September 10, 2017

1949. Son of Communist Leader Max Reimann Escapes the Volkspolizei

"Different Ideas of Freedom"
A crowd gathers at a KPD rally in 1950 featuring Max Reimann as the main speaker. A banner reads "Wählt die Partei der Deutschen Einheit und Unabhaugkeit" ("Elect the Party of German Unity and Independence") (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

September 18, 1949

Eight young men dominate the news from Germany today in a tragedy of coincidence emerging from the current struggle between the East and West in this hapless country.

The coincidence is that all of these men are or were held by the Russians. As you know, four of them escaped from a Russian prison in Berlin two days ago. Recruit John J. Sienkiewicz of Baltimore, Maryland now is recovering from his ten month prison experience in the American military hospital here. The three British soldiers who escaped with him also are under hospital treatment. Another British soldier, according to the escapees, is still being held in the prison.

Additionally, the Soviet military authorities are still holding two young Pennsylvania college students picked up two and one-half months ago while trying to bicycle to Berlin without the proper credentials. All official demands for the release of the students have been unanswered by the Russians.

But an example of what the current East-West ideological clash is doing to Europe is best illustrated by the story of the eighth young man in today's news, the only German youth involved.

His name is Joseph Reimann. He is 23 years old and happens to be the son of West Germany's leading Communist, the handsome, graying Max Reimann.

Young Reimann fled to British authorities the other day for political asylum. He escaped a Communist people's police training camp in the Soviet zone. Previously the youth had spent four years as a war prisoner in Russia. His father arranged for his return and entry into the people's police. Young Reimann fled the camp because he said "he found that he was being trained for war."

About his father, the son declared: "He knows nothing except Communism. Let him go his way and I will go mine. We have different ideas of freedom."

This morning Max Reimann gives his paternal and party-like answer. "It is a shame to use this private affair as a political weapon against the Communist party and myself," the father said, and then added, "It is well known that I had no influence in the education of my son during the time of Hitler's regime. The last time I saw him, he was three years old."

In Bonn, the new West German republic is having growing pains. Chancellor-designate Konrad Adenauer is having trouble reconciling all the political leadership in his right-wing coalition and thus far has not been able to submit a cabinet for parliamentary approval.

It now appears that there will be a delay in the formation of the government, a delay that also holds up American, British, and French preparations to transfer their occupation from a military government to the civilian High Commission stewardship.

The ceremonies marking this change in occupation status were originally scheduled for Tuesday in Frankfurt. Now it appears that the Adenauer government may not come into being until later in the week.

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