September 13, 2017

1950. Political Reshuffling on Both Sides of Germany

Shakeups in Berlin and Bonn
The Altes Museum in Berlin, 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

May 7, 1950

West German officials generally are optimistic over the outcome of the impending foreign ministers' conference in London, but the news in Berlin is overshadowed by rumors this morning from both sides of the Iron Curtain.

First there is the reported crisis conference which is supposed to be underway in Moscow between the Kremlin and leading German Communists.

Additionally, today the Berlin Socialist party claims it has inside information that there will be a shakeup in the cabinet of the East German puppet government. There is supposed to be dissatisfaction over the failure of the Communist administration to make progress toward the capture of West Berlin.

According to the Socialist press, Walter Ulbricht, the strongman behind the Communist satellite government, will come to the fore as prime minister, replacing Otto Grotewohl.

More light may be shed on the situation tomorrow when Grotewohl is scheduled to make a speech at the Russian memorial in Treptow. Today he signs the official telegram of thanks to Joseph Stalin on the occasion of the end of the war in Germany.

Chancellor Konrad Adenauer's right-wing Christian Democratic party in Bonn is reportedly sponsoring legislation designed to oust the fifteen Communist deputies from the West German federal parliament.

This is part of the bitter reaction to the recent Russian announcement that all German war prisoners in the USSR have been repatriated. One proposal is to outlaw the Communists under Basic Law No. 9, which makes organizations of an undemocratic character illegal.

At the same time, the CDU is proposing a new federal election bill to change the system of voting. This bill, when presented, would change the system of proportional representation to a straight majority vote. The CDU feels that no Communists would have been elected to the parliament if it had not been for proportional representation.

And just for the record, the official Russian newspaper says today that we weren't allies in the last war after all. "The Anglo-American imperialists," it says, "deceived their people grossly that they were the allies of the Soviet Union. Actually this was done only to get in a position of world mastery and for a fight against Russia."

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