November 10, 2017

1949. East Berlin Celebrates Stalin's Birthday

Joseph Stalin Turns Seventy
Demonstration in Berlin marks the renaming of Frankfurter Allee to "Stalinallee" as part of celebrations honoring the seventieth birthday of Joseph Stalin (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 21, 1949

Communist orators are knocking themselves out today throughout East Berlin and Eastern Germany in enthusiastic satellite celebrations of the seventieth birthday of Joseph Stalin.

Thus far nothing but idolatry has emerged from a special session of the East German parliament. Last night puppet president Wilhelm Pieck spent an hour pledging his Communist government's everlasting allegiance to the Soviet Union. And I heard for the first time the new Stalin cantata composed in honor of the occasion. It is a remarkably good piece of music.

In half an hour from now, a mass demonstration is scheduled on Frankfurter Allee to rename that street to Stalinallee. The subway and elevated station names there already have been changed.

So far there have been no incidents. East Berlin police this morning had to clean up some anti-Stalin pamphlets thrown on Unter den Linden in front of the House of Soviet Culture.

This evening there will be a counter-demonstration in the French sector of the city against all the Stalin birthday celebrations. This meeting is being sponsored by the so-called "Independent Workers' Party of Germany," a group of anti-Stalinist German Communists who are trying to advance Titoism in the party. These German Titoists have instructed their numbers to show up in their black caps and red neckties, the symbols of membership in the organization.

All official buildings in East Germany are decorated with red flags. On the front of State Opera house, where many of the demonstrations are being held, a twenty-one foot high picture of the Russian premier has been put up with an arm nine feet long pointing skyward.

Special editions of the Communist press print the official picture of Stalin—a surprisingly youthful portrait showing him less gray and more lean than the pictures printed last year.

Editorial comment in the Communist press centers around the theme that the German people must "Learn from Stalin, Believe in Stalin, and Fight with Stalin."

Everything will be back to normal tomorrow.

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