April 12, 2017

1948. Moscow Withdraws Recognition of Ernst Reuter

United Nations Negotiations Under Duress
Ernst Reuter speaks before a crowd protesting the occupation of Berlin, September 9, 1948 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 16, 1948

It's noisy in Berlin today. The airlift is working again after three dreary and quiet days of bad weather. A US Navy plane overshot a runway at Tempelhof last night. Four men were injured and the plane demolished. It is the first accident by the Navy, who joined the airlift only last week.

The new proposals in the United Nations have brought no official comment from military government officials here, but the surprise appeal by Secretary Trygve Lie and Australia's Evatt—followed by a three-point proposal by Argentina's Bramuglia—is not received here with much enthusiasm. The Western Power officials here feel somewhat like a wrestler whose opponent wants to negotiate while at the same time applying a stranglehold.

The attitude is that negotiation under duress—and that's the way the blockade is regarded—is just another word for appeasement.

Unless the situation changes suddenly, there is not much optimism here that anything will come out of the latest diplomatic moves in Paris. That is the reason that General Clay said yesterday that he had "no reason to believe that access to Berlin by rail and highway will be regained by Christmas."

Russian occupation authorities have moved against one of the most powerful and popular political leaders in Berlin. Soviet military government officials withdrew recognition of Professor Ernst Reuter as City Commissioner for Public Works, Utilities, and Transportation. Reuter is one of the leading members of the Socialist Party in Berlin and one of the most outspoken critics of Communism. He heads the Communist Party blacklist of politicians who will be held responsible, as the phrase goes.

It means that another step has been taken in what appears to be the inevitable establishment of separate Western and Eastern city governments for Berlin.

As it stands now, Berlin has only an acting mayor in the Western sectors, although Reuter would succeed to the job for all of the city if the Russians recognized him. There already are two commissioners for the police, two for food and health, two for labor, and now two for public works and transportation. They operate on opposite sides of the city.

Experts are predicting that the city finally will have two complete governments after the December 5 elections in the Western sectors. Soviet occupation authorities oppose it and no elections will be allowed in the Eastern zone.

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