740.00119 control (Germany)/9–245: Telegram

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

598. Following obtained from apparently reliable source (former German Ambassador Von Kemnitz71) regarding land reform in Saxony Province, where Russians and Communists first took action on this program.

Dr. Huebener, President of Provincial Government apparently more or less a figurehead for Communist-dominated administration, states confidentially that the decree on land reform was placed before him in its final form by local Russian commander, with instructions that he need only to sign it. In other, words, he was permitted to take no part in its preparation, which was presumably the work of his Communist deputy Siewert.

At four-party meeting held in Halle just before signing of this decree, Russian commander first persuaded CDU (Christian Democratic Union) representative to withdraw his objections by tactics mentioned in my 515, September 14, 1 p.m., and then persuaded LDP representative to do likewise by asking him whether he wished his party to be “only one” of the four opposing this program which had been so obviously demanded by the anti-fascist forces of Saxony.

According to our source, the local committee to execute the program is being selected by calling together peasants, farm workers et cetera and confronting them with list of candidates already selected by KPD and thus no opportunity to vote otherwise. Source adds that though many small farmers and agricultural workers naturally want their own land, there is considerable apprehension due to way program is so obviously being pushed through under Russian and Communist direction. It is also apparent that KPD is trying to gain many new members by telling potential recipients of land that if they support their local committee and join the KPD, they will receive preferential treatment.

Finally, source describes agricultural situation in his home area near Halle as chaotic and almost desperate, in view of drastic removals of livestock and farm equipment by Russians, as well as probable effect on total food production to be expected from so suddenly breaking up the larger food producing units. In this connection, it is worth noting that Time and Life correspondent John Scott, a few days ago asked Edwin Hoernele, KPD leader and Minister of Agriculture in new Russian zonal administration, as to effects of land [Page 1059] reform on food production and was assured that it should actually increase it as it would “spur the peasants on to greater efforts in bringing in the harvest this year”.

This statement appears somewhat optimistic, but at least this is presumably the current Communist stock reply on the subject.

I discussed the general subject of land reform informally with Sobolev a day or two ago. He told me the responsibility for carrying out this much-needed reform has been left up to the Germans themselves and that its primary objective is to deprive the Junker class of their holdings which serve as a basis for their war-making potential.

  1. Possibly Hans Arthur von Kemnitz.