1st October 2006
On 7th June 1946, John Hynd, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the British Minister responsible for Germany, formally opened an exhibition in London called "Germany under Control."
The opening ceremony was held at the Dominion Theatre in Tottenham Court Road, in front of an invited audience of 3,000 people, including the mayors of the Boroughs of Greater London, sitting in the front row of the dress circle, wearing their full regalia, and wives, relations and friends of personnel serving in Germany.
Hynd's speech at the event provides an interesting overview of what the British hoped to achieve, one year after the end of the war in Europe; their aims, achievements, and challenges still to come; in summary how they hoped to win the peace, after winning the war.
This is what he said:
"It is not inappropriate, I think, that this exhibition "Germany under Control" should be opened to the pubic today. For six long dismal and dangerous years we have fought desperately and stolidly against - what? Against a menace, the menace that threatened to overwhelm us as it has already overwhelmed the whole of Western Europe, but a menace which was only dimly understood by many of our people.
In that struggle we prevailed. The thing that once threatened to destroy us now lies shattered at our feet, and tomorrow the whole country will be celebrating our victory and our liberation.
But this is the second time in thirty years that our peace has been shattered and our security threatened, and in the midst of next week's celebrations how many will be asking themselves if wars must always be?
We hope this exhibition will help in some little way to offer a glimpse of the reality of what our trials and struggles and sacrifices of the past six years have been for, and at the same time, show the work that is still being done and that still requires to be done if peace, security and prosperity are to be assured for our children.
For there is much still to be done. This time we must be sure. This time we must stay until we have finished the job.
The exhibition will no doubt give some indication of just how big that job is. It will show if only in miniature, but nevertheless graphically and effectively, the growth of the Nazi ideology. It will reproduce for you Germany under the rule of the Beast; her economic institutions destroyed; the voice of reason and humanity brutally suppressed wheresoever it sought to speak in that unhappy land; her children brutalised, as the sinister influences that had laid hold of her prepared to submerge, not only Germany, but the whole world, in dark misery.
You will see, too, the terrible price the people of Germany have paid for the mad ambitions of their rulers; the tangled mass of debris and destruction, and dazed, bewildered humanity that was once the Germany from which the boastings of Hitler and Goebbels used to din our ears and the vaunted Luftwaffe soared to bomb our towns and villages, now reduced to a scene of squalor and devastation unequalled in world history.
The plight of Germany is not, however, a matter we can ignore. It is a situation that involves not only the German People. but threatens Europe and the world unless it is controlled, with new tragedy, a tragedy of economic dislocation, with consequent disease and famine, and civil strife that might lead us again into another still more disastrous war; a situation that only wise, determined and courageous measures can now avert.
That, and no less, is the task we and our Allies have set ourselves. It is an enterprise of great magnitude and difficulty for which there is indeed no precedent in human history, but I think the exhibition will satisfy most people that it is a task which, despite its magnitude, is being carried our with no less credit by our men and women in Germany than was the military victory itself.
For the British Zone, with which the exhibition deals, represents a territory as large as England itself, with no Government, no local authorities, no established institutions - all these were Nazi and have fled or been destroyed; her industries wrecked, her transport in chaos, her food supplies exhausted. In this context our Military Government and the Control Commission have worked miracles, but miracles have still to be achieved before order is restored and the objective of the Potsdam Agreement, which is to create a democratic Germany that can take her place in the community of free peoples in a free and peaceful world, has been realised.
It is a costly business. Of that we are only too aware. But we are aware too, that peace is indivisible and that poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere.
Europe needs German coal; that means transport must be restored and the factories must commence producing the mining equipment, locomotives and trucks; that means agriculture must be re-organised to produce food to feed the miners and the railwaymen, and the factory workers; that means, in turn the production of fertilisers and farm machinery and implements. But Man cannot live by bread alone, and the workers needs shelter and clothing and cooking utensils if they are to continue working. The organisation and administration of these activities requires public administration to replace the discredited Nazi institutions, and therefore the encouragement of democratic activities, political parties and trade unions must be part of our task. All that has to be achieved in circumstances of unimaginable difficulty, and our men are doing it.
We have to destroy the Nazi war industry and war potential. That means steel, and many of the products upon which Germany once depended for the exports with which to pay for her imported food. But if her steel production is to be reduced for security reasons, we must help to create a new import/export basis for her economy, for until we do there is no payment for the food that must be supplied to prevent mass starvation and the consequent destruction of all our hopes of security and peace.
It is therefore, in the beginning a costly job, but investment for peace is better, and infinitely cheaper than investment for war, and the work we are doing is no less than a great, perhaps final, effort to establish conditions in which the world may be freed from the menace of war forever.
In the light of this, I hope and believe that our exhibition will not only provide a fund of interest and instruction to our people, who have fought, suffered and triumphed in the big struggle through which we have passed since 1939, but will enable them to appreciate why and how we are now proceeding to finish the job.
(Hynd's speech is in the National Archives, FO 945/533)