April 30, 2017

1949. The CDU and SPD Seek Compromise on New Constitution

New Plan for Berlin
The 1st Bundestag convenes for the first time in Bonn, Germany, September 7, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 21, 1949

The great Berlin Blockade "mystery" is becoming even more elusive today, with no indication that there is anything more than rumor to the recent reports that the Russians are going to lift their blockade.

Last night the rump government of Eastern Berlin announced that Oberbürgermeister Fritz Ebert would make a statement this morning on the "new plan for Berlin." However, this morning the special East magistrate meeting and the Ebert press conference were called off. No explanation was given.

Some observers connect this incident with the proceedings of the Social Democratic Party meeting completed last night in Hanover. The Socialists met in an attempt to reach agreement on a compromise constitution for the West German government. However, last night the Socialist party leaders turned down a compromise and submitted their own short-form constitution. Thus it would appear that there will be yet further delay in the establishment of the West German government. It had been hoped that the final details on the constitution would be agreed upon by German political leaders and the Western occupation powers at their meeting next Monday.

Thus if the Socialists and the Christian Democrats are going to continue their wrangling over the constitution for the West German government, the Communists will not be forced to act to lift the blockade in an effort to frustrate the formation of such a government.

Today the German Communists urge the Socialists not to cooperate with the right-wing Christian Democrats or with the Western occupation powers in forming the government. The Communists want to form a coalition with the Socialists to work for what they call the unity of Germany.

The blockade-lifitng fever which has spread throughout Berlin cooled somewhat today. Heinrich Rau, chairman of the Soviet zone economic council, denied that there have been any moves by his organization to reopen trade with Western Germany.

The issue now hinges on what the West German politicians achieve in the next four days. Representatives of the Socialists and the Christian Democrats will convene this weekend before they meet again on Monday with the Western military governors. If they work out a compromise by then and proceed with the formation of the West German government, the blockade-lifting fever will rise again.

If not and there is more delay, then there probably will be no change in the East-West split over Germany.

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

April 29, 2017

1949. Social Democrats Accuse Soviets of Espionage

Dueling Political Movements in West Germany
East German Foreign Minister Georg Dertinger at the swearing-in of the first cabinet of the newly founded German Democratic Republic, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

February 7, 1949

The Social Democratic Party in West Berlin and West Germany has long been known to have one of the best intelligence networks operating in the Soviet zone of Germany. The Socialists, who swept last December's Berlin elections, have been collecting information of Communist operations in the Russian-sponsored civil administrations of East Germany.

Today they announced that they have uncovered an espionage system in the Soviet zone in which the Soviet secret police force Germans to spy on other Germans who might not be in sympathy with Communist policy.

Willy Brandt, a Socialist party leader in Berlin, said this morning that for every one thousand Germans there are about four persons assigned to report to the secret police. If these Germans refuse, their families are threatened.

However, Brandt says that the Social Democratic Party already has a list of the names of five hundred of these informants which it soon intends to publish. These agents, he said, later will be punished for their activity.

The East German political leaders also are thinking in underground terms. Georg Dertinger, officer in the pro-Communist wing of the Christian Democratic Union, yesterday demanded the creation of a "German resistance movement" in the American, British, and French zones. This so-called "liberation movement," as he termed it, would be organized to eliminate Western German politicians now working with the Western Powers.

The British-licensed newspaper The Telegraph today reports the construction of a new underground, bomb-proof headquarters for the Soviet military command on the eastern outskirts of Berlin. The paper says the bunker consists of 370 rooms, has direct telephone communications with Moscow, and has its own electrical and air conditioning system. It took a year to complete. The site used to be a ball-bearing factory, dismantled by the Russians and later converted into a headquarters.

The bunker will be used, the paper says, in the event of an emergency.

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

April 28, 2017

1933. Hitler Responds to American Protests Against Anti-Semitism

"What Does America Think About the New Germany?"
Storefront in the United States with a sign by the American Jewish War Veterans supporting a boycott of Nazi Germany, 1930s (source)
These articles are part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Italy and Germany prior to World War II. In 1933, two months after the Nazis came to power, The New York Times reported on Hitler's response to American criticism of the his regime's rabid anti-Semitism. Hitler accused the United States of hypocrisy due to its own systemic racism, citing its immigration ban on Asia and refusal to accept Jewish refugees.

