November 18, 2017

1949. Yugoslav Diplomats Detained in East Berlin

The Kremlin's War with Tito Hits Berlin
East German People's Police patrolling the Bornholmer Straße border crossing connecting the East and West Berlin, December 4, 1961 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 9, 1949

The Kremlin's war with Marshall Tito came to Berlin this morning with the house arrest of seventeen members of the Yugoslav mission to Germany in their homes in the Soviet sector of the city.

The Yugoslav mission, which maintains its quarters with the Russians but has its offices in the British sector of Berlin, long has been a political orphan here since Tito's break with the Cominform.

The mission was established under agreement of the Big Four powers. However, it was the East German Communist government which unilaterally delivered the order for the Yugoslavs to leave.

The decree was handed to the Tito mission last night. It charged that they were criminally disturbing law and order in the East German state. Sometime during the night, a police guard was put around the group of houses.

When one Yugoslav official tried to move his trunks out of his quarters and drive to West Berlin, both his trunks and his automobile were confiscated. Seventeen persons, including two children and an expectant mother, are now blockaded by People's Police.

Their telephone, however, has not yet been cut off. Colonel Sibinovic, the ranking officer there, said this morning that there is some food in the houses but that there is no milk for the children. Sibinovic said that his house had been searched by the police and his property confiscated.

A mission spokesman said he knew of no reason for the sudden action. The Yugoslavs have been walking a diplomatic chalk-line here. They attend both Eastern and Western social affairs and, since Marshal Tito's defection, have been living in a political vacuum.

This incident has been reported to the Western commandants who are considering a protest.

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