Is the national identity overrated

Current history: Europe versus national identity

"Without France and Germany finding each other, without France overcoming its distrust of the Germans, the prerequisites for European unification are missing. The road to Franco-German unification leads across the Saar."

Hoffmann, who had returned to the Saar after 10 years in exile, consistently pursued the European idea. "The goal was Europe" is how he later wrote his biography.

"Anyone who no longer believes in the power of good and in the value of the supranational cannot understand European politics. Anyone who believes in Europe knows that there are no longer any national borders in this reorganized Europe, only landscape borders. which result primarily from the cultural idiosyncrasies that we have never revealed and will never reveal. "

Hoffmann was convinced that the Saar, as a constant bone of contention between Germany and France, would only have a chance of peaceful development if it succeeded in implementing a new European order that was no longer shaped by nation states. Peter Scholl-Latour was press spokesman for the Hoffmann government from 54 to 56.

"He saw the Saarland in a key position. At that time he did not consider joining France. He was appointed by the French to introduce real autonomy here. Then the European development came and it suited him extremely well."

It was also the Christian social politician who immediately after the war attempted to bring this idea closer to the French occupying power. Franz Schlehofer, the only living member of the Hoffmann cabinet.

"It was a close-war vision, today one would say utopia. You have to see the conditions under which everything came about back then and if you then had a conception of a federal state of Europe with a federalist order, then that was also for us young people like a utopia for peace. "

For the French, however, the focus was not initially on the vision, but on their need for security. In 1946 the French occupying power separated the Saar area from the competence of the Allied Control Council and established a customs border with the rest of Germany. The Saarland was given a constitution that did not differ significantly from the state constitutions of the other federal states. With one exception: the preamble. Franz Schlehofer.

"That was the central question of the Saarland, because in this preamble it was stipulated: The economic connection to France and, as a consequence, the political separation from the German fatherland. That initially triggered a shock."

The internal independence of the Saar was accepted as a lesser evil, so to speak. As before, the politicians on the Saar feared that those political forces who wanted to annex the Saar area could prevail in France. From an economic point of view, the connection to France was the more sensible solution anyway. The depressed Saarland economy recovered very quickly. The population benefited from the French range of goods. Peter Scholl-Latour

"The Saarlanders were far better off than the people in the rest of Germany. First came the Saar franc, then the French franc, then the university was founded, then the school for arts and crafts was founded, the theater. There was something going on here."

Together with the then French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, the Saarland coalition government consisting of the Christian People's Party and the Social Democratic Party of Saarland operated the expansion of statehood. With the associated insignia: flag and anthem. The Saarland song, which originated in the 20s, experienced its renaissance.

A visible sign of statehood was the Saar's participation in the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952 and qualification for the World Cup two years later in Bern.

Political Bonn was annoyed when the Saar was accepted as an associate member of the Council of Europe in 1950, at the same time as the Federal Republic. In the same year, the Franco-Saarland conventions were also signed.

Bonn feared a fait accompli as a result of the Saar's contractual ties to France. In principle, it was of the opinion that the reorganization of the Saarland situation without the participation of the Federal Republic of Germany violated international law. Klaus Altmeyer, at that time a member of the CDU, which was operating illegally in Saarland.

"With the help of the constitution, the government and the composition of the Landtag 47 and also in 1952, France had all the checkpoints here on the Saar firmly in hand. The Federal Republic could only refer to the peace treaty reservation and to cultural and historical considerations that there was one There is a population that is German, but cannot express itself freely. "

Those parties that did not act on the basis of the Saarland constitution were not allowed in the Saar, at least temporarily. Those who neither professed economic unity with France nor accepted Saarland statehood were not allowed to express themselves freely. It hit the German CDU as well as the SPD and the Liberals. Franz Schlehofer

"The fact that they are not permitted can initially be justified objectively from the construction of an independent state. There is no state that allows public discussions about the fact that it would give up on itself, that does not exist."

In the opinion of the historian Rainer Hudemann, the supposedly prevailing lack of freedom on the Saar is now greatly overrated.

