October 17, 2017

1949. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer Signs the Petersberg Agreement

Adenauer Negotiates Greater Sovereignty for West Germany
"Konrad Adenauer (second from left), Sept. 21, 1949, with the high commissioners of the occupation (left to right), America's John J. McCloy, Britain's Sir Brian Robertson and France's André François-Poncet" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 16, 1949

We know today at least some of the decisions taken by the three Western foreign ministers in Paris—decisions that slowly but surely are raising the West German state to a place of equality in the Western European community of nations.

In the first major foreign policy debate in the two-and-a-half month history of the German republic, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer revealed a five-point program under negotiation with the Western high commissioners.

First, it was agreed that the dismantling of German industry would be slowed almost to a halt until an Allied-German committee investigates the situation. However, plants which were devoted solely to war production during Hitler's regime will be torn down.

Adenauer said that technical legal reasons prevented the Western Allies from declaring an official end of the war with Germany but that this status will continue to exist in name only.

The high commissioners also agreed to lift restrictions on German shipbuilding to allow construction of bigger and faster oceangoing vessels. This means a revival of shipbuilding industries in Hamburg and Bremen and promises a resumption of world trade in German ships.

And finally, the Western occupation powers have agreed that the West German republic will be allowed to establish consulates and trade representatives wherever she wants in foreign countries—an important step in recognition of the sovereignty of the nation.

The opposition Socialist leader, Dr. Kurt Schumacher, attacked the German chancellor for conducting independent and secret negotiations without informing the parliament, but otherwise his criticism of the Allied-German negotiations was comparatively mild.

One West Berlin commentator today sees significance in difficulties at the big Russian war memorial in the Tiergarten. This memorial is a giant twenty-ton statue of a marching Russian soldier. The difficulty is that the memorial is so heavy that it is sinking into the ground.

This proves, the writer says, that the basis for Communism in Germany is extremely weak.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 18, 1949

The West German state today has moved officially into the Western European community of nations; a move agreed upon in negotiations between Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the three Western high commissioners.

In their second meeting at Allied headquarters at Petersberg, across the river from Bonn, it was decided that the new German republic should be allowed to join the International Patent Institute and at the same time to call upon German technicians and administrators for assistance in operation and organization of the institute. It means that German officials now will be appointed to The Hague, where the institute has its headquarters.

Other German authorities will be allowed to go to Brussels to join the European Customs Union study group, the commission assigned to integrate West European customs agreements to further our ECA affairs. German observers have been working with this commission, but now the high commissioners have promised the republic full membership.

On the other side of the Spree river, here in Berlin, the East German Communist government also is increasing its sovereignty among the Russian satellite nations. The East Berlin government is expanding its trade relations by sending commercial attachés to Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, and Peking.

But the Communist propaganda in East Germany today is turning most of its attention to December 21, the birthday of Joseph Stalin.

Workers are being urged to over-fulfill their quotas. One factory is building a locomotive to give to the Russian premier as a birthday present. A special committee has been appointed by the Eastern parliament to prepare the birthday celebrations.

But a new high in something or other was reached by a Communist political commentator who the other day wrote a long article supporting the thesis that Stalin's birthday on December 21 is a more important day historically than the birthday celebrated four days later, the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 25, 1949

The West German parliament at Bonn stayed up all night last night in the most stormy debate in its three-month history. And when the meeting broke up a few hours ago, the right-wing government had suspended the opposition Socialist leader, Dr. Kurt Schumacher, for insulting Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. The parliament then gave its approval of Adenauer's signing of an agreement with the Western high commissioners.

Schumacher, the most vitriolic politician in Germany, led the opposition debate against Adenauer, charging the German chancellor with superseding the constitution by signing agreements without the approval of parliament. The blowup came when the one-legged, one-armed Schumacher shouted that Adenauer was the "chancellor of the Allies" and not the German republic.

He refused to withdraw his statement. The parliament's legal committee went into session, decided the chancellor had been insulted, and ordered that Schumacher be suspended from the floor of the Bundestag for the next twenty sessions.

The new international agreement is generally hailed in Western Germany as a great step forward for the West German republic. It provides a drastic curtailment of dismantling, allows the republic to establish consulates abroad, places West Germany on the international Ruhr control board, guarantees her cooperation in the demilitarization, and allows Germany to begin reconstruction of her merchant marine.

But the most important point for the Germans is the ending of dismantling of eighteen important iron, chemical, and synthetic oil plants formerly earmarked for destruction. Economists estimate that this means some fifty thousand jobs will be saved for German workers.

In the Ruhr valley this morning flags were raised over the plants saved by the agreement. Dismantling crews sent only token gangs into the plants to remove their tools and work clothing.

Entrances to the plant were decorated with tree branches, and pamphlets were distributed. The theme: "The Ruhr has won the day."

But the Communists disagree. They charge that Adenauer's signing of the agreement is treason—now West Germany has become an American colony in a gigantic military plan to make war against Russia.

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