November 16, 2016

1949. The Harnack House Club

Americans in Berlin
The Harnack House around 1930 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 5, 1949

The most fashionable American club in Berlin is the Harnack House, a rambling stucco structure with its own recreation rooms, dining rooms, theater, and bar. Membership of the Harnack House club is restricted to Army officers and civilians. But since its establishment, the enlisted man—the G.I.—has been permitted to visit the club as the guest of any officer or civilian who invites him.

However, today a situation has developed that may turn into something more than a tempest in the Harnack House teapot, because last night a group—mostly of Army officers—succeeded in passing a ruling which henceforth will bar any of the Berlin enlisted men from entering the club, guests or not.

The vote came after a long and bitter debate, with most civilians insisting that it was their right as members to invite who they wanted into the club. But the officer clique won—the vote was 135 to 106.

As one colonel put it: "I have no objection to ninety percent of the enlisted men, but there are ten percent who don't know how to behave. They should not be allowed among officers and ladies."

The joker is that German nationals—which in this case means Berlin "fr√§uleins" for the most part—are not, like the G.I., barred as guests of the club.

One officer opposing the ban remarked: "This should have an interesting effect on the reenlistment campaign in Germany." While a civilian declared bitterly: "And they expect us to teach democracy to the Germans."

Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh left Air Force headquarters in Wiesbaden for an inspection trip of American air bases in southern Germany.

Lindbergh is inspecting operational procedures as an adviser to the Air Chief of Staff in Washington.

An underground anti-Communist resistance group against is reported for the first time in the East sector of Berlin. Pamphlets signed "The German Legion" were distributed at an elevated station in the Soviet sector the other day. The pamphlets demanded "destruction of the red disgrace."

Otherwise Berlin has been fairly quiet.

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