April 30, 2017

1949. The CDU and SPD Seek Compromise on New Constitution

New Plan for Berlin
The 1st Bundestag convenes for the first time in Bonn, Germany, September 7, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 21, 1949

The great Berlin Blockade "mystery" is becoming even more elusive today, with no indication that there is anything more than rumor to the recent reports that the Russians are going to lift their blockade.

Last night the rump government of Eastern Berlin announced that Oberb├╝rgermeister Fritz Ebert would make a statement this morning on the "new plan for Berlin." However, this morning the special East magistrate meeting and the Ebert press conference were called off. No explanation was given.

Some observers connect this incident with the proceedings of the Social Democratic Party meeting completed last night in Hanover. The Socialists met in an attempt to reach agreement on a compromise constitution for the West German government. However, last night the Socialist party leaders turned down a compromise and submitted their own short-form constitution. Thus it would appear that there will be yet further delay in the establishment of the West German government. It had been hoped that the final details on the constitution would be agreed upon by German political leaders and the Western occupation powers at their meeting next Monday.

Thus if the Socialists and the Christian Democrats are going to continue their wrangling over the constitution for the West German government, the Communists will not be forced to act to lift the blockade in an effort to frustrate the formation of such a government.

Today the German Communists urge the Socialists not to cooperate with the right-wing Christian Democrats or with the Western occupation powers in forming the government. The Communists want to form a coalition with the Socialists to work for what they call the unity of Germany.

The blockade-lifitng fever which has spread throughout Berlin cooled somewhat today. Heinrich Rau, chairman of the Soviet zone economic council, denied that there have been any moves by his organization to reopen trade with Western Germany.

The issue now hinges on what the West German politicians achieve in the next four days. Representatives of the Socialists and the Christian Democrats will convene this weekend before they meet again on Monday with the Western military governors. If they work out a compromise by then and proceed with the formation of the West German government, the blockade-lifting fever will rise again.

If not and there is more delay, then there probably will be no change in the East-West split over Germany.

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