"As far as it ruled, there are structures of the time that were not much different in Adenauer Germany. All possible parties have been banned, most recently the KPD in 1956. The Adenauer-Deutsuchland was not a democratic Germany in today's sense controls the party landscape. These are tendencies of the 1950s and one must not isolate the Saarland from its surroundings. "

The suspicion with which France viewed developments on the Saar was - as Franz Schlehofer interprets it today - the main reason why Hofmann, who was himself a journalist, restricted freedom of expression.

"The French's sensitivity to security from the Germans was so pronounced that Adenauer himself repeatedly pointed out that he was prepared to do a lot so that the French would get the feeling of security from the Germans that they feared if Here it is now possible to act publicly against this development, so that the politicians in France will react differently. "

The question remains whether it was wise to enforce the ban on pro-German parties. Because after their attempt to torpedo the state elections in 1952 had failed, the situation for the Hoffmann government had eased. Only 25 percent of voters followed their request to hold the elections

boycott. For Federal Chancellor Adenauer - according to Klaus Altmeyer - this was the turning point in the tense relationship with the Hoffmann government, which was considered separatist in Bonn.

"From that point on, Adenauer said that I didn't want to have anything to do with the German opposition groups in the Saar area and that I was instructed to make contact with Hoffmann."

The reconciliation with France was essential for Adenauer's westward policy. In 1950 he spontaneously agreed to the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman's plan to establish a European coal and steel community. Production should be placed under the supervision of a supranational authority. Trouble with the Saar therefore ran counter to Adenauer's European interests. Rainer Hudemann.

"The Saarland was the decisive stumbling block in the Franco-German rapprochement. And because the Franco-German rapprochement has been the decisive engine for European integration since the Schuman Plan in 1950, it is a stumbling block not only for the Federal Republic and France, but for European integration as a whole. "

After many setbacks, Adenauer and Mendès-France finally agreed on a Saar statute. It was signed in Paris on October 23, 54. It was part of the Paris Treaties, which, in addition to the end of the occupation regime, also made German rearmament possible and the Federal Republic's membership in NATO. For Adenauer, the Europeanization of the Saar was the price for reconciliation with France.

"In Paris we gave the German-French relations a concrete basis for a happy further development. Trust should take the place of mistrust. Never again should the two peoples tear each other apart in senseless wars. Reconciliation between the two peoples will bring inner peace to Europe give. "

The Saarland state government should continue to be allowed to act autonomously in the interior. The foreign policy representation of the Saar, on the other hand, should be carried out by a European Commissioner. The economic interests of France were taken into account in the statute by maintaining economic ties with France. However, it should be supplemented by the expansion of economic relations with the Federal Republic. Actually, Adenauer was too French for this agreement. Against the background of the overriding European and international interests of the Federal Republic, however, he considered them to be justifiable.

"We have reached - I believe - a useful compromise, any good German can represent it. Political freedom on the Saar will be restored. The Saar people themselves have the last word. Now and later in the peace treaty, which will make a final settlement should. "

Inwardly, the agreement for Chancellor Adenauer was provided with considerable explosive power. For the FDP co-ruling in Bonn, the Saar Statute was nothing other than the cession of the Saar to France. The chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, Thomas Dehler, criticized the Saar Statute as a "factual surrender" that was embellished with the term Europeanization. Dehler in a Bundestag debate in early 55.

"We are strictly against any Europeanization, we are strictly against any referendum, we are ready to do whatever is possible economically."

Adenauer's real objective remained opaque. Did he actually want to reveal the Saar or did he rely on a political change in the Saar with the help of the statute. The historian Armin Heinen believes both are possible.

"It's really interesting that in his memories he talks about always playing a double game. He didn't have any preferences in that sense. The decisive preference was to settle with France, so he had to have a policy of support for the statute It was very clear. But if the Saarlanders voted differently afterwards, then that was also a good option for him. That was his policy, always ambivalent, so to speak. "

In the summer of 55, the pro-German parties on the Saar joined together to form the so-called Heimatbund, after freedom of the press and freedom of assembly had been restored. These freedoms could be traced back directly to the Franco-German Saar Agreement. But while the Heimatbund parties, including the CDU, opposed the official Adenauer line against the statute, the Chancellor called on the Saarland population six weeks before the referendum to agree to the agreement.