From The New York Times, April 7, 1933:
Asserts We Have Least Right to Attack Anti-Semitism in View of Our Ban on Yellow Race
Demands Early Elimination of Their 'Preponderance' From German Cultural Life
Chancellor Says Newspapers Must Create Uniform Attitude—Admits 'Deplorable Phenomena'

BERLIN, April 6 — For the first time since he became Chancellor, Adolf Hitler issued a pronouncement on the Jewish question today, and this pronouncement was an endorsement of the anti-Semitic drive in Germany, together with a declaration that the United States had no business to protest because of its own racial discrimination through an immigration embargo.

The Chancellor expressed his views at a reception to the new leaders of the German Federation of Medical Associations, which, like many other organizations, has been placed under a National Socialist commissioner. His statement destroyed the hopes of those who had interpreted his silence during the height of the anti-Jewish boycott as disapproval of it.

"We must meet the natural demand of Germany for intellectual leadership according to our own kind by the early elimination of the preponderance of Jewish intellectuals from our cultural and spiritual life," Chancellor Hitler said. "True intellectual achievements have never been made by racial aliens, but always by strictly Aryan Germanic spiritual forces.

Denies Germans Are Inferior

"Considering the narrow confines within which German intellectual work has been restricted, our own people have an actual moral right to first-place preference. The admission of too large a number of aliens in comparison with the total number of our people might be interpreted as acknowledgment of the intellectual inferiority of our race, which we most certainly deny."

Referring to protests in the United States against the anti-Semitic tendencies of the regime in Germany, Herr Hitler said:

"America, which leads all other countries in the strong counter-movement, has least of all had reason for the protest. The American people were the first to draw practical political consequences from the differentiation of races. Through its immigration law America has inhibited the unwelcome influx of such races as it has been unable to tolerate within its midst.

"Nor is America ready now to open its doors to Jews 'fleeing from Germany.'"

The Chancellor called upon German doctors to lead in the movement to refine the German race.

"The hygienic purging process now under way may not show its results for a hundred years, but our first aim is to provide a firm foundation for future political development," he said.
Admits "Deplorable Phenomena"

Addressing a gathering of German provincial editors tonight, Chancellor Hitler for the first time admitted "deplorable phenomena" in effectuating the national revolution, but laid the blame on previous governments, which, he said, had pent up explosive forces in Germany, and the unsympathetic outside world, which had not recognized Germany's aspirations.

Then the Chancellor told the editors that their duty was to cooperate in creating a uniform attitude of mind and will in the German people in support of the new regime.

Going back to 1918 for excuses for the "deplorable phenomena" that he admitted, Chancellor Hitler declared that the repression of the national opposition to the regimes since then and the opposition of Germany's natural claims by the outside world had led inevitably to a damming up of explosive forces that in the end had to lead to a national overturn.

"It was inevitable under such circumstances that developments must be accompanied by some deplorable phenomena, but these should be judged not from a static and objective standpoint, but in reference to the psychology of war," the Chancellor said. "It will be a blessing indeed if the proper insight of reasonable persons will smooth the way for the government, but it is the duty of the government to carry through the measures it considers necessary for the good of the nation even in the face of resistance."

Calls Press Means to an End

In these great days, Herr Hitler said in conclusion, the press had a mission to perform; it must recognize that it was not an end in itself but a means to an end, and this end was cooperation in creating a uniform attitude of mind and will on the part of the German people.

"The right to criticism must be limited to the service of the truth!" he exclaimed. "It is quite intolerable that criticism should be turned into a cloak for treasonable attempts against the vital interests of the nation."

Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, announced at the same gathering that a new press law would be issued soon. He said the press was "indispensable to the government forces."

As evidence of this indispensability he declared that the government sought more confidential relations with the press than former governments enjoyed, and as proof of the genuineness of its wish to procure such relations he cited the fact that the government had placed the press under the direction of his Propaganda Ministry.

Of the forthcoming press law Dr. Goebbels said:

"It will newly regulate the relation of the press to political forces supporting the State and will establish the occupation status of journalists clearly and unequivocally. It will give unto the press what belongs to the press but will also secure the government's due rights.

"Like all revolutions, this one has created facts giving rise to a new legal situation. In one way or another all facts must accept this state of affairs, whether for or against the new regime. Opposition is futile. The government can only hope that the entire German press will recognize not only the irrevocableness of the overturn but also its inherent greatness and historic import.

