October 29, 2017

1949. Reports of a Shakeup for the U.S. Military Government in Germany

Plans for Shift of Responsibility to the State Department
"American and Russian soldiers during the Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of the entrance to Spandau Prison," 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 30, 1949

The impending revision of American military government in Germany, following the Secretary of War's request to shift the responsibility from the Army to the State Department, is not expected to take place before next summer.

Authorities here believe that there is little likelihood that General Clay would step out of his job as American military governor until a provisional government for the Western zones has been established by the Germans.

German politicians right now are writing a constitution in Bonn. They do not think they will complete their work until June or July.

For many months General Clay has been stating privately that he has held the exacting and difficult job in Berlin too long—that he is extremely tired.

Also it has been the opinion of many experts here that the function of directing policy on so vital a matter as Germany belongs to the State Department and not the Army.

Criticism of the present military governor that General Clay has made police on his own—that he has acted first before getting instructions—mostly has been the result of the division of authority between the State Department and the Army in Washington.

Reports have been current for some time that a shakeup is due in American military government here, possibly as the first step in a State Department campaign to reach some kind of settlement with the Soviet Union over the German problem.

Diplomatic observers, in adding up conciliatory speeches from Italian and French communists, President Truman's expressed desire for understanding, and America's new State Department leadership—all of these things seemed to point to important new diplomatic moves.

However, here in Berlin this morning, any existing optimism has almost vanished. The new Russian attacks against the North American defense pact and the vitriolic charges of sabotaging of the peace by Western Powers seems to have set the diplomatic clock back exactly where it was seven months ago when Russia imposed the Berlin Blockade.

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