October 8, 2017

1949. Dueling Governments Take Shape in Germany

Intelligence Reports of Increased Volkspolizei Activity
Soviet Ambassador Georgy Pushkin and East German President Wilhelm Pieck examine the people's police in East Berlin, November 4, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

August 26, 1949

Intelligence reports from the Soviet zone of Germany sound ominous today and are reviving speculation among authorities here that Berlin will again become a crisis city in the fall.

For the past week my sources have spoken of increased activity in the German people's police, the puppet armed forces of the Soviet zone.

Today, further reports confirm a new recruiting drive for the Communist police. Also there is news that new police units are being moved to barracks which surround Berlin and are so located at the terminating points of the elevated railroad that rapid rail movement of these forces into all sectors of the city would be the work of but a few hours.

Whether these moves are in preparation for a decisive action later, no Western official would speculate. But the intelligence persistently speaks of the establishment of new training schools for young Germans where instruction is given in the use of antiaircraft guns, artillery, rockets, and flamethrowers. One German unit is reported to be training in preparation for action in the Balkans, presumably against Tito.

While most of Germany's attention has been concentrating on the formation of the new Federal Republic in Bonn next month, the Communist leadership of East Germany has been making political preparations of its own.

I understand that the political parties of the Eastern zone have been instructed by the Soviet military administration to prepare for elections early in October. The elections would select delegates to a Soviet-sponsored state to be called the "Free German Republic."

The Russian memorandum ordered that the East zone splinter parties be allowed to submit their lists of candidates along with the Communists. However, the German party members, anxious to keep things under control, are proposing that in election rallies all parties must speak from the same platform and be allowed an equal amount of time to speak on the same subjects.

Thus when the winter comes, the East-West struggle in Germany will have two German governments in the front line—the Western-sponsored Federal Republic and the Russian-backed Free Republic.

The juxtaposition of the two Germanys should provide an international example of what the East and the West mean when they use the word "democracy."

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