November 24, 2017

1950. Opposite Reactions in Germany to Truman's Hydrogen Bomb Decision

Traffic Slowdown at Helmstedt-Marienborn Checkpoint
British motorized units near the Berlin sector border, June 1, 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

February 1, 1950

President Truman's decision to proceed with the construction of the hydrogen bomb is the big news in Germany today. As is to be expected, German reaction depends upon which side of the Iron Curtain from which it comes.

Perhaps the most typical reaction from the West is the headline of an editorial in the British-licensed newspaper The Telegraph. This headline asks, "Peace Through Power?" with a great big question mark behind it. The paper says that it is the fault of the Kremlin that world statesmen are returning to the principle that "if you would have peace, prepare for war."

Berlin's leading Communist newspapers evidently haven't got the word from Moscow yet. Tägliche Rundschau carries the decision in a three-line item. But the German party paper Berliner Zeitung declares that President Truman's order means recognition of the use of mass destruction methods which have been outlawed by "the entire civilized and peaceful world as fascist barbarity."

The Russian-controlled Berlin radio station said that the entire world is indignant because of the American decision.

These events, however, haven't changed a thing at the Helmstedt checkpoint on the autobahn to Berlin.

More than 100 trucks are lined up there now as the Russians continue their slowdown of vehicle shipping to this city. The rate today is four or five trucks an hour with no sign of a letup. As a matter of fact, East German transport authorities are hinting that there may be interference with rail traffic too.

Again the sensitive spot is the elevated rail system which handles traffic in and out of the city. The Russian-controlled rail management today charges that new terror attacks are being made against the system; that trained saboteurs have caused serious damage.

All sectors have been having trouble with thieves who have been cutting out sections of copper cable for sale to Berlin industries. And last night there was a bad collision between two elevated trains in the French sector. This was due, however, to a faulty signal which the rail management had failed to repair.

It is possible that the Eastern transportation authorities could use the elevated as an excuse for slowing down train traffic, just as they now are slowing truck traffic.

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