mentally conjure a more commonplace image than this. Perhaps the caviar was brought in as a treat, though your typical US chauvinist may be surprised to learn that salted fish eggs aren't so expensive when you aren't paying transatlantic shipping costs or the massive premiums required to generate a profit margin.
This same level of uncritical thought continues:
"Elsewhere in East Berlin, Walter Ulbricht, leader of East Germany, was hosting a garden party. It was out of character for him—he was a serious, friendless man, terrible at small talk—but tonight he’d invited the most senior government ministers to his woodland retreat. There was music and a Soviet comedy film played in the background, but it was awkward; almost no one knew why they were there. Eventually, Ulbricht directed his guests into a room and told them he was about to close the border between East and West Berlin."
We have an author, ostensibly an adult, throwing out commentary about the reportedly (we supposed? No sources cited) poor social skills of the DDR's head of state at the time and place where he's announcing an end to the freedom of fascist movement in the same year the Fourth Reich's Interior Ministry in the west was, as we established, 45% Sturmabteilung members. Not just any Nazis but the original paramilitary wing. But let's not mention that and instead talk about how Walter Ulbricht was bad at talking to people about the weather. As if there are no bigger problems at play here. And still the blithering goes on:
For years, Ulbricht had watched as East Germans had packed their bags and crossed the border, fed up with poor living conditions, censorship and the feared secret police, the Stasi. By the summer of 1961, East Germany had lost three million people, around a fifth of its population; there were towns without a single doctor or teacher. A 900-mile barbed-wire fence ran the length of East Germany; the unsealed border between East and West Berlin was where people crossed.
We witness a moment where if this author were not paid to disengage from meaningful thought, might have risked an epiphany. Poor living conditions for whom? Censorship for whom? Wait, you mean Nazis were scared of undercover Nazi hunters? Three million people knowingly fled to a government of Nazis. This isn't an indictment of the DDR — it underlines the nature of what is actually being dealt with. Towns were left without teachers because to be a teacher in the Third Reich, one was required to join the National Socialist Teachers League, or be a Nazi. Some allegedly chose to act in opposition to the Reich in their duties as teachers... perhaps these examples belonged to the GDR towns that did not lose every one of their teachers?
Does anyone need a refresher on the Third Reich, the Nazi party, doctors and the medical profession on the whole or does just reading those items in that order make one's skin sufficiently crawl. Elucidating this could be its own book let alone its own article. At this point it's more than safe to say the doctors that fled to the Fourth Reich simply knew where home was.
So Ulbricht proposed his plan. His Soviet commissars were initially appalled at the potential PR disaster: How could Moscow persuade the world of communism’s superiority if East Germany had to build a wall to stop people from escaping? Instead, their instructions, as recorded in letters held in the Russian Central Committee Archives, were surprising: If you want East Germans to stay, improve their lives. After all, the Soviet Union was beginning to reform, yet here was East Germany continuing down a Stalinist path
Ulbricht resisted, and East Germany continued to hemorrhage its youngest and brightest. Documents in the committee archives reveal monthly meetings between the East Germans and Soviets to discuss the exodus. Finally, Ulbricht asked the Soviet ambassador to pass along a message to Nikita Kruschev warning the Soviet leader that “collapse is inevitable.” A few weeks later, a message came back for Ulbricht: Close the border."
The author here continues down this path of simple unconnected dots. Calling the suggestion from the Central Committee in Russia to improve the lives of GDR citizens "surprising" and then herself seemingly confused that "build a wall between the GDR and the fascists in the west" was a response to that? The tacit admission that an iron barricade between you and the fascist horde would somehow lower your quality of life is an... interesting point to make.
To say nothing of the massive omission of history leading up to this. After going in search of the documents and transcripts that are mentioned though conveniently neither named nor properly cited, something was discovered utterly absent from this author's article: actual information.
McNab, Chris (2011). Hitler's Masterplan: The Essential Facts and Figures for Hitler's Third Reich. (pp. 22-23)
Richelson, Jeffrey T. (1995). A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century, pp. 233, 235