862.00/8–2245: Telegram

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

349. As already reported the two most active and influential political parties which have emerged in Berlin and the Russian occupation zone are the Communists and Social Democrats (see my 291, August 13, 9 p.m.). We have now had an opportunity to interview several members of Social Democrat Central Committee, results of which are summarized below:

There are definitely two wings to the party. Left Wing, typified by Gustav Dahrendorf, is for 100% cooperation with Communists, and seems just as anxious as Pieck and other Communist leaders to see outright merger of the two parties just as soon as rank and file can be educated thereto. This wing consists largely of more youthful members of party and their views on many issues, such as reparations and loss of territory to Poland and Russia, are thoroughly identified with those of the Communists. While generally opposed to return of émigré political leaders, they maintain the KPD leaders who have recently returned from Moscow are in a “special position.” They also support recent reintroduction of Arbeitsbuecher45 and establishment of Obmaenner46 under Russian auspices, both of which steps seem to have disturbed many of the more democratic Germans. On the whole this Left Wing might well be regarded as fellow travelers. Right Wing, typified by leaders such as Max Fechner and Otto Ostrowski, follows pre-Hitler Social Democrat pattern, looks to the west for political inspiration and still desires a democratic Socialist Germany. These leaders claim that Russians and Communists are not presently worrying much about the two center parties but are instead applying all possible pressure on Social Democrats, whom Communists obviously regard as their main political rival and problem. Right Wing believes its following is stronger than that of Left Wing, especially in Berlin and the Russian occupation zone. These leaders are most anxious to: (a) hold as soon as possible local party elections in Berlin, believing that the wide majority which they would receive under present conditions, due to general discrediting of Communists by Russian excesses, would greatly strengthen their position, both in [Page 1043] their party and vis-à-vis the Communist-dominated Berlin municipal administration; and (b) establish contact with Social Democrat leaders in American, British and French occupation zones and with certain émigré leaders such as Hans Vogel in England.

Right Wing leaders report following examples of Russian and Communist pressure and tactics. Two days before Allies entered Berlin, Russians forced them to move central party headquarters from American into Russian sector. Communist interpreters and other minor employees have been planted in this office, and party leaders are not supposed to see Americans without such individuals or Left Wing Social Democrats being present. Though nominally free to hold independent party meetings, they fear to do so, due to continuing cases of Russian objections, even from American and British sectors of city. Their newspaper Das Volk is only allowed to appear in 100,000 copies, though Communists have been permitted to print 150,000 of theirs, and Das Volk is subject to more stringent censorship than any other Berlin paper. Wilhelm Pieck and other Moscow German Communist leaders entered Berlin with the Red Army, and were at once given key positions in new municipal administration and allowed to organize as political party, Social Democrats only receiving permission to do the latter at a later date. Communists allegedly still dominate Berlin administration, even somewhat in British and American sectors. (American Military Government contacts have already confirmed this to my mission.)

These Right Wing leaders do not appear any more anti-Russian than before, but seem determined to do their best to prevent German working class from becoming dominated by undemocratic political leadership subservient to Moscow. This Berlin Social Democrat Central Committee is now pretty well organized through the Russian zone, though Right Wing realizes its control as support decreases out in the provinces, due to complete Russian occupation there.

It seems clear that if Left Wing elements should succeed in securing control of this newly organized Social Democrat Party throughout Germany and forcing through a full merger with the KPD, Communist political objectives might be realized without much difficulty. Another tentative conclusion which may be drawn is that German Social Democrat Party, like many other European socialist parties, is in some danger of splitting in two on the specific issue of cooperation and amalgamation with the Communists. Both Right and Left Wing leaders seem determined to prevent such a development, and it seems likely that the group which ultimately secures the party leadership will be able to swing most of the rank and file with it.

  1. Labor books; the workers’ employment record.
  2. Reference is either to Betriebsobmänner, minor union officials equivalent to shop stewards, or to minor officials of the Berlin municipal administration who functioned on the house and block level. For a description of the work of the latter, see telegram 448, September 4, from Berlin, p. 1047.