July 16, 2017

1949. The Adenauer Government Begins Work

Currency Reform for the Deutsche Mark
Future Chancellor Konrad Adenauer during a meeting of the Parliamentary Council, September 1, 1948 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

September 22, 1949

The first major act of the new Federal Republic of Germany will be to devaluate the Western Deutsche mark in line with the worldwide currency reshuffle now underway.

This is evident this morning after an important executive session with the three High Commissioners of Germany, a session aimed at establishing the mark on a competitive basis with the new values of world currency.

No official announcements have come from last night's meeting, but reports are circulating today that the Deutsche mark, which is now worth 33 cents, may be cut to a figure somewhere between 19 to 24 cents. British occupation authorities, mindful that the United Kingdom must compete with German goods on the foreign market, are favoring the larger figure which would keep the price of German exports high. American policy favors a more liberal rate in order to spur German recovery.

Announcement of the mark devaluation is expected to come tonight or tomorrow.

The German Republic is now officially 27 hours old. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer notified the American, British, and French occupation authorities of the formation of his government at 11:17 yesterday. In accepting the government, the three military governors automatically became High Commissioners, and the Allied occupation statute went into force. To a large extent, the West German government is now on its own.

Reaction from the Soviet zone of Germany to Western currency manipulation and the confirmation of the new German Republic have been vitriolic and somewhat confused.

Our old friend, Communist leader Gerhart Eisler who fled from America, has entered the picture again. He is the new head of the East Germany education bureau in charge of a propaganda campaign to "explain" the currency crisis in the West.

I am informed that this campaign will be threefold. First, to sell the idea that the currency devaluations are the first step in America's goal of world-mastery. Second, that the European governments were forced by the United States to devalue. And finally, that this proves that the Marshall European aid plan is a complete failure.

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