August 27, 2017

1949. The Bundeshaus Prepares to Host New Parliament

Katholikentag Celebrated as Bonn Readies Capitol Building
A crowd gathers in front of the Bochum steel plant in West Germany to celebrate Catholic Day (Katholikentag) on September 4, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Frankfurt

September 4, 1949

Plans for the opening session of the new West German parliament in Bonn next Wednesday include a musical concert by a symphony orchestra from Cologne, but it appears today that this will be about all the harmony that will mark the opening months of the Federal Republic.

About the only thing certain at this moment is that the delegates will have a place to meet in their new capitol building—a huge white room with sidewalls of glass windows reaching from floor to ceiling. The lighting is by squares of pink neon tubing, which caused one observer to remark that if the capitol is moved to Frankfurt they can turn this room into a dance hall.

However, the right-wing coalition appears confident that they will have enough votes to justify the five million marks they have poured into converting the teacher's college building into the Bundeshaus.

The biggest trouble right now is the assignment of seats on the floor. The original plan was to preserve the traditional right-to-left seating arrangements according to the political complexion of the parties. The Communists already have requested seats on the extreme left of the floor. However, it now develops that no one wants to sit on the extreme right, a position all-too-recently associated with the Nazi Party.

So today the government planners are considering the assignment of seats by lot.

Willy Messerschmidt, the famous German aircraft designer, was in Bonn yesterday. He said he had received offers from many nations, including Russia, to design war planes, but that he has turned them all down. Messerschmidt has designed a rapid construction type house and came to the new capitol to get orders to build his dwellings to relieve Bonn's critical housing shortage.

In the Ruhr today more than a half-million German Catholics gathered at Bochum to celebrate this country's Catholic Day. The Catholic Workers' federation adopted a resolution calling for a strong, united Christian Germany; a united Europe with a single constitution, parliament, and law; and rejecting socialization of German industry.

Ironically, the mass meeting is being held at the site of the Bochumer Verein, one of the biggest and most modern war plants in Germany. Pope Pius is scheduled to address the celebration later today.

Composer Richard Strauss is seriously ill in his Bavarian home. The 85-year-old musician is suffering from a heart ailment and other disorders. Doctors are in constant attendance.

Tomorrow a US Senate subcommittee will begin its hearings into the Malmedy massacre case. Senators Baldwin of Connecticut, Kefauver of Tennessee, and Hunt of Wyoming are in Munich to investigate Army procedure in the trial of a score of Nazi soldiers charged with slaughtering American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge.

In the four-power city of Berlin, a British-licensed newspaper today says that the Russian air force is giving training to young German recruits into the people's police. This training, according to the newspaper, is part of a new mobilization of the Communist-led police and is the first step in formalizing an East German fighting force.

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