October 18, 2017

1949. Labor Leader Walter Reuther Visits Germany

Allied Occupation Policy Criticized
"Labor leader Walter Reuther in Germany, 1953" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 4, 1949

The question of what is a good German and what is a bad German continues to plague Western occupation authorities today. The American High Commission here released the results of a survey claiming that German nationalism is waning—although the survey admits that there has been evidence of this malady in many places.

The office of public opinion says that the recent elections in West Germany were evidence of the collapse of the disease; that only ten percent of the representatives elected have definite chauvinistic tendencies.

Paradoxically, the public opinion survey also revealed that 75 percent of the Germans questioned still believe that the East German territories lost in the war should be returned, including the city of Danzig.

Walter Reuther, head of the CIO United Automobile Workers union, also has something to say on the question of revived German nationalism. He attacked the American and British occupation policy in the Ruhr, charging that we are returning ownership and control of the vital Ruhr industries to the same men who put Hitler into power.

Reuther said that American economic policy vetoed a move to socialize the Ruhr. "The best way to ensure that Ruhr production will not again become war production is to put the industries into the hands of the people."

Reuther is here to confer with leaders of the independent, anti-Communist trade unions and other city officials. The union leader goes to Frankfurt this afternoon to confer with High Commissioner John McCloy.

The mayor of Berlin, Ernst Reuter, this morning has some encouraging things to report about his city. The Berlin economic crisis has finally hit bottom and is on its way to recovery.

Oberb├╝rgermeister Reuter told a city council meeting that more jobs are opening up, more people are searching for real work, and unemployment figures finally are falling.

Reuther however warned that Berlin would continue to be the world's crisis city. "The fate of Berlin is the fate of Europe," he declared, "and Europe does not end at the Rhine."

The first international sporting event this city has witnessed since the end of the war is now in its third day. The six-day bicycle race is drawing big crowds here. This morning a team composed of a Belgian and a German racer is leading by 56 points over their nearest competitors, a team from Australia and Switzerland.

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