August 24, 2015

1949. Gerhart Eisler Criticizes the United States

Gerhart Eisler Gives a Press Conference After Fleeing the United States
Communist politician Gerhart Eisler in 1949 (Getty)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

June 3, 1949

Gerhart Eisler, the communist who refused to answer a $25,000 question in an American court, talked a couple of hours ago with reporters, including us minions of the capitalistic world. But he still refuses to reveal exactly how or why he fled from the United States and deserted his sympathizers who had put up his bail.

Eisler traveled from Prague through Dresden and Leipzig to Berlin. In all these places he is the number one exhibit in a kind of ideological sideshow as the man who outwitted the FBI.

Today's news conference was held in the central headquarters of the communist-dominated Socialist Unity Party, and the bald, moon-faced Marxist answered questions glibly. He was dressed in a gray suit, khaki shirt, and red necktie.

The communist press was out in full force. The first question they asked was a setup: "Do you hate America?"

Eisler replied that he had no hate for the American people, but, just as he hated Hitler, he hated American reactionaries. The German communist went on to say that there are 200,000 Americans under forced labor in prisons, and that millions of Americans, including Negroes, are prisoners in the United States.

Eisler said that the majority of the American people did not want a war, only the capitalists and imperialists. In this respect, Eisler said that the economic crisis in America had already begun, and that the recent decline in the stock market was a sign of an approaching depression. The only way the capitalists can prevent this crisis, he declared, is by the production of armaments and the preparation for war as the only means to save capitalism. The Catholic Church is supporting this war policy, Eisler charged.

Eisler said that, in fleeing from the United States, he had simply walked onto a ship—an act that had infuriated the FBI. "Members of the FBI are not super-men," he said.

In a half hour from now, all four of the Berlin military commanders will hold a meeting to discuss the city's elevated rail strike. Yesterday a referendum on continuing the strike was held by the anti-Communist union. More than 96 percent of the 14,000 strikers voted to continue the walkout. Only four hundred were against it.

Today's meeting will be the first time the Russian commander has participated in such a gathering since last June 16th.