September 17, 2017

1950. East German Lieutenant Testifies Soviets Building a German Army

Reports of an East German Military Force
"East German National People's Army soldiers man an unfinished part of the Berlin Wall on August 18, 1961 at the town's sector division in Berlin, Germany" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 28, 1950

A young German lieutenant in the Soviet zone People's Police testified in an American military court this morning that he is being trained in a nucleus Communist army in East Germany under the direction of Russian military authorities.

21-year-old Lieutenant Heinz Nocht, one of eight People's Police picked up in the American sector of Berlin two weeks ago, pleaded guilty to wearing the uniform of a paramilitary organization, to the possession of illegal weapons, and transporting these weapons.

Nocht and one other young German entered guilty pleas. The other six policemen will be tried next Tuesday.

The young man confirmed intelligence reports of long standing that Soviet authorities were building a German military force in their zone. Nocht specified he was a member of a military unit and not a police unit. These units will participate in May Day and Whitsun demonstrations in Berlin.

Nocht told the court that he joined the East German police upon his release from a Russian prison camp and that at first he had received normal police training. But suddenly he found himself transferred to Saxony, where he joined an infantry unit of between 800 and 1,000 men. There, Nocht said, he began getting basic military training the same as he had in Hitler's Wehrmacht.

The People's Police, Nocht testified, are training with armored cars, Russian and German tanks, automatic weapons, and artillery. Sometimes the training lasts ten hours a day. And always there was a session of Communist indoctrination from the unit's political commissar.

Nocht testified that there are 36 such units in the Russian zone of Germany, which would make the strength of this Communist armed force between 29 and 36 thousand men.

Included in the People's Police, Nocht said, is a naval unit stationed at a nearby inland port—there are also air force units under training which study military aviation theory and technique. Nocht said he did not know whether these units were supplied with planes.

Nocht said the truck carrying the eight People's policemen got into the American sector by mistake. He said he was on leave to East Berlin but that the truck and the other members of the group were in town to pick up supplies. Their unit is stationed at Magdeburg, near the British-Russian zonal border crossing point to the West.

The trial continues this afternoon.

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