"The idea of unqualified freedom of the press belongs to that period of liberalism that we have done with. It was a notion of liberty that derived from an idea of individual freedom that really degenerated into lawlessness."
"Four Nazi troops sing in front of the Berlin branch of the Woolworth Co. store during the movement to boycott Jewish presence in Germany," March 1, 1933 (source)
Later that year New York Times correspondent Otto D. Tolischus reported on the German concerns about American opinion.

From The New York Times, August 22, 1933:
Hostility of Other Nations to Nazi Measures Begins to Trouble Them
But Mayor of Mannheim Shows Wealth of Confidence in Steps Guided by Hitler


MANNHEIM, Germany, Aug. 21 — The question which the American traveler in Germany is beginning to hear more and more frequently and with an increasingly understanding tone is, "What does America think about the new Germany?"

The Reich Ministry of Propaganda has given up the effort to conceal Germany's isolation, and the waves of hostility swirling around the country trouble the sleep of responsible persons, especially in an industrial town like Mannheim, where foreign antagonism means canceled orders, which in turn impede the attainment of the Nazis' prime objective, on which they stake their existence—namely, a solution of the unemployment problem.

The hostility in most countries is explained by Germans, at least to their own satisfaction, as old political and commercial rivalries, but the attitude of America is watched, especially because of America's decisive role in world economy and because the Germans are convinced America is beginning to swing into the Fascist camp.

The parallelism, even if there is no identity between the measures of President Roosevelt and those of Chancellor Hitler, is a favorite topic of discussion in Germany, especially among those who believe the Fascist ideology is destined to conquer the world. If told that American public opinion is less friendly, Germans point with pride to the achievements of Hitlerism—restoration of law and order, political peace, reduction of unemployment, an economic upswing and a new atmosphere of hope and national self-respect.

And the average tourist might easily be persuaded of the truth of these claims. On the surface Germany never was more orderly or more peaceful than she is today. The political struggle of the last few years, which resembled civil war and took a daily toll of dead and wounded in some parts of the country, has come to an end. The Nazis rule supreme, and their rule is so firmly entrenched that they are able to dispense a constant show of force.

In Mannheim, for instance, there are few outward signs of the national revolution. Since some Nazis attempted to use a hypnotic influence of their uniforms on the authorities for their own private profit, the uniforms have been forbidden except while Nazis are on duty and have practically disappeared from the streets. Only on Sundays, when Nazis hold propaganda marches, singing "To the Guns, People," does the new regime become more visible.

To find the national revolution at work it is necessary to read the Nazi press, investigate the situation of the Jews and "Marxists," view the concentration camps, learn of the daily arrests of political opponents of the Nazis, realize the suppression of political freedom, liberty of the press and freedom of assembly, and watch the people furtively look around before talking.

When responsible Nazis are told that America is unable to understand these things, the answer is likely to be the same as that given to a correspondent by Carl Renninger, manufacturer, who is now Mayor of Mannheim and who commands the respect even of his opponents because of his efficiency.

Says We Face Problem of Reds

"Who does America understand?" he exclaimed. "We take the Communists and put them into camps, where they learn to work and are taught to become human beings. America herself will have to face the Communist problem some day.

"The Jews? They have nothing to fear from us. They can buy and sell here, own property and conduct their business. But when they attempt to govern us and take leading positions in public and business organizations, we say no. So long as they keep to themselves and attend to their own business no one will harm them."

When the correspondent called attention to the attacks of the Nazi press Herr Renninger said:

"Well, every so often it is necessary to use a club. Some believe we are not serious and begin to resume their old ways. These must be put in their place. This part of the program will be carried out rigorously. We want the Jews to make no mistake about it. Once they realize this they will find their place and the friction will end."

The principal aim of the Nazi regime, Herr Renninger said, was to restore confidence and order and to persuade business to go ahead with the conviction that "now is the time."

"Many are sitting back waiting, saying, 'Let the State do it,'" he asserted. "This is not the idea. Help must come from private initiative. On the other hand, many projects are ripe for execution. Here is where the city comes in. We spent 20,000,000 marks annually on welfare support. Now we take the money of this fund and put it to productive work. This, together with private sums available, creates new values and puts men to work, who in turn provide employment for other men and thus start a wave of general recovery.

"America has tried to start the same process by raising prices. We start at the bottom and go a harder but, we believe, a healthier road.

"The best thing in the Nazi movement is idealism—a desire to do something for the sake of the idea, without expectation of personal reward. The vast majority realize Chancellor Hitler's idealism and, therefore, support him. Thank God for Adolf Hitler, he has made the German people one united nation."

