The political journalist

Photography: Theodora Layer

by Reinhard Appel

Anyone who rereads Schairer's editorial in the "STUTTGARTER ZEITUNG" from 1946 to 1952 (many of whom are still as readable today as they did then) will realize the caricature of this man with his pen for the political consciousness of the young German democracy the collapse of the Hitler Reich. Many citizens did not want to know anything about politics in the early post-war years and were skeptical, suspicious or hostile to attempts to reestablish a democratic form of government. The hunger and housing shortage, bleak future expectations, the bureaucratized denazification and the rule of the occupying power were not encouraging godparents. In order to save their fellow citizens from political resignation, men were needed who, through their word and behavior, could inspire confidence in a democratic community; who did not flinch before the authorities, whether they were the occupiers or the government commissioners; Men who renounced sermons and felt what burned people's nails.

Erich Schairer had these qualities to a great extent. He hated words and feared neither power nor mass. He felt like a lawyer to the little man and acted accordingly. In his language he was simple, clear and purposeful. He polemicized against the rulers as against the petty bourgeois. His idealistic trait, aiming for a better, more rational, more humane and occasionally utopian world, he controlled through skepticism and realism, through humor and sarcasm. He remained suspicious of moral preachers and do-gooders. He brought understanding and sympathy to the inadequacies of the all-too-human. His uncompromising anti-fascism was, of course, accompanied by a natural patriotic sentiment that was nevertheless cosmopolitan-oriented. His basic chord was socialist, but the variations that developed were a liberal composition. It would not be possible to press the Democrat and Republican Erich Schairer into a party-political template: this independent mind and completely undogmatic journalist is nowhere in the generally conventional sense. Who still loves schematic clues comes to him probably next, if he understands him as a left-liberal socialist.

This thoroughly political journalist, after the war first at the "Swabian Tagblatt" in Tübingen, was brought by Josef Eberle in early summer 1946 as co-editor of the "Stuttgarter Zeitung" and entrusted with the responsibility for the political part of the newspaper. He knew how to use the paper to develop a democratic institution that enjoyed equal respect and influence among the ruling and the governed. With the publisher triumvirate Eberle-Schairer-Maier the tenting had the reputation of a radical opposition paper beyond its narrower circulation. It was precisely this that prompted Schairer to give an example, after the unopposed period of the press, that the rights of the citizen to freedom of power, both great and small, can only be preserved where they are perceived and fearlessly defended.

Erich Schairer also devoted himself to this exemplary and, to a certain extent, educational task, to his editors, constantly encouraging editors to criticize where necessary and to praise where possible. Some examples are still vividly remembered. Dr. Schairer had used me from the first day at the newspaper as a political reporter and in this role, I had first to report on the US-appointed constitutional assembly, then on the 1946 for the first time freely elected state parliament of Württemberg-Baden, which also the later Federal President Theodor Heuss was a member of the Democratic People's Party (DVP). In a brilliant but hard-to-reproduce speech to the Diet, Heuss had made the budget proposal the then sensational proposal to give the former professional soldiers a pension. In view of the still widespread refugee misery, the distress and the debris due to the consequences of the war, the proposal did not seem very appropriate to the situation and at least so amazing that in my parliamentary report of the extensive speech I only noted the suggestion for the Wehrmacht pensions as particularly noteworthy. The result was a furious protest from Heuss with Schairer, but Schairer was not disturbed even by the former Minister of Education of the country (whom he knew, of course, from his time in Berlin). He let me see the minutes of the meeting, agreed with my report at a later date, and advised me never to be intimidated by high-ranking men.

On another occasion, in a report on a Diet meeting, I had noticed that although Minister of Food and Agriculture StoieSS had to refuse the population a further allocation of fat and meat brands, at the same time it had been possible for Members during the lunch break of the Diet (and journalists) without fat and meat brands serving an excellent meal. The Minister of Food, the President of the Landtag and the Members of Parliament found this report scandalous. The boss was told the outrage and the flower meant that he could not name a more reputable journalist for the state reporting. With such a request, the gentlemen at Schairer were at the wrong address. His answer was so clear that no one dared to shake my accreditation.