"I understand that she no longer wants the Hoffmann government. But the way to get to another government is precisely to accept this statute and then in the subsequent state election to elect a state parliament whose majority is directed against the Hoffmann government If you do that, then you are protecting European interests at the same time, which cannot tolerate another trouble spot between Germany and France. "

By today's standards, the election campaign went completely out of hand. Franz Schlehofer.

"Evening after evening with water cannons, with insults, it was horrific. That was verbally so personal, so aggressive, you can no longer really imagine it on the street."

The verbal derailments were primarily directed against the protagonist of the Saarland Sonderweg, against Johannes Hoffmann.

"The fat man has to go ..."

The pro-German parties stirred up the emotions against the Christian social politician. In their eyes he was a separatist and traitor to the country. The first stanza of the Germany song was just as much a part of the repertoire of the supporters of the Heimatbund as the retexted song of the miners. The Steigerlied had already reflected nationalist sentiments in the vote on annexation to Nazi Germany in 1935.

"The Saar is German, German forever ...."

During the election campaign, Hoffmann warned of the nationalist wave that had hit the country in the last three months before the vote.

"These tones, which we have heard in the last 14 days, arouse bad memories and fearful premonitions in the world. This language, which the" no "people have spoken so far, is not the best German."

But the appeal for moderation died down. According to the historian Gerhard Paul, the displeasure of those social forces that had been excluded from participating in power for 10 years erupted during the referendum campaign. The Heimatbund parties succeeded - according to Paul - in a late revenge. The struggle against the Saar Statute turned into a general reckoning with the recent past of the Saar state and the émigré elites that supported it.

"We stay German, we stay German ...."

The enthusiasm for Europe of the people had already suffered a severe setback a year before the Saar vote. The French National Assembly rejected the European Defense Community at the end of August 54. France was not ready to forego sovereign rights in defense policy. For enthusiastic Europeans like Arno Krause, who headed the European Union on the Saar at the beginning of the 1950s, a bitter blow.

"This has taken a deep leap into enthusiasm for Europe. Everyone said, yes, if the French don't want to, what does that actually mean for Europe. And since I was also a member of the Federal Committee of European Federalists at European level, I can tell you there was a deep dejection. "

A return to nation-state structures began. A development that was discussed in the political circles on the Saar as well as the changed interests of France. Franz Schlehofer.

"The motive of Mendès - France was basically to consider how the German economic potential can help us to help in an extreme situation that arose from the colonial situation. I go so far as to say: With Mendès - France the French had given up their special Saar policy. "

The attention of the French governments, which changed frequently during this period, was directed to other sources of fire. In the colonies, in Algeria and Indochina, the Grand Nation waged war that cost money. In addition, the French economy stuttered. The Saarland population also felt this. In the Federal Republic, however, the economic miracle had started. Peter Scholl - Latour.

"The Federal Republic of Germany was booming at the time and France was in the middle of the Algerian war, and the franc went down, so that people carried their money to Kaiserslautern in the bank. The economic factors played an important role."

On October 23, 55, 67.2 percent of Saarland residents decided against a European identity, which the majority of the time was inconceivable. Armin Heinen.

"Ultimately, the Europe of the fatherlands prevailed. It is a difficult area of ​​compromise. And Johannes Hoffmann wanted to implement something into this system that would have followed a completely different logic. In this respect, my thesis would be the Saarlanders very wisely because they agreed Have facilitated the European unification process, at the level of the Europe of the Fatherlands, with two-thirds in favor of no. "

Through the vote and the "small reunification" that followed, the Saar finally lost its status as a bargaining chip, as a means to an end. On January 1, 1957, the Saar returned to the federal system of the Federal Republic. A year and a half later, the economic reorganization was also carried out.