April 27, 2017

1943. Axis Forces Encircled Near Rostov

Nazis Face Another Stalingrad-Like Disaster
"Disaster Threatens Nazis in Donets: Sweeping gains for the Russian armies north of Rostov, threatening a Stalingrad-like disaster for 500,000 Nazis in the Donets area, were reported yesterday as the Reds captured rail junctions cutting off main avenues of retreat. As Soviets (1) menaced Kharkov, other Slavic forces in the Caucasus (2) pushed on after seizing Krasnodar. Ponyri (A) was captured and the Soviets pushed on toward Orel. The lined area is Russian-held and the black line represents the approximate battle front"
Distributed by the International News Service and printed in The Charleston Gazette, February 14, 1943, pp. 1-2:
Soviets Win Major Railways, Cut Retreat of 500,0000 Nazis
Foe Said Putting Torch to Rostov
Disaster Akin to Stalingrad Threatening Germans In Donets Area

MOSCOW, Feb. 13 (INS) — Soviet troops today captured Novocherkassk to drive within 20 miles northeast of Rostov, and simultaneously occupied Zolochev, 20 miles northwest of Kharkov, where they cut another major railway leading to central Russia.

A special communiqué tonight also disclosed occupation of the key junction of Likhaya, 62 miles north of Rostov where the Voronezh-Rostov railway crosses both the northern crook of the Donets river bend and the Stalingrad-Donets rail line.

Rostov Reported Afire

Driving down the railway from Voronezh, the same Russian column overran Zverevo, five miles below Likhaya and 57 north of Rostov around which an arc was rapidly closing the north, northeast and south.

(Bill Downs, CBS correspondent at Moscow, broadcast unconfirmed reports in the Soviet capital that the Germans are setting the "entire city" of Rostov afire. A London broadcast heard by CBS said the Nazi garrison at the Caucasian gateway city was being shelled from three sides and that the Germans had "already lost their advance fortifications, but their defense is most stubborn.")

The special bulletin also announced the capture of Novo-Shakhty, 15 miles northwest of Shakhty, which is 10 miles above Novocherkassk. Shakhty was occupied Friday and the Red Army now controls the entire railway from Voronezh through that town down to Novocherkassk.

Some 125 miles northwest of Novocherkassk, Gen. Nikolai F. Vatutin's army was declared earlier to have overrun another 45 enemy strong-points south of the vital junction of Krasnoarmeisk, occupied Friday. This push came to within 70 miles above the northern Azov seacoast and 25 miles north of Stalino, controlling the last rail line of retreat left to an estimated half million German troops in the Donets-Rostov region.

Rout Like Stalingrad Looms

A disaster akin to that of Stalingrad threatened hourly to overtake the latter enemy forces.

Russian capture of Zolochev, announced in the special communiqué, cut the sixth of eight railways radiating out of Kharkov. Zolochev lies 20 miles northwest of the Ukrainian industrial capital on the line to Bryansk, 200 miles southwest of Moscow.

Its capture meant that one of at least four Russian armies, which have converged to within 18 miles of Kharkov, by-passed the queen city of the Ukraine on the north in a westward overland advance of some 20 miles from the Belgorod-Kharkov rail line.

Only 2 Rails Open

Only two of the eight trunk railways leading out of Kharkov remain available for the escape of the huge German garrison now threatened with complete encirclement. One leads due west to the Ukrainian administrative capital of Kiev, 160 miles away, with a branch threading northwest to Konotop and the western Russian rail system. The other runs 130 miles southwest to the German base of Dniepropetrovsk on the Dnieper river bend, already menaced by a Soviet column that captured Lozovaya, 65 miles to the northeast.

The closest Russian spearhead aimed at Kharkov was last reported striking beyond Chuguyev to a point less than 18 miles east-southeast of the "Russian Pittsburgh."

"On Feb. 13," said the special Soviet bulletin, "our forces as the result of a determined attack captured the town of Novocherkassk. Units under the command of Maj. Gen. Lutvenko were the first to break into the town. Troops of Maj. Gen. Shlemin, continuing the offensive, captured the town and large railway junction of Likhaya and the town and railway station of Zverevo.

"Our troops also captured the town of Novo-Shakhty.

"In the Ukraine as a result of stubborn fighting our troops occupied the town and railway station of Zolochev."

Likhaya, one of the most bitterly defended German strongholds in the south, already had been bypassed on the east by Soviet columns which had fought their way across the Donets bend to break the main German defense line shielding Rostov from the north.