The Four Years' Plan
Extraordinary misconceptions of the nature and purpose of the four years' plan have become common in this country.
According to the Daily Express our Foreign Office have made it a condition of more friendly relations with Germany that the four years' plan be withdrawn, a most remarkable request as my readers will agree when I have explained what the plan is.
The economic position of Germany, with no gold reserves, heavily indebted abroad and with no colonies and foreign investments, has been dealt with already. Evidently under these circumstances she is thrown entirely on her own resources, and must find what possibilities of development are to be found within her own country.
It is also necessary for her to consider what would happen in case of an attack by the allied powers of Europe. In the last war she was starved out and had in addition a serious shortage of materials required for munitions. She must therefore be prepared for this eventuality.
These considerations are not absent from the councils of other Nations. We are taxing all users of petrol to enable the I.C.I. to make petrol from coal without a loss and are heavily subsidizing agriculture without, it must be admitted, much success.
It is also obvious that increased use of imported raw materials for purposes of manufacture will not do anything to relieve the situation. She must seek to utilize the land to its highest capacity to produce food, and in addition call upon the ingenuity of her chemists to utilize fully her two raw materials - coal and wood.
In order to carry out this task in a comprehensive manner Field Marshall Goering has been appointed as the head of the four years' plan and an organization has been created divided into six offices.
The Board for the production of raw materials has undertaken
The section dealing with agriculture has to aim at producing raw materials which are scarce in Germany wherever there is a possibility of agriculture being able to do so.
The cultivation of the Soya bean to obtain a supply of vegetable fats is an excellent example, the production of vegetable fibres and an increase in sheep farming to add to the supply of wool.
It is also the duty of this department to take all possible steps to increase the production of food.
In connection with food an interesting enquiry is to be made into the loss and deterioration of foodstuffs in transit and in the home.
The estimated loss from these two causes is put at 1,500 million marks a year. When we consider how careful and economical the German housewife is, the loss in this country is probably much greater. The savings in this direction involve correct storage of perishable foods and the collection and classification of refuse.
This household refuse is to be used for feeding pigs. Some 4,000 pigs are fed in this way on State property in Magdeburg. A similar arrangement prevails in other cities.
Powers are given in connection with the whole plan for the control of prices.
The difference between the position of Germany before the war and to-day is well illustrated by the following figures. Before the war she had 30,000 million marks invested abroad; to-day she has foreign debts of 13,000 million marks.
Her export trade has now improved sufficiently to show a surplus which is sufficient but no more than sufficient to pay the interest on her foreign debts. The aim of the whole plan is not self-sufficiency, which is both undesirable and impossible, but the making of an economically sound Germany which will lead to a natural development of her export and import trade.
The German Colonies
Before the war Germany possessed Tanganyika, Togoland, the Cameroons, Ruanda Urundi, S.W. Africa, Samoa, New Guinea, Nauru, and some small South Sea Islands. As part of the Treaty of Versailles these colonies were all taken from her, and handed over for administration under mandates for the League of Nations. Nothing was settled about their ultimate fate and involved legal discussions have arisen as to whether or not the League can return them to Germany. These discussions are merely obstructive as there can be no question that if we, for instance, asked the League to restore the mandated colonies, the League would do so.
The administration of Tanganyika and Togoland was transferred to Great Britain, Ruanda Urundi to Belgium, S.W. Africa to South Africa, the Cameroons to Great Britain and France, Samoa to New Zealand, Nauru to Australia and the smaller islands to Japan.
In order to queer the pitch, libellous attacks, which have no foundation in fact, have been made on the German administration of these colonies. They have had their Colonial wars with the natives but so have we, and if there is to be a general washing of dirty linen about Africa and digging into past records, no country which has possessions there will be left with a shred of reputation.
Impartial investigators have stated that their administration was efficient and humane, and in fact they were with the usual German thoroughness developing the natural resources of their colonies more rapidly than we do.
Some colonies were captured during the war, others handed over under the Peace Treaty.
President Wilson demanded that a free and open minded and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims should be made in the Peace Treaty, and it was relying on President Wilson's promise that the German Nation laid down its arms. The reason given for depriving her of all her colonies in the Treaty of Versailles was "the use to which these colonies were put as a base from which to prey on the commerce of the World, and Germany's inability to administer her colonies". The first part of this statement must refer to the fact that the Emden made a perfectly legitimate use of the colonies, when engaged in legitimate attacks carried out with the utmost humanity on the commerce of the allies, and the second part of the statement is absurd. Germany was developing her colonial possessions with harbours, roads and railways and laying the foundation for a prosperous future with an organized effort beyond that of other countries.
It has been argued that the total output of the German Colonies for export is so pitiful, amounting to about £ 6,000,000 a year, that the claim that it will have any real benefit on Germany's financial position is absurd.
There is more than one reply to that. As we have seen Germany's financial policy compelled on her by her foreign debts, and absence of a Gold reserve and large proportion of exports devoted to paying interest, makes it impossible for her to maintain her exchange and yet buy freely abroad. The return of her colonies would enable her to obtain more raw materials within her own system of exchange, and so retrieve her position as a customer in the world's market.
While the gross values are small the actual imports as can be seen by the following [data] cover the whole or a large part of Germany's demand for certain colonial products.
During the time she possessed the colonies she was engaged in development work, which has practically come to a standstill. It is impossible to judge of the final output of produce from these colonies by what was being obtained before the war. The experiment has yet to be tried of testing the capacity for output of these tropical and sub-tropical countries under an active programme and scientific administration and research.
The revolution made by the Dutch in the production of sugar in Java is a case in point. The Dutch, after a prolonged research, have produced a sugar cane suitable for Java with three times the yield of any other sugar cane. We and France have neglected systematic scientific research on the possibilities of our colonies or conducted it on no systematic plan with grossly inadequate funds. We may be sure that this will not be the German policy.
It is obvious from my account of the present monopoly of raw materials that it is impossible to refuse all consideration to Germany with its large growing and vigorous population in one small area in Europe. Far from denying her limited demands for the return of her former colonies, which while assisting her commercially will not give an outlet to her population, we should strive within our vast Empire to give her other opportunities.
We have on the one hand a vast undeveloped Empire, and Germany a vigorous and growing population. If we could persuade our foreign office to cease carping at Germany, there are infinite possibilities between the two nations similar in blood, and closely allied in friendship, for developing the neglected and thinly populated British estate.
Germany has sprung from the war and the terrible Peace with a renewed vigour, strengthened by suffering, and like all vigorous people is increasing in population. We each have qualities which combined can give strength. Let us solve not only European problems but World problems together.
The German colonies produce a wide variety of foodstuffs and raw materials. The exports from Tanganyika in 1935 amounted to £ 3 - 4 millions sterling, consisting of coffee, cotton, sisal fibre, peanuts, rice and copra. South West Africa is a cattle country, but has also proved a good breeding ground for karakul sheep supplying the Persian lamb skins. There are also diamond deposits. The exports have therefore fluctuated considerably according to whether demands have been reduced or no. Her total exports in 1935 amounted to £ 2.5 millions sterling.
Ruanda Urundi exports hides, cotton, coffee and tin ore. £ 272,000.
The Cameroons produce cacao, palm kernels and palm oil. The total exports amounted in 1935 to £ 1.3 millions sterling. In the British section the cultivation of bananas on a large scale has rapidly increased owing to the enterprise of Germans who bought back their plantations after the war. In 1935 45,000 tons were exported.
Togo exports cacao, palm oil and palm nuts, and copra, the total exports amounting in 1935 to £ 490,000.
New Guinea exported copra and gold to the value of £ 2.3 millions in 1935. Samoa exports copra, the exports for 1935 being £ 127,000.
The island of Nauru contains many valuable phosphate deposits the export value of which in 1935 was £ 474,000.
The other small South Sea islands mandated to Japan also produce phosphates and the Japanese have introduced the cultivation of sugar. Total exports of the islands £ 1.1 million.
The total figure of the exports is not large but the actual amounts exported is in many cases, such as cacao, sufficient to supply the whole German demand. It is not a fair comparison to compare that total with the total of the whole of her export trade.
It must also be remembered that from 1914 to the present time no attempt has been made to develop their territory on scientific lines, and little or nothing done to make roads. The potential wealth of these colonies is enormous if they are developed on a basis of scientific research. This could be done by Germany and judging by past experience will never be done by us. The difference is between Great Britain with such a large garden that most of it grows weeds and it is hardly anywhere cultivated on scientific lines, and Germany with her small allotment to which she will apply intensive cultivation.
It would pay the British Empire to return German East Africa to Germany, as it would become a laboratory providing invaluable data for the cultivation of vast areas in the world with similar climatic conditions.
One of the most curious objections to returning the German colonies, is that all such colonies are a burden and an expense, and more trouble than they were worth. Then why, said Hitler, not allow us to relieve you of these burdens? The reply was strategic reasons, a reply which is meaningless with a German fleet one third the size of ours.
There will probably be difficulties in returning territories mandated to the Dominions, but I suggest as an experiment we return in the meantime German East Africa.
In considering the whole of the area of Africa including the Congo Basin and Tanganyika, it is apt to be forgotten that these vast areas were first under an International Committee in 1885, which still exists and last met in 1919. Among other regulations the region has to offer equal facilities of trade to all Nations. The meeting held in 1919 specially excluded Germany from the privilege but I am told it has never been enforced. Germany ought to be invited to become a member of the Commission and a meeting called to consider the whole question of the future of this area.