740.00119 Control (Germany)/2–2646: Telegram

Mr. Donald Heath, Chargé in the Office of the United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy), to the Secretary of State


619. At the fortieth meeting of the Coordinating Committee on February 25, a Kommandatura request that arrests of three Berlin judges and one senior court officer in various Berlin sectors and their subsequent disappearance be investigated and the independence of the judiciary be insured brought British and Soviet members into bitter personal debate. While the original request concerned only the arrest of these judges and officials, there has been during several months a series of arrests and disappearances of Germans in the western sectors of Berlin. There is some evidence that these arrests have been effected either by Russian officers and officials, or by German police of the city magistrature acting—it is commonly believed—on Russian suggestion. Recently there have also been incidents of the removal by Russian officials of certain Germans travelling on the American train from Berlin to Frankfurt on American military permits and orders.

Soviet General Sokolovsky35 initially opposed the proposal to establish an investigating commission. While he admitted the arrest of one Judge Brass in the Soviet sector for alleged intentions to murder a Soviet commander at Weissensee, he emphatically disclaimed that the other arrests were effected by or known to any Soviet (at least sector) authorities. He reaffirmed the Soviet acceptance of Allied Control Proclamation No. 3,36 regarding the independence of the judiciary but denied it restrained an occupying power from arresting in its own zone or sector any judge who had committed crime against the occupational forces.

The American member37 replied calmly but firmly that the matter was of such importance that a mere Kommandatura investigation would not satisfy. While he would immediately arrest and surrender any German in his sector or zone upon the request of another occupying authority if accompanied by proper evidence of crime, he could not regard the action of other occupying powers in sending [Page 705]agents to make secret arrest in the American zone as other than “unfriendly” action. Further, he could not consider any refusal to accept an investigation of any such incident, as other than an unfriendly act. If quadripartite organization were unable to function in such occurrences, further foregathering of his colleagues and himself would seem to be superfluous.

Following General Clay’s presentation, General Sokolovsky withdrew his objection to quadripartite investigation of the incident but insisted that the investigation should include not merely the case of the court officials but must cover all similar cases, including, the [he] alleged, the arrest of Berlin Mayor Bachmann38 and two Soviet agents by the British some months ago, without notice to either the Kommandatura or the Soviet commander, and the interrogation of the agents without prior notification to the Soviets. He said that the American Berlin sector command had arrested Police Chief Vogt of Teltow, which is not even in the Berlin area, and there had also occurred an American arrest of Deputy Chief Heinrich Gustav of the Berlin Food Administration known to work and live in the Soviet sector. He insisted that the “most revolting” Bachmann case be investigated before the others.

With regard to General Sokolovsky’s allegations of American arrests of residents of Soviet zone, the American member said there would be immediate investigation and if the facts were as stated sincere apologies would be promptly forthcoming. He was perfectly willing that the alleged American arrests should be first investigated. He made it clear that he was not arguing that the two judges and court official were not liable to arrest, indeed, initial investigation on his part showed two of them to have been active Nazis and the third was probably in a mandatory arrest category of Nazis. He was interested only in the important principle of non-arrest by agents of one occupying power in the zones or territory of another.

British General Robertson39 caustically inquired why the Soviets had failed to bring up the Bachmann case earlier. He accused the Soviet member of introducing this complaint at this late date merely to prevent a successful investigation of the judges’ case. The Soviet General Sokolovsky replied bitterly that it was clear to him from General Robertson’s remarks that the purpose of the investigation was an attack on the Soviets.

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General Robertson finally accepted a proposal that the commission should simultaneously investigate the Bachmann and the judges’ cases, but described the Soviet assent thereto as only a pretext, expressed doubt as to the desire of his Soviet colleague that any serious inquiry be made and proposed that unless serious inquiry were made the proposal be referred to the Control Council.

While General Sokolovsky expressed full agreement with the American member’s statements, the conciliatory efforts of General Clay and the French chairman40 were lost in a discussion between the British and the Soviet representatives as to the terms of reference and personnel of the investigation commission, the Soviet member holding that the whole affair should be investigated by Public Safety Committee of the IA&C Directorate. The British member, however, insisted on formulation of terms of reference by the legal directorate and prosecution of the investigation by high ranking officers of the national elements of the Control Council. General Sokolovsky denied that “lawyers and generals” had any concern in the matter, and repeated that it should be handled only by the IA&C Directorate, to which the British member rejoined that the case would be lost in that busy organization.

By this time, remarks and manner of British member had so affected Soviet member that, whatever his original true intentions, he was obdurate to all compromise suggestion, and French chairman had to announce that Coordinating Committee was unable resolve problems posed by Kommandatura and must refer its paper to Control Council.

  1. Army Gen. Vassily Danilovich Sokolovsky, Deputy Governor, Soviet Military Administration in Germany; Soviet member, Coordinating Committee, Allied Control Council for Germany.
  2. For text of this Proclamation dealing with Fundamental Principles of Judicial Reform, October 20, 1945, see Official Gazette of the Control Council for Germany, No. 1 (October 29, 1945), p. 6.
  3. Lt. Gen. Lucius D. Clay, Deputy Military Governor, U.S. Zone of Occupation in Germany; also Director, Office of Military Government of the United States for Germany (OMGUS).
  4. For details, see The Times (London), October 23, 1945, p. 3, col. 5; October 25, p. 3, col. 4; October 26, p. 3, col. 5; October 29, p. 3, col. 4; October 30, p. 3, col. 4; October 31, p. 2, col. 2.
  5. Lt. Gen. Sir Brian H. Robertson, Deputy Military Governor, British Zone of Occupation in Germany.
  6. Lt. Gen. Louis Koeltz, Deputy Military Governor, French Zone of Occupation in Germany.