May 6, 2017

1949. The Berlin Assembly Prepares to Meet in Schöneberg

West Berlin City Assembly Holds First Meeting of 1949
A police officer in East Berlin stands watch near the Brandenburg Gate in the 1950s (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 14, 1949

A new chapter in the international thriller called the Berlin crisis opens in an hour from now when the newly-elected city assembly holds its first meeting of 1949.

The Socialist-dominated assembly will meet in the Schöneberg town hall, well inside the American sector. The American, British, and French commanders for Berlin will attend the initial sessions, putting the official Western Power stamp of approval on the government which Soviet authorities and the Communists of the Eastern part of the city have called illegal.

Incidentally, the West Berlin assembly still holds its doors open to the elected delegates of East Berlin. However, these representatives are boycotting the meeting, having given their allegiance to the Opera House government proclaimed into power last November 30th.

The city fathers of the blockaded part of the city had originally planned to decorate their assembly hall with flowers. They ordered floral decorations from a firm in the Soviet sector. However, the flowers were confiscated by Eastern police at the control point at the Brandenburg Gate.

The Western city assembly faces tremendous tasks in the coming year. The biggest job will be administration of two and one-half million Berliners under blockade conditions which are steadily increasing unemployment and strangling the economic life of the community.

German political leaders say that the present airlift average of four thousand tons of supplies a day is enough to sustain life in Berlin, but that to get her factories going and the economy working again, this tonnage would have to be doubled.

It is a paradoxical fact that the solution to the overwhelming problems facing blockaded Berlin will not be found inside the Russian ring around the city. The answers are to be found in Moscow and Washington.

In this sense, the American people also will be invisible members of the 1949 West Berlin magistrate when it meets today.

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