August 20, 2017

1949. Soviets See Favorable Prospects for Agreement with United States

Possible Softening of the Propaganda Line
Black market deal in East Berlin in 1953. The poster on the wall reads: "Es lebe die große Freundschaft zwischen den kulturen der Sowjetunion-Deutschland, die sewahr eines dauerhaftlen friedens in Europa!" ("Long live the great friendship between the cultures of the Soviet Union of Germany, which is a lasting peace in Europe!") (Photo by Ralph Cranesource)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 3, 1949

As in Paris, the sun has come out for the first time in a week to shine in Berlin, and it is possible to see the effects at once. People walk more sprightly in the streets, they smile and are kinder to each other. And for a moment it is even possible to forget that this is a blockaded city—that there is a Berlin crisis.

This is the first business day of the new year. The propaganda from the East sector of the city is not quite so abusive. Or perhaps the men who write the stuff haven't gotten their breath back after the holidays.

The Russian-licensed newspaper, Forward, today even hints that perhaps the new American Congress, meeting in a few hours, may come up with a solution to the East-West difficulties. This editorial claims that the victories of the Communist forces in China have changed the world outlook. And that this fact, coupled with the American elections and the rumored resignation of Secretary of State Marshall and other cabinet officials, presents favorable prospects for agreement between the United States and Soviet Russia. The newspaper says that the pressure of the peace-loving majority in America will force President Truman to seek a compromise with Russia in the coming months.

I mention this only as a possible softening of the Communist propaganda line toward the United States.

Meanwhile there is no letup of the blockade. Today East Berlin officials announce that all vehicles which do not have the new Soviet military permits will be confiscated where found in the Russian sector of the city.

The Soviet-occupied sections of East Berlin and Eastern Germany today begin what they hail as a "Two Year Plan" of socialization and reconstruction. Streetcars in the zone were decorated with banners and flags—red, of course—factory whistles were blown, meetings were held in the factories.

The idea is to increase production. The East German government has approved what is called the "Hennecke movement," a speed-up labor campaign similar to the Stakhanovite movement in Russia.

The current joke concerns the carpenter who bragged he had increased his production 1,500 percent. "How can this be?" he was asked.

"Someone asked me to bring him a nail," the Hennecke man replied, "And I brought a handful."

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