To the Editor:
Most of the studies cited in Dr. Roberta S. Sigel’s article “What Germans Think—and Why” (September 1951) depended for their findings on opinion polls of Opinion Survey Branch of the American Military Government or tests given to German prisoners of war in the United States, or tests and questionnaires given to screen German applicants for important posts (analyzed in Bertram Schaffner’s Father Land). This being so, it is regrettable that Dr. Sigel not only failed to indicate the different method of investigation employed by David Rodnick in his book, Postwar Germans, but gave a most misleading account of the book’s scope and conclusions.
Dr. Sigel states that “Rodnick studied a relatively small group of factory workers in Western Germany who engaged also in part-time agriculture to supplement their incomes.” Actually Rodnick, who is an anthropologist, did five months’ intensive field work in Central and North-eastern Hesse, primarily in two towns, one hundred miles apart, and in their outlying districts in which most of the skilled workers had their residence. “These two towns with their varied population seemed to offer a representative cross-section of Protestant Germany,” Rodnick stated.
Moreover, in the course of his investigations, in which he was assisted by his wife, Rodnick “observed or questioned some 1,500 Germans of both sexes and of all ages and classes.” . . .
As to Dr. Rodnick’s conclusions, suffice it to say here that not only did he fmd “much more affection in German family life than other observers,” as Dr. Sigel reports, but that he was able, because of his approach and methods of study, to bring to light significant variations in German personality and society which have been all too often overlooked.
Esther S. Goldfrank
Chinese History Project
New York City