July 15, 2017

1949. Adenauer Set to Form Coalition; Manstein Trial Underway

Erich von Manstein on Trial in Hamburg
Field Marshal Erich von Manstein smokes a cigar on the Eastern Front in 1943
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

August 24, 1949

Dr. Konrad Adenauer, leader of the Christian Democratic party, today has confirmed what everyone knew anyway—that he will be the first chancellor of the new Federal Republic of Germany.

The 73-year-old Rhinelander made the announcement at his first post-election press conference in Bonn.

He said negotiations to form a coalition of right-wing parties is now underway, and that the Socialists, only eight seats behind the Christian Democrats in the parliament, will go into opposition. This opposition, according to the chancellor-to-be, is a healthy innovation in German politics. Adenauer said that the German people were not educated in parliamentary practice during the Weimar government; that the pattern of politics here always has been a coalition of two equally strong elements which makes for the kind of governmental sterility that produced Hitler.

"The German people," he said, "must become accustomed that when one of the big parties takes over the leadership, the other major party goes into opposition as in Anglo-Saxon democracy.

Dr. Ludwig Erhard will take over the important ministry of economics to continue the free enterprise policies backed by thew American military government and approved in the recent electoral mandate.

If the Adenauer government is looking for opposition in the German parliament, it is going to get it. The Social Democratic Party today announces that they will fight the conservative program of the Christian Democrats and seek to take control from "the reactionaries, the bankers, and industrialists and wholesalers who will make the policy."

In Hamburg today, the war crimes trial of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein goes into its second day. The 61-year-old military leader this morning pleaded not guilty to all of the seventeen counts which allege that he was responsible for atrocities committed by his troops in their march through Poland and into Russia. These charges accuse Manstein of complicity in the execution of Jews, partisans, and the forced movement of populations.

The former field marshal appeared in court today smoking a cigar. Although suffering from an eye disorder, he appeared healthy. Two British and two German lawyers are acting as defense. Costs of defense are provided by a $10,000 fund collected in Germany and England. Winston Churchill recently contributed $400 to the pool.

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