April 4, 2016

1949. Allied Occupation Officials Convene Ahead of West German Elections

Military Leaders Meet in Germany
"President Truman with John McCloy, U.S. High Commissioner for Germany (center), and Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in the Oval Office of the White House," January 23, 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 31, 1949

The United States Joint Chiefs of Staff are spending the weekend conferring with High Commissioner John J. McCloy and other top American officials in Germany. Tomorrow they will hold their first strategy conference with foreign military men when they meet with representatives of Luxembourg.

The talks are top secret, and the visit of America's highest military leaders has again focused the attention of conquered Germany on the ever-present possibility that a shooting war could replace the Cold War struggle now going on between East and West.

The Communists here have finally received their propaganda instructions after several days of suspicious quiet concerning the military talks. The Russian-licensed National Zeitung starts off the party line with a front page banner headline declaring that the "US Chiefs of Staff Arrive for Mercenary Research." Western Germany is to be the military training ground for the North Atlantic fleet, the newspaper declares. It goes on to say that the visit of the three top military leaders marks a new chapter of American history: armed intervention in a foreign land during peacetime. The Communist paper calls the American staff directors "bankers in the uniforms of generals" who are in Europe to arrange profits for US war industries. It charges that America's war plans call for the United States to contribute the atom bomb while Europe supplies the human lives.

Generals Bradley and Vandenburg and Admiral Denfeld will leave for London on Tuesday, where they will continue their conferences with their British opposite members. On Thursday a meeting is scheduled in Paris with Field Marshal Montgomery and French, Belgian, and Dutch military authorities.

They will then go to Rome and Vienna before returning to the United States.

Today is the last day of the airlift, and beginning tomorrow work will start on the redeployment of between sixteen and seventeen thousand men called from all over the world to defeat the Russian blockade of Berlin. General John K. Cannon said that most of the men would be returned to the bases from which they were called. Only two troop carrier groups of about thirty-six planes each will be left in Germany when the staging out is completed. The Burtonwood, England base will be eliminated as a major repair station. The British are sending home about five thousand RAF men, leaving only two squadrons in Hastings.

I have learned through a confidential source that the Soviet military administration is conducting a widespread investigation into a series of mysterious explosions in the Soviet zone which indicate that a German underground movement is operating against the Communist occupation authority. The latest attack is reported to have made last Monday in Potsdam, on the outskirts of Berlin, when a charge of dynamite damaged a Russian headquarters building. There have been other reports of Soviet military trains being derailed by explosives. So far eight Russian soldiers, including one officer, have been injured. The nature of the suspected underground movement has not been determined. Both Eastern and Western occupation authorities have been on guard against a possible secret organization of former Wehrmacht and Nazi leaders. There have been no such incidents in the three Western zones.
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

August 2, 1949

High Commissioner John J. McCloy left Frankfurt for the United States today for two weeks of consultations in Washington. His departure came less then twenty-four hours after announcing an overall reorganization of the American occupation machinery which will work with the new West German government as a civilian organization replacing the military government that has conducted affairs here for the past four years.

The McCloy plan consolidates a number of functions which will cut down the cost of our occupation. The High Commissioner for Germany will have a cabinet of eight deputies each heading a major operational division such as Economic Affairs, Political Affairs, Military Security, and so forth.

The new program makes McCloy chief representative of the State Department as well as head of the ECA Marshall Plan organization, which will earmark funds to project the West German economy in the European Recovery Program.

America's fiery commander of the British military post, General Frank Howley of Philadelphia, has also resigned his job. Howley, who has been in military government since he was appointed commandant of Cherbourg early in the invasion, says he wants to return to civilian life. The new Berlin commandant, according to reliable sources, will be General Maxwell D. Taylor, former member of West Point and now Chief of Staff of the Army's European Command.

Germany's election campaign is heating up, and today we have news of the campaign's first casualty. A Communist election worker was stabbed to death in Eastern Bavaria yesterday at a party rally. The victim was a clothing worker. The assailant was a 25-year-old refugee shoemaker who claims membership in the right-wing Christian Social party. The shoemaker said he stabbed the Communist clothing worker because he became exasperated during a political argument.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.