740.00119 Control (Germany)/10–2845: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Secretary of State


869. The sixteenth meeting of the Coordinating Committee took place on Oct 26 with the French member presiding. The proposed [Page 888] law on the formation, control and functions of trade unions had been referred back to the Committee from the Council in view of the French attitude toward unions on a German national basis.45 The law permits and encourages formation of unions “within the whole of Germany,” and states that “with the consent of Military Govt, trade unions will be permitted at a local level and allowed to federate and amalgamate in larger organizations”.

The French member sought to amend this to provide that federation beyond the zonal boundaries would require the consent of the Control Council. He argued: (1) that permission should not now be given for national unions until they have been organized from the local level, and until the Council is satisfied that Nazis have been removed; (2) that this amendment does not change the substance of the proposed law. The other three members stated that they favored unions on a national basis now as a force against the reconstitution of Nazism. In view of the impasse, General Clay invited his British and Russian colleagues to consult with US Manpower authorities concerning interzonal unions.46 It was decided to refer this matter to the governmental level and so to report to the Control Council.

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  1. The omitted portion of this telegram reported the discussion of other questions by the Coordinating Committee. The section dealing with the transfer of populations from Poland is printed in vol. ii, p. 1302.
  2. A directive on the formation, function, and control of trade unions had been prepared and was considered by the Coordinating Committee at its eleventh meeting, October 3. The resulting discussions were reported to the Department in telegram 682, October 4, from Berlin, not printed. General Koeltz, the French member, wanted the directive amended to show that amalgamation of unions should not extend beyond the zones and should not become national. “General Clay took strong issue on this . . . . He stated that this argument underlies the Council’s reason for existence and the Four Power Government for Germany. He stated that he would take this position on each question which involved it. He stated that the principles of this directive are already accepted in the US zone and the only purpose of the directive is to make them universal in Germany. He was supported by Generals Sokolovsky and Robertson. General Koeltz then argued that unions are covered by Paragraph 10 of Section III A of the Potsdam agreement, that III A is a political article which stresses the decentralization principle. He stated that France is warmly in support of the decentralization decisions of Potsdam. This reasoning was denied by the others. It was decided to send the matter to the Legal Directorate for proper drafting for final decisions by the Council.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/10–445) Cf. Clay, Decision in Germany, p. 110.

    The Control Council considered the trade union proposal on October 20, and being unable to reach a decision had returned it to the Coordinating Committee; see telegram 820, October 20, from Berlin, p. 846.

  3. According to the minutes of the meeting (CORC/M(45)16), transmitted to the Department in despatch 1251, November 5, from Berlin, General Clay “invited the Soviet and British delegations to join with the American delegation in order to allow the three of them to carry out the proposed measures.” At one point in the debate General Clay suggested that the law be amended to provide for a national trade union organization “which may extend over Germany as a whole exclusive of the French zone.” His proposal was made “in the hope that the kind of action it envisaged might prevent the disintegration of the control machinery.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–545)

    For further consideration of the trade union question by the Control Council, see telegram 896, October 31, from Berlin, and telegram 1010, November 13, from Berlin, pp. 848, and 850, respectively. For documentation on the activities of the Soviet-sponsored Free German Trade Union League (FDGB) in the Soviet occupation zone and in Berlin, see pp. 1033 ff.