July 8, 2017

1948. Uneasy Quiet Ahead of the Meeting of the United Nations

Winter Approaches in Blockaded Berlin
Standoff between an East German water cannon and a U.S. tank in Berlin, 1961 (Photo by Paul Schutzer - source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

September 19, 1948

A move by the Western German administration in Berlin to place the blockade problem before this meeting of the United Nations is expected to come tomorrow when the anti-Communist section of the city council meets again.

The uneasy quiet that has marked the past week here has given rise to some hopes that perhaps the problem may be resolved with a softening of the Russian attitude. One reason for this view is a directive by the Soviet commandant, General Kotikov, that the severe sentences imposed on five young Germans for participating in a mass meeting in the British sector be reviewed. Also the resumption of conferences in Moscow has raised hopes here.

However, the Russian-sponsored Berlin press continues its provocative propaganda. The war against newspapers from the British, American, and French zones is being intensified after yesterday's hoodlum threats against distributors against anti-Communist publications.

And the reports continue to spread that the pro-Communist Socialist Unity Party is organizing their police units into an attack group, giving them automatic weapons and housing them in military barracks.

So, according to which side of the bed Berliners got out of this morning, it is anyone's guess whether the crisis is better or worse.

The past several days have brought a sharp drop in temperatures to this region, and the smell of winter is in the air. As usual, all the weather prophets are operating; for the question of whether it will be a mild or severe winter is literally a matter of life and death to a great number of people here. You remember during the hard winter of 1946-47 as many as twenty Berliners a day froze to death.

Meteorologists say that the sunspots indicate a hard winter. The fact that the sunflowers ripened a month earlier than normal is said by some to indicate extreme cold. Foresters say it will be cold because of the large crop of acorns, chestnuts, and hazelnuts.

But Berlin gardeners dispute these theories, pointing out that the field mice and bees have shown no signs of early preparation for cold and that the earthworms are still high in the ground.

But fall, at least, has arrived. General Clay today kicks off the first football of the military gridiron season.

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