December 11, 2017

1949. Another East Berlin Political Assault on the Western Sectors

East Berlin Criticizes West; Germans Clean Up World War II Battlefields
"Formidable concrete walls took shape at the seven crossing points between East and West Berlin on December 4, 1961. The new walls were seven feet high and five feet thick. Only small passages for traffic were left open. In center of the Bornholmer Bridge (French/Russian sector border), behind steel tank traps, a big sign showing the East German emblem hammer and compass" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 6, 1949

Eastern Berlin Communists this morning announce a new political assault on the American, British, and French sectors of the city, calling on all Berliners to join them for the unification of Berlin and reject democratic controls in the Western two-thirds of the former German capital.

Over the weekend, the Communist-led Socialist Unity Party held a meeting wherein Franz Dahlem, leading party official, gave orders for a new political propaganda drive against West Berlin aimed at conquering the entire city and making the so-called "foes of the German people"—the Western Powers—abandon it.

The official Russian newspaper here, Tägliche Rundschau, however explains today that this will be a completely all-German campaign, that the Soviet military government is keeping hands-off—at least for the time being. Plans outline a call for lightning demonstrations in the Western sectors, teams of trained speakers to address these demonstrations, pamphlets, and so forth.

In other words, there will be an attempt to create another Berlin crisis this winter. But there appears little possibility of another blockade in the initial stages.

The British commandant of Berlin, General Bourne, today refused a Russian request for the return of a Soviet private soldier who sought political asylum in the British zone three weeks ago.

The British commandant sent a letter to Russian officials saying that it had been established that 21-year-old Andrei Shieka had not wandered into the British zone by mistake, as was claimed, but for the express purpose of requesting political asylum. "In accordance with the declared policy of His Majesty's Government, political asylum has been granted to him," the letter declares.

General Bourne added, however, that should Soviet authorities wish to interview the Russian GI for the purpose of satisfying themselves that he is not being detained against his will, the British will be happy to arrange a meeting.

The problem of housecleaning a nation after a war has been fought over it is more than a four-year job. In the Hürtgen Forest near Aachen, more than four hundred persons have lost their lives by wandering into minefields and stumbling on un-exploded ammunition.

Here in Berlin, cleanup gangs have been going over and over the Grunewald, the forest in West Berlin where one of the last battles for the city was fought. Last week they found seven antitank rockets, five hand grenades, and about twenty pounds of other ammunition.

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