862.5043/11–445: Telegram

Mr. Donald R. Heath, Counselor of Mission, Office of the United States Political Adviser for Germany, to the Secretary of State

937. In a conference with Generals Echols, Milburn, and Gavin,82 it was agreed that, when the question of the proposed Berlin Trade Union Conference comes before the Coordinating Committee, the [Page 1068] Americans will ask that it be referred without discussion to the Manpower and Political directorates acting jointly. Refer to my 708, October 7; 825, October 21; 856, October 26;83 and 915, November 2.84 The only unsettled issue is whether or not to recognize delegates elections which have already been held, provided they took place in accordance with the agreed principles reported in my 825, October 21.

Apparently between September 10 and September 23, elections occurred in every district of Berlin except Charlottenburg. At General Gavin’s order, those elections in the American sector are now being investigated. Since the Western forces agreed to accept previous Russian rules when they entered Berlin and never proclaimed that trade unions needed their permission to meet and organize, the FDGB was not acting illegally in holding elections and indeed the Russian request to the Kommandatura to allow the convention might therefore be regarded as gratuitous. However, some of the elections were not democratic. Jacob Kaiser states that the FDGB Provisional Committee, including the Communists, is willing to declare all previous elections null and void. Presumably the Communists had previously consulted Russian MG,85 before taking this position.

Several alternative American positions present themselves, (a) Hold out for declaring all previous elections null and void and starting over again; (b) Agree to General Gavin’s solution of letting each commander satisfy himself that the elections in his sector will have been democratic; (c) Begin with (a) and, if the Russians are adamant, retreat to (b); (d) If prior investigation discloses that most elections were democratic, accept the Russian proposal. This would probably not be agreed to by the British and French.

It seems important to reach quadripartite agreement soon and to permit the convention, lest the Western Powers appear to oppose democratic trade unions as the Russians have already tried to make it appear. The Department’s reaction at the earliest possible moment to the alternative solutions would be appreciated. The question may come up at the November 6 Coordinating Committee meeting and may be discussed there.

  1. Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Echols, Assistant Deputy Military Governor; Brig. Gen. Bryan L. Milburn, Chief of Staff, Office of Military Government for Germany (U.S.); and Maj. Gen. James M. Gavin, Commanding General, U.S. Sector, Berlin District.
  2. Telegram 856 not printed, but see footnote 79, p. 1065.
  3. Not printed; this telegram reported that in discussions of the Berlin trade union question before the Kommandatura on November 1, lack of agreement was so great that the principle of a single communiqué had to be abandoned. (862.5043/11–245)
  4. Military Government.