September 24, 2017

1949. Simmering Tensions Over the Ruhr

Occupation Authority is Tested
Protest in East Berlin against the Occupation Statute of Germany on February 11, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 12, 1949

Three American airlift fliers were killed early this morning when their C-54 returning from Berlin crashed near the Rhine-Main airport at Frankfurt.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the accident, which occurred shortly after one AM as the plane was coming in for a landing. Visibility was bad at the time, and there was a light snow falling. Names of the casualties are being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.

This morning's deaths brings the total number of men killed flying over the Russian blockade to thirty-three—twenty-six Americans and seven British.

The British military government declared today that seven Ruhr Germans who agreed to work on the dismantling of the Bochum steel plant and then refused would be prosecuted in a British military court. The seven were part of a crew of twenty-one hired by the British reparations commission to tear down the drop forge section of the plant. German workers at the big steel plant are resisting the dismantling, claiming it will throw them out of jobs. The trials will be the first prosecuting civil disobedience.

A dozen Germans showed up for work today. German police are standing by, however there have been no disturbances—strictly passive resistance. Yesterday two presses, valued at fifty-thousand marks, were removed from the factory. The case is being carefully followed by the Germans. It is a serious test of occupation authority in one of the most important industrial areas of Europe. The Ruhr is being planned as a mainstay of the European Recovery Program.

And a footnote. The Harnack House, the fanciest officer and civilian club in Berlin, last night reversed itself and voted that if frauleins can be guests of the club, then enlisted men can be guests too. That settles that.

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