If you leaf through the editorials and glossaries, book reviews and travelogues of Erich Schairer today, then the man who collaborated with him after a few sentences, the man alive, who has decisively shaped the image and the tendency of the "Stuttgarter Zeitung" and its words always in accordance with what he thought. Everything was stunned. He was in direct contact with the reader, addressing him in some way personally in his articles, as if it were an individual letter. In addition to major foreign policy issues and democratic issues, he also devoted himself with preference to small local events and political issues of everyday life. He picked up the Besigheim wine barrels, railed against the nonsense of the platform barriers, glossed over the unimaginative nature of stamps, and mocked the emerging need for medals and decorations. He did not shy away from the polemic with other newspapers, but also promptly asked his own readers to look at journalists and to point out to the editors about defects and mistakes. On the 25. He celebrated November 1946, the Republican, whose grandfather had been an 48er, that the old German colors were enshrined in the constitution as the state colors of the state of Württemberg-Baden. He arranged a meeting with the editors on the roof of the tower house and solemnly hoisted the black-red-gold flag.

He fought uncompromisingly against the Nazis and against fascist thinking, but he rejected sweeping condemnations and fought against unjustified attacks from outside. Already on the 31. In December 1946, he wrote an editorial titled "The German Crime" with an essay by the educator and pacifist Friedrich Wilhelm Förster on the subject of "Moral Preludes of Peace with Germany", which was published in the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung". Förster warned the Allies to trust Germany and to include it in the circle of nations. Schairer accused Förster of a moralizing, Old Testament approach, refused to lump all Germans together with the Nazis, and pleaded for being merciful to the mere followers and the many others whose guilt was merely that they were still alive ,

Schairer devoted most of the leading articles, in addition to the south-western state topic, to the question of Germany. His theses still testify to his realism and his downright visionary power. On September 25, 1946, under the heading “Zwei Deutschland?” He wrote that it was incomprehensible to him, it “is almost a sign of political nonsense that there are still people here who are satisfied when between Anglo-Saxons and Russians somewhere differences occur. If there is one chance that a Germany, albeit a mutilated one, can escape the difficulties of the post-war period, that it will not lose peace after the war, it is the understanding between America and Russia. The sooner and the more firmly this comes about, the better for us. The longer it takes, or the less sincere and peaceful coexistence between the politically, economically and ideologically differently faced world powers turns out, the greater the risk that Germany will split into two halves that no longer understand each other and go different ways ... Peace between the great powers is the prerequisite for peace with Germany and in Germany. If that is secured, then this is only possible. "

Also in all later articles he came back again and again to his core thesis: "As long as the East-West opposition exists, all words of German unity are empty chatter." ("The Lost Unity", 22. 11. 1947.) Um Schairer sympathized with neutrality because Germany did not allow Germany to become the scene of a clash between America and Russia. After the "London Conference" of the Western powers of 1947, however, he openly advocated the formation of a West German Federal Republic and expressed the hope ("The London Conference", 17, 12, 1947) that the phrase "German unity now will probably disappear ". Already in May 1947 he had predicted that a halved Germany will become the experimental field of two opposing economic systems. Two years later, following the drafting of the Bonn Basic Law ("Federal Republic of Germany", 30, 4, 1949), Schairer stated that "the Federal Republic and the GDR could become the exhibition grounds of two systems in a bloodless competition in which both could show what they were capable of make money ".

Admittedly, Erich Schairer also made wrong decisions. So he thought it possible in October 1946 after the elections in Berlin and the former Soviet Zone for possible that the SPD and the SED merge and the bourgeois parties CDU and LPD form an opposition. In August 1948, he voiced his suspicions about the Marshall Plan, and saw the sole purpose of Americans wanting to secure a market in Europe. In one of his last editorials ("In the Zwickmühle", 16, 2, 1952) he dealt with the majority decision of the Bundestag for a German defense contribution and argued: "If the Americans the participation of the Federal Republic in the defense of Europe against a However, in view of the prevailing power relations, we will not be able to resist such a long-term desire. "The fact that he did not quite like the whole direction was, however, shown by the last sentence in which he spoke of the government of Adenauer Year (namely in the general election 1953) she will have to submit her foreign policy to a vote of the people. "It could be," Schairer said and wished, "that she will stumble over it".

Schairer devoted himself intensively to domestic issues. He called for the removal of civil servants' privileges ("It is a shame we can not get rid of the remnants of the medieval system of power." 4, 1, 1949) and fought against officials being elected to parliaments. He enthusiastically turned against the pulpit abuse before elections and full of praise he expressed himself when the Federal Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany ("Good News", 6, 9, 1947) admitted in a sensational public confession the aberrations of the church, the conventional Concept of the state church, which supported the dangerous dream of the German unity, gave a total refusal and promised a radical conversion.

Just one year before the currency reform, he vigorously argued ("The Currency Reform", 13, 8, 1947) to reduce the existing money supply to one-tenth, because "the black market will never cope with the police, as long as goods shortage and Price stop is not eliminated ". Against the currency reform only "black marketeers, lazybones and sliders" could have something. Like a bomb struck his editorial "The Reinsburgstraße" (25, 2, 1948) to the readership because he had dared to write: "I can not blame the Jews in the Reinsburgstraße their illicit trade." A flood of readers letters was the result. He, who had always taken care of the little man, this time held the mirror in front of his face. In more than a hundred letters the indignation was discharged, and in an unmasking manner the soul of the petty bourgeois came to the fore.

The socialist also came up in the Schairer articles. On the 1. In October 1948 he spoke out for the "socialization" of the basic industries and at the 13. In November 1948, after the currency reform, he still saw in his editorial "Inflation" the "compulsion to socialism". He called the "social market economy" Erhard summarily as a "hybrid thing that satisfies no one - neither the socialists, nor the capitalists." On the other hand, there were numerous examples of his undogmatic thinking. So he demanded on 26. February 1949 ("Foolish World") to lift the price freeze, make the building profitable again by granting tax exemption for new buildings, and he also did not hesitate to plead for issuing a tax amnesty for building with black money. - He was completely contrary to the socialists in the question of suffrage. As a student of Naumann, he vehemently campaigned for majority voting. "The proportional representation system is not least to blame for the failure of the Weimar Reichstag" ("The Constitution", 13, 11, 1946). Two years later, when the "Parliamentary Council" in Bonn advised the future federal suffrage, he renewed a commitment to the majority voting system ("The Electoral Law", 9, 10, 1948), which at that time only fought against the SPD.

Consequently, Schairer passionately fought to form a strong opposition in the parliaments, which should always be in a position to take over the government. After the first county elections in the French and British zones, which were very successful both for the CDU (in the south) and for the SPD (in the north), he warned against the formation of large coalitions and wrote ("The election victory of the CDU," 19 10, 1946): "Without opposition there is no education for democracy. Those who expect the salary for the future from the coalition of the major parties will walk on a wrong path that will not lead to democracy but to the vassalocracy. "After the first state elections in Württemberg-Baden, the CDU with 39 seats as strongest party emerged - the SPD received 32, the DVP 19, and the KPD 10 seats - he advised a bourgeois coalition CDU-DVP and called on the SPD according to their earlier statements ("At the crossroads", 30, 11, 1946), "not to participate in a government for the time being".

When it became an all-party government under the premiership Reinhold Maiers came - for which Theodor Heuss was sacrificed as Minister of Culture -, Schairer poured all his ridicule, to which he was capable, on the new state government, but especially on the SPD. ("Without Opposition", 14, 12, 1946.) He sarcastically proposed to reformulate the constitution, thereby bringing the harsh reality a little closer, as follows: "The number of ministers is determined by the parties and is directed each according to their proportional needs. The individual ministerial chairs are negotiated against each other by the parties, so that everyone can be satisfied with their possessions. The Prime Minister should see how he gets on with the ministers he finds. His election by the Landtag is a mere formality, as well as the confirmation of the ministers appointed by the parties. "

It really did not get any sharper and ironic anymore and one wonders what he would probably write to the Grand Coalition in Bonn today if he were still with us.