West German opposition party leaders and a major newspaper have called upon Chancellor Helmut Schmidt to pull out of next week's summit with East German leader Erich Honecker because of the workers' strikes in Poland.
In interviews this week, Franz Josef Strauss, running for chancellor against Schmidt, said his opponent should not meet with Honecker at this time.
Strauss also suggested that West German banks withhold their recently promised credits of about $700 million to Warsaw until the workers' demands are met.
"We should not make billions available to support a bankrupt and corrupt economic system," Strauss told the daily newspaper Bild.
No major Western government has more economic and diplomatic stake in a peaceful solution to the Polish situation than West Germany. And for Schmidt in particular, the political stakes are mounting as well. The unrest in Poland has prompted domestic criticism of his administration's financial support for Soviet-dominated East Bloc governments.
The summit -- which would come just six weeks before West Germany's national elections -- would mark the first time in 10 years that a West German chancellor has traveld to East Germany. Schmidt's aides say the meeting could lay the groundwork for furture bilateral moves between the countries.
Today, however, the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, calling the summit "unnecessary," also advised Schmidt not to go.
The newspaper asked in a comment whether it would be right for Schmidt to be pictured on television meeting with the leader of a communist country where troops might be called upon to suppress the strikes and seal the Polish-East German border.
So far, the Bonn government appears determined to go ahead with the meeting, to be held at the lake resort of Werbellinsee, approximatley 35 miles north of East Berlin.
The opposition Christian Democrat and Christial Social Union parties have accused Schmidt or arranging the summit to gain an advantage in the Oct. 5 election by appearing as a champion of detente.
There is a growing possibility that the East Germans themselves will again postpone the meeting. (It had originally been scheduled for last winter, but was tabled after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.) The East Berlin leadership is said to be concerned that the visit could spark an enthusiastic outpouring of East Germans eager to demonstrate their solidarity with Polish strikers in the east and the German chancellor from the West.
On Poland, the Bonn government has taken a position officially termed "restraint in public," to avoid giving the Soviets an excuse to intervene. Today Schmidt's Social Democratic Party leadership warned against the use of force and outside interference in settling the Polish dispute.
Meanwhile, Schmidt is said by informed sources to be "deeply worried and depressed" about the developments in Poland and the effects they will have on East-West relations.
Both economically and diplomatically, the West German government has much at stake.West Germany is Poland's largest Western trade partner and second most important source of imports, after the Soviet Union. West German banks hold approximately 15 to 20 percent of Warsaw's outstanding $19.6 billion debt to the West, according to the Bonn Economies Ministry.
More importantly, Poland represents one of the hinges in West Germany's open-door policy with Eastern Europe -- a policy that serves as cornerstone for the 11-year Bonn reign of the Social Democratic Party.
While the opposition Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union complain that the Bonn government has been too ready to support financially communist power in the East, the Social Democrats and their junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats, hold that their strategy has brought practical benefits for Eastern Europeans and a relaxation of tension in the field between the superpowers.
Only last week, Schmidt took personal credit for getting Moscow and Washington talking to each other again, and declared that the period of East-West tension was over. Dark clouds, however, returned to the East-West horizon this week with Polish Communisht Part chief Edward Giereks last-minute cancellation of a planned summit in Hamburg with Schmidt.
Among other things, the meeting was intended to demonstrate the strength of Warsaw's links with the West -- something in which both the Polish and West German leadership take pride. One of the key elements of Warsaw's economic strategy in the 1970s was to boost imports from the West -- particularly purchases of high technology items -- to speed development. In the past decade, the percentage of Warsaw's total imports coming from nonsocialist countries jumped from 31 to 46 percent, according to a Warsaw economics expert.
The strategy failed, in part because Poland's stultified central planning system was unable to adapt quickly enough, and in part because Poland could not export enough to pay for its imports. The result was that Poland ended up heavily mortaged to the West. It has srecently been trying to cut imports and investment, but experts worry that this will only stunt growth and further aggravate Warsaw's economic problems.
Suggestions that Bonn withhold new loans in order to force reform is dismissed by West German bankers and economists as self-defeating, given the West's interest in keeping Poland stable, and protecting the investment already there. Cutting aid to Poland, they say, would likely reduce the prospect for change there, not increase it.
"Without the credit, the situation would only worsen," said Jochen Bethkenhagen of Berlin's Institute for Economic Research. "With other East European countries having difficulties of their own, in fact there is only the West to help Poland," Bethkenhagen said.