Students of Cologne University
In the course of the last week I questioned about 30 students of Cologne University; 20 young men between the ages of 20 and 26 and 10 girls between 19 and 24. Most of the young men had been soldiers. They came from the middle classes. The girls on the contrary were from well-to-do families. I talked to them quite freely and they had no idea I was going to make a report.
(1) Do you think the British are helping us?
With the exception of one girl the answer was a categoric "NO". On the contrary they were united in their opinion that the British were slowly starving the Germans, and would make them economically "kaputt". Many examples were given. The answers left nothing to be wished in regard to scorn, bitterness and opposition. The attitude of the exservice men was in no way different from the "stayed at homes". One had the impression that they were all honestly indignant and in many things reproached the occupation authorities with an unstraightforward attitude.
If in the future I should still wish to talk to them as a friend, I could not again put any such questions to them.
(2) Do you believe there is a World Food Crisis?
Fourteen young men and six girls said "YES". With the exception of three, they raised the point that in spite of the crisis Germany could be better fed if the world earnestly so willed it. They were all of the opinion that there still must be some food in the many lands of the earth with which Europe might easily be fed. If this however were not done, the reasons must be purely material ones, politics and disinterestedness turning the scales. It is, they said, a mockery that Europe should starve.
(3) Do you believe in the Veracity of the Press Reports?
I could obtain no clear answer to this question. In any case no one answered "YES". They generally assumed that the reports were correct but that the facts were distorted. Home politics were merely "jobbery" and "lust for power". Foreign politics to a large extent the same, the conferences were "jugglery and make-believe" and the whole business a more or less disgusting affair. That there should be no other than a Party Press was considered undemocratic and primitive, and nobody should be surprised if for that reason the students got sick and tired of the whole junk of party politics.
(4) What do you think of the Separation of the Rhineland and Ruhr
Four men and three girls were uncompromisingly against it, the majority were quite prepared for it under certain conditions. The Saar and Luxemburg had lived very well under French control. They certainly desired no "Buffer State" which would only be exploited and find itself used as a political shuttle-cock. Still a serious autonomous structure that could work and live, - that, - they would approve. They were not interested in Germany nor in the unification efforts of the Parties, that was only "Bluff and Speculation". These very students six months ago wouldn't hear of the French and were glad to be in the British Occupied Zone.