862.00/3–2046: Airgram

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


Sir: The main underlying factors affecting Social Democrats (SPD) in determining their attitude towards proposed merger with the Communist (KPD) are as follows:

As before, there is a strong natural desire for unity of the working class forces, particularly now that 13 years of common hardship and struggle have elapsed and helped dim the bitter memories of pre-Hitler SPDKPD rivalries and mutual recrimination. At the same time, most Social Democrats cannot entirely forget their experiences prior to 1933 and in many, particularly those in Berlin and Russian occupation zone, distrust of the Communists has increased as a result of developments and experiences during past ten months. Harsh and apparently callous Russian occupation policies and behavior during the first stage of the occupation have also contributed enormously to [Page 711]this state of distrust and hatred of everything from the East. Behavior of Communists to date and their obvious close cooperation with Russian authorities in this part of Germany have not helped prove to SPD members that KPD is either truly democratic or an independent German political party.

Despite this, many of those who favor or are willing to agree to merger are willing to forget the jealousies of the past and hope that in a new united Socialist party the Social Democrats can outweigh the Communists, especially if merger is effected throughout Germany and in view of present popular sentiment against Communists and Russians, particularly in this part of Germany.

Generally speaking, those who want an immediate merger seem inclined to favor the Socialist content of Social Democracy, while those who oppose it feel that maintenance of Democracy is of primary importance. In fact, recent behavior of Grotewohl, Fechner and other pro-merger leaders suggests they have pretty well discarded democratic methods and objectives in their strong desire to achieve a Socialist State, in northeastern Germany to begin with and throughout the country later. They are now openly preaching doctrine of class struggle, while Schumacher and his colleagues still emphasize democracy and need for all Germans to work together for the future. At the same time, it should be observed that Social Democrats in general will continue to be apprehensive of possibility of western occupation powers withdrawing from Germany and reactionary capitalist forces regaining power, at least in western and southern Germany.

One interesting feature of situation in Berlin is that leadership of the anti-merger group is mainly in the hands of comparatively young men, such as Germer, contrasting with Communist charges that the opposition is led by old men who still live in pre-1933 world.

The above analysis does not include the other factors resulting from the present situation in Berlin and the Russian zone: direct pressure and threats by the Russians in their zone; their complete domination of the press and radio there; the fact that the Russians control the majority of press and radio facilities in Berlin, where a considerable degree of pressure can also be effected through Communist domination of key positions in the municipal administration, trade unions, et cetera; and certain promises which the Russians have evidently made to SPD leaders for the reduction of their occupation forces, establishment of a Workers’ Government in northeastern Germany, and turning over to the German workers over 3,000 war production plants allegedly earmarked for removal to the USSR—providing the merger goes through. Russians have also allegedly intimated that Central German Ministries can only be established after such a merger. [Page 712]In a recent speech, Grotewohl stressed necessity for Germany to establish friendly relations with the USSR, which alone stands firm for the retention of the Ruhr by Germany and might also in the future be willing to consider rectification of new and thoroughly unpopular eastern frontier of the Oder-Neisse rivers. In this connection, he emphasized that final determination of eastern German frontier would be up to USSR rather than the Western Powers. Thus the pro-merger group in the SPD has pretty definitely taken on an “eastern orientation”.

Finally, it should be recognized that present SPD opposition to merger has been tremendously fanned by the undemocratic methods which are being used in this part of Germany to achieve the merger. Many SPD members have reacted strongly, pointing out that they didn’t go through the last years of Nazi domination to submit again to such methods.