862.5043/3–2546: Telegram

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


874. See my 771, March 13. At its 28th meeting March 21 Political Directorate considered Kommandatura questions referred to it by Coordinating Committee. Reading long paper regarding trades unions, Soviet member sharply criticized French chairiman of Kommandatura for unilateral action which, allegedly, seriously embarrassed his colleagues and led Soviets doubt Kommandatura correctly understood its functions. He stated that Allied Control Authority laws and regulations alone determine policy in Germany, and that Kommandatura is merely executive organ and then only in matters pertaining to Berlin alone; that main source of present trouble was failure of same Kommandatura members to act in accordance with basic principle of quadripartite unanimity on all important matters; that sector commander can take unilateral action to end serious threat to security or safety of allies in Berlin, but not if it concerns all Allies as whole, other sectors and adjacent Soviet zone; that Berlin is not only seat of Allied Control organs, but also is chief city in Soviet zone (thus Berlin is not state within a state); that inter-Allied work on Kommandatura reveals many particularist tendencies inconsonant with Allied plan; and that there was nothing inherently vicious in election by democratic means of Berlin Trade Union officials to Soviet [Page 713]zonal posts. Soviet paper generally attempted justify conference and Berlin Trade Union officials’ action, and demonstrate advantage to other three quadripartite powers through great influence thus given Berlin in Soviet zone. (Background note: Soviets might consider vindication Berlin Trade Union officials essential to maintenance Soviet prestige because reportedly some Soviet officials encouraged Berlin officials ignore order of French Kommandatura chairman.) Soviet member concluded statement by suggesting following reply to Kommandatura:

“On basis Potsdam protocol48 and because Berlin Trade Union actions or decisions did not contradict existing rules or threaten occupational forces, Kommandatura action unnecessary. Kommandatura concern about merger is baseless; Soviet zonal unions are responsible to Soviet zonal commander, likewise Berlin unions to Kommandatura. Hence merger under present conditions is not so much inadmissable as impossible. Members of Berlin trade unions must obey orders from Kommandatura and where appropriate from individual sector commanders. Election of officials to zonal committees actually benefits Kommandatura which can thus give instructions influencing Soviet zone. This is not distasteful to Soviets because they trust their Allies. They ask only that similar trust be placed in them.”

Soviet member at first declined to make Russian text of statement available, indicating he desired minutes of meeting merely record that he had made statement. Later he had short résumé incorporated in minutes. The résumé, retaining little of sharp disputatious character of the original statement, is more conciliatory both in tone and Russian phraseology. It omits all reference to Berlin as chief city in Soviet zone, unequivocally admits Kommadatura authority over Berlin trade unions, and pleads that there was not only no amalgamation, but not even attempt at one.

United States member emphasized importance of preserving inviolate Kommandatura authority, also that any amalgamation of Berlin trade unions with those of a zone must have prior approval of Kommandatura.

British member said British cannot agree to thesis of Berlin being central city of Soviet zone; on contrary Berlin is international city occupied by quadripartite powers. British reject close association, amounting to domination of Berlin unions by those in Soviet zone, through exchange of members; and they maintain that until conditions warrant it, no national zone may have greater influence than another over Berlin. Control Council authorities direct Kommandatura, which in turn exercises authority over Berlin trade unions.

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Further discussion of matter postponed until March 28.49

  1. August 1, 1945; for text, see Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. ii, p. 1478.
  2. Telegram 924, March 30, from Berlin, stated that at the 29th meeting of the Political Directorate, March 28, the U.S., French, and British delegates agreed to a British draft reply to the Kommandatura questions. The Soviet delegate disagreed, and his dissenting views were to be transmitted to the Coordinating Committee separately. Telegram 924 quoted the British draft as follows:

    “Political Directorate considers that questions involving association of Germans and German organizations in four zones with each other and with Germans in Berlin are in general, matters for Allied Control Authority, and should be decided by each zonal commander and in Berlin by Kