862.5043/10–745: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Caffery ) to the Secretary of State

5901. In a conversation on October 4 with the Labor Office of the Berlin Mission Hans Jahn stated the following with regard to trade [Page 1062] unionism and labor political affairs in Germany: Jahn had by the middle of September completed a tour of all the major cities of the American, French and British Zones of Germany where he saw trade unionists and gave them instructions and advice for organizing. In the British Zone the organization of unions has just begun although there and elsewhere the railroad workers have organized illegally without Military Government authorization. In Bavaria no trade unions were permitted as of the time he was there. Throughout all three zones the railway workers are ready to form a regional or wider union now if this is permitted.

In all these localities the union movements are led by old men usually pre-Nazi unionists. Jahn feels it one of his primary tasks to develop a union educational system to train young leaders.

He has also been visited by many friends from the Russian Zone. There is no democracy in the unions there and apparently cannot be. Politically the Communists have lost much strength which the Social Democrats have gained. He believes that the Social Democrats would get 75% of the votes in the entire Soviet Zone if elections were held tomorrow. Knowing this the KPD is pressing the SPD for a merger. But “serious” Communists have told Jahn that Russia has embarked on an imperialistic course with which they cannot agree. The position of democratic minded leaders in the Berlin Union Federation is almost as difficult as that in the Soviet Zone. Otto Brass is definitely a Communist but is weak and old. Hans Jendretski is a strong Communist while Paul Walter is weak. Roman Chwalek a strong man has been drawing away from Ulbricht and is in danger of being spirited away. Schlimme the strongest of the Democrats has liver trouble and cannot be as active as he otherwise might be. Jahn believes that the western Allies should be prepared to evacuate democratic leaders from the Berlin area in case their lives are endangered in the future. He also discussed with Oldenbroeck and others what would happen if the western Allies decided to withdraw from Berlin.

As a result of Jahn’s appeal the Danish Trade Unions are preparing to ship food this winter to keep the “best” leaders in Germany alive. The Danes are negotiating to purchase American Army trucks for this purpose. The Swiss Union plans to do likewise and also to ship prefabricated barracks. However the delivery of these things may take two or three months and Jahn would like some Allied aid in the meantime.

He is certain that many thousands will starve in the Russian Zone of Germany this winter. The Russians have taken 78% of the railway switching and signal equipment, have removed much rolling stock, and have torn up one track of every double track railroad in the zone, he explained.

Repeated to Berlin.