740.00119 Control (Germany)/9–445: Telegram

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

448. American Military Government found on entering Berlin that Russian-created municipal administration had replaced former Nazi Blockleiter system with similar organization consisting of so-called Haus and Blockobmaenner. These individuals were almost entirely Communists and included many former concentration camp inmates. Though at first they undoubtedly performed certain useful and necessary functions, such as helping locate Nazis, distributing food cards, and mobilizing labor for street clearance work, it was clear that their status and activity also provided KPD with both detailed intelligence regarding most Berlin inhabitants and means of bringing considerable pressure to bear on such inhabitants. Among other things Obleute issued so-called certificates of political reliability exempting holder from certain unpleasant common tasks, and decided ration scale to which individual inhabitants were entitled.

It has been obvious for some weeks that system had developed into one of considerable tyranny. Military Government received many complaints of arbitrary behavior by the Obleute, alleging for example that this system was just as objectionable from viewpoint of individual rights and liberties as under the Nazis. At least one case has been reported of an Obmann forcing the inhabitants of a particular house in American sector to attend a KPD rally at which anti-American sentiments were expressed.56

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An example of how Communist propaganda has praised and supported this system was given in my telegram No. 428 September 1, 1945.57

I believe that our Military Government authorities have therefore acted wisely in issuing orders a few days ago for the liquidation of the Obmaenner system in American sector.

  1. By means of despatch 928, September 10, from Berlin, Mr. Murphy transmitted to the Department a memorandum by a member of his staff on the functioning of the Obleute system. In his despatch Mr. Murphy commented that the memorandum showed the Obleute system to be “as pernicious as that of the ‘Letters’ under the Nazis.” He felt that the memorandum also “clearly reveals the apparently disproportionate degree to which members and followers of the Communist Party control the municipal administrations in the American sector, either by weight of numbers or by being placed in strategic offices. This is a situation which may be slowly rectified with the passage of time and particularly if local elections should be held and should reveal that the Communist Party lacks majority support.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/9–1045)
  2. Not printed. In this telegram Mr. Murphy reported an article in the Communist Volkszeitung, August 19, praising the work of the Haus, and Strassenobleute. (862.9111 RR/9–145)