February 12, 2017

1948. Struggle for Berlin on the Tenth Anniversary of the Munich Pact

Berlin Blockaded Ten Years After the Munich Agreement
"Clarence the Camel stands in a C-47 aircraft amid some 5,000 pounds of food, candy, books, games and toys on the way to Berlin for distribution to children of the blockaded city during the Berlin Airlift" in Wiesbaden, Germany, October 21, 1948 (Gerald Waller - source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

September 30, 1948

There are two voices being heard in Berlin today.

One is the steady drone of the airlift planes day and night bringing in their precious cargoes of food and fuel. The other is the rantings of Soviet-sponsored propaganda, which right now is trying to work the people here up to violence against the Western Powers and, at the same time, to cow those Berliners who oppose the Communists.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the notorious Munich Pact, and it also is a day that marks a new virulence in the Communist propaganda line.

A Berlin city councillor named Waldemar Schmidt, a member of the Communist-sponsored Socialist Unity Party, evidently is sounding the new keynote. Speaking of the American policies, he told a meeting that "It is impossible to deal with these new fascists by ballot. They must be killed wherever we meet them."

Wilhelm Pieck, Chairman of the Socialist Unity Party, made a speech over the Soviet-licensed radio last night and threatened that, if the Berlin city council does not change its pro-Western policy, the city will face the most serious catastrophe in its history.

And to make this war of words even more confusing, one pro-Communist newspaper hails the Russians on this Munich anniversary as the nation which not only liberated Berlin from the Nazis, but also liberated it from the Anglo-American bombing. How cynical can you get?

It is not likely that these rantings have much effect on the ordinary German who for years was fed on the pap put out by Goebbels. As one German expressed it to me: "It is not so important whether or not the Berliners believe this rot. The danger is that the Russians themselves will begin to believe their own lies."

However, Western Power authorities here are watching those new calls to violence. Oftentimes these threats are the forerunner of so-called "voluntary" action by the well-organized cadres of Communists.

Twenty-five young Germans have escaped a Russian-guarded transport train which was taking labor conscripts supposedly to the uranium mines of Saxony. The train stopped at the zoo station in the British sector of Berlin. The youths made a dash for it, and twenty-five got away before their guards could do anything about it. The train proceeded after a delay of several hours.

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