862.5043/10–2145: Telegram

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

825. Reference mytel 708, October 7, 11 a.m. The October 18 meeting of the Kommandatura discussed a paper prepared by its Labor Committee on the calling of a city-wide delegates convention of the Free German Trade Union League. The Labor Committee had on October 16 agreed on the following points:

No approval of election of delegates until receipt of a reply from the Oberbürgermeister to the Kommandatura letter of October 9.
Elections to be conducted according to the following general principles.
Right of vote for all members.
Vote by secret ballot.
Right of unrestricted nomination of candidates.
One delegate per 100 members.
The elected directing committee will serve for not more than a year.
Election rules must be approved in advance by the Kommandatura.
All details on the election procedure will be given to the press and to radio Berlin in advance.
The Kommandatura will accept the League’s assurance that these measures will be applied, but Military Government will hear complaints and take appropriate action.
Within 6 months the elected committee will present to the Kommandatura a constitution and regulations governing all official positions.

The Labor Committee has failed to reach agreement on two points:

That at least 5 days should elapse between the nomination and the election of delegates. The Russian representatives did not want to specify a time period.
That the Kommandatura approve the elections of delegates which have already occurred, provided they took place in accordance with approved principles. This was proposed by the Russians and refused by all others. Nobody except the Russians had previously known that such elections had taken place. Just prior to the Kommandatura meeting a reply by the Oberbürgermeister to the October 9 letter was received, which all except the Russians considered unsatisfactory. It was tentatively agreed to deal directly with the Trade Union League in the future. The Kommandatura informally accepted the points agreed to by its Labor Committee, and after considerable discussion fixed on a waiting period of seven days between the nomination and the election of delegates. With regard to point [Page 1065] 3(b) the British, American and French generals declined to accept elections held without Kommandatura approval and by rules which were not submitted in advance. General Smirnoff admitted that in some cases new elections should be held, but asked that he be given time to think it over. The Kommandatura agreed to return the paper to the Labor Committee which was directed to work out detailed election procedure. The matter was placed on the agenda for the next Kommandatura meeting October 25.79

It appears likely that a satisfactory agreement will be reached in due time and that the convention will be held. The Russians, who had wanted to rush through the formalities in order to introduce German delegates into the World Trade Union Congress in Paris, may now be willing to repudiate the previous elections and concur with some detailed requirements for new elections, even though in really free voting the Communists would presumably not obtain a majority. The Russians believe that the American manpower officials genuinely favor the holding of the convention, but they appear to be unsure about the British and French intentions. The British are going to insist on extremely detailed and specific guarantees of democratic procedure, and the French go along with this view. Colonel Banford, the Chief British Labor Officer for Berlin, has not yet allowed any factory elections, he states, because he has not had time to supervise them. The American manpower officials are anxious not to be put in the position of opposing democratic trade unions, but are equally concerned to see that the unions are democratic. They will continue to try to bring the British and Russians together.

  1. Telegram 856, October 26, from Berlin, reported on the discussions in the Kommandatura, October 26. It was finally agreed that each commander would draw up a statement of his position and that all four papers would be submitted to the Control Council. Pending Control Council action, the Kommandatura would make no further effort to reconcile the different views. (862.5043/10–2645)