April 29, 2017

1949. Social Democrats Accuse Soviets of Espionage

Dueling Political Movements in West Germany
East German Foreign Minister Georg Dertinger at the swearing-in of the first cabinet of the newly founded German Democratic Republic, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

February 7, 1949

The Social Democratic Party in West Berlin and West Germany has long been known to have one of the best intelligence networks operating in the Soviet zone of Germany. The Socialists, who swept last December's Berlin elections, have been collecting information of Communist operations in the Russian-sponsored civil administrations of East Germany.

Today they announced that they have uncovered an espionage system in the Soviet zone in which the Soviet secret police force Germans to spy on other Germans who might not be in sympathy with Communist policy.

Willy Brandt, a Socialist party leader in Berlin, said this morning that for every one thousand Germans there are about four persons assigned to report to the secret police. If these Germans refuse, their families are threatened.

However, Brandt says that the Social Democratic Party already has a list of the names of five hundred of these informants which it soon intends to publish. These agents, he said, later will be punished for their activity.

The East German political leaders also are thinking in underground terms. Georg Dertinger, officer in the pro-Communist wing of the Christian Democratic Union, yesterday demanded the creation of a "German resistance movement" in the American, British, and French zones. This so-called "liberation movement," as he termed it, would be organized to eliminate Western German politicians now working with the Western Powers.

The British-licensed newspaper The Telegraph today reports the construction of a new underground, bomb-proof headquarters for the Soviet military command on the eastern outskirts of Berlin. The paper says the bunker consists of 370 rooms, has direct telephone communications with Moscow, and has its own electrical and air conditioning system. It took a year to complete. The site used to be a ball-bearing factory, dismantled by the Russians and later converted into a headquarters.

The bunker will be used, the paper says, in the event of an emergency.

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