July 9, 2017

1948. Strange Incident at the Downs Household in Berlin

Vandals Damage Downs' Car
"Bill Downs and Edward R. Murrow help push a broken down car in Berlin, Germany," 1953 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 21, 1948

Another airlift plane was reported down in the Soviet zone, American air safety authorities announced last night. But this morning it turns out that someone was playing a cruel practical joke. There was no truth to the telephoned report.

The British military government has issued a reply to Marshall Sokolovsky's charges that the British were responsible for the breakdown of the four-power talks in Berlin. The British statement brands the Soviet commandant's allegations as untrue and points out that the Berlin Blockade was clamped down before currency reform—that the British government is ready to discuss the problems pertaining to Berlin and all Germany but only after the blockade is lifted. Then the British declare that it is Soviet Russia, not Britain, who does not want a four-power agreement on Berlin.

This is pretty much the same stuff that has been hurled back and forth in this bisected city since the blockade five months ago. The only difference is that for some reason the Russians have shifted their attack from the United States authorities to British officials. Why this shift in the propaganda line is not clear right now—or maybe it has no significance at all.

Military police are investigating a strange incident that happened to my household last night. Just before midnight two men attempted to wreck my automobile as it was parked on the street in front of the CBS office. The vandals succeeded in cracking the windshield and breaking off the radio antenna before we chased them away.

The men escaped in a jeep. The puzzling thing is that it was obviously not an attempt to steal the car but to damage it. The problem now is to determine whether this was the result of someone's Saturday night party or whether perhaps there is an organized campaign against foreign correspondents in the Western sectors who are now being called warmongers. However, it is the first such incident and there is no evidence that the vandalism is anything but just that.

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