November 30, 2017

1950. East Criticizes Western Preconditions for Reunifying Germany

Sharp Disagreement Over German Reunification
The Central Theater in Leipzig featuring East German National Front propaganda posters reading "Hand in Hand für ein Einiges Vaterland! Unsere Theater gehören dem Volk" ("Hand in hand for a united fatherland! Our theaters belong to the people"), 1951 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

March 1, 1950

The West made two moves today in a new attempt to solve the East-West division of Germany and to get some sort of rapprochement underway in the Cold War before the spring "crisis season" begins.

High Commissioner John J. McCloy's proposal for a unified Germany based on free elections in all occupation zones has received widespread approval in the Western press, but in the Communist newspapers it is called "agitation" which attacks the Russian-sponsored National Front, which is termed "the only basis for reunification."

More practical, and probably more important in the long run, is the agreement reached in Berlin by East and West German economic commissions to resume steel shipments from the Ruhr to the Russian zone. The Western high commissioners have also authorized the Bonn government to deliver $7 million worth of steel rails to Communist China, which would appear to forecast closer economic ties between East and West. These two moves give a substantial basis for closer relationships between the participants in the Cold War.

Some economists here see Moscow's announcement finally placing the ruble on the gold standard as an important step in the new Russian attempt to stimulate trade across the Iron Curtain, a development which will have a vital effect on the West German economy. The critical shortages in all phases of Eastern industry, particularly for spare parts and machine tools, is admitted in this morning's Tägliche Rundschau, the official Soviet newspaper.

In discussing the imminent spring planting season in East Germany's collectivized agriculture, the newspaper charges that 40 percent of the tractors to be used this spring are not workable because of the lack of spare parts. Rundschau also attacks German farmers for failing to cooperate in a fertilizer campaign and declares that some 29,000 tons of seed potatoes are still short for the 1950 crop.

High Commissioner McCloy leaves for Washington the day after tomorrow to appear before a Congressional appropriations committee and to confer with State Department officials in Washington. He will be absent from Germany for about a week.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

March 3, 1950

The East-West argument over Berlin is assuming all the characteristics of a neighborhood brawl today.

The Russian commandant has written another note to the three Western commandants. High Commissioner McCloy is being called all printable names this side of profanity, and a Communist propagandist has written another demand in the Eastern newspapers that all Americans go home.

The other day the American high commissioner reiterated US policy that a unified Germany is possible if free democratic elections were held throughout the country. Mr. McCloy also proposed that such elections would be possible on October 19, when the East German government is expected to allow a Communist-style election in the Soviet zone.

Reaction to this proposal has been particularly sharp. The Eastern newspapers call Mr. McCloy the "American satrap," a "liar," an "unmasked hypocrite," and say "the reason for his proposal is the shaking fear facing the increased movement of the National Front" under which the Communists propose German unity.

The "Go Home" campaign being directed particularly against Americans here today has an answer from the Western commanders. This campaign is aimed at the announced demonstration of more than a half million Eastern German youth on May 28.

This march, labeled the Deutschlandtreffen, is called "a transparent attempt to exploit German youth for Communist ends." General Maxwell Taylor and his colleagues endorsed a statement by Berlin's mayor that the Communist youth movement will not be allowed to march or demonstrate in the Western sectors of Berlin.

Any provocative acts or demonstrations which may be attempted will be suppressed, an official statement declares. "The commandants will take all necessary measures to assure the maintenance of public order and safety."

Thus does the fat get on the fire.

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