November 21, 2017

1949. Far-Right Nationalist Movement Emerges in Bavaria

East Germany Changes Leadership, West Deals with Far-Right
Mass rally at Bebelplatz in East Berlin to mark the founding of the German Democratic Republic and the election of Wilhelm Pieck, October 11, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 18, 1949

American occupation authorities today have launched an investigation into an alleged neo-Nazi movement in Bavaria.

The investigation coincides with the new Allied High Commission law designed to prevent the resurgence of militarism and Nazism in Germany. The law provides punishment up to life imprisonment and a fine of $25,000 "for any activity which leads to militarism or which is contrary to the prohibition of National Socialist organizations or other organizations of a military character."

The leader of the Bavarian movement is a 27-year-old gardener, Karl Feitenhansl. Feitenhansl has been in difficulty ever since he organized his right-wing Patriotic Union. His meetings have been broken up by protests of the Socialists as well as the Bavarian Communists.

At his latest secret meeting, held in a Munich ratskeller, the Bavarian nationalist is alleged to have shouted, "Down with the anti-nationalistic traitors who have sold themselves to the Allies. The behavior of the German soldiers was better than the Allied soldiers now."

The Patriotic Union claims a membership of 25,000, including many former Nazi officials and SS members.

The East German satellite government today reveals a drastic change in its Communist leadership, confirming a long-rumored shakeup in its administrative directorate.

The announcement recognizes the Deputy Minister-President, Walter Ulbricht, as the new strongman of the East German state, pushing old-time Communist leader Wilhelm Pieck into the background and perhaps deposing Otto Grotewohl as prime minister of the German Communist government.

The statement carried in the Communist press this morning announces change in the leadership of the German mission to Moscow to congratulate Stalin on his birthday. The announcement says that "urgent affairs of the state which demand his presence in Berlin are the reasons that State President Wilhelm Pieck cannot join the delegation. Instead of Herr Pieck, Ulbricht will fly to Moscow."

This move is believed to be the direct result of Foreign Minister Vyshinsky's conferences here two days ago. Ulbricht has been a member of the German Communist Party since the First World War. During the last war he lived and worked in the Soviet Union.

Pieck now will probably take the position of elder statesman in Germany unless he is completely purged. He is 73-years-old and approaching senility.

Prime Minister Grotewohl is in a Russian military hospital for what has been variously described as a cold, a nervous breakdown, or attempted suicide. Whether he will return to his position in the Communist government is regarded here as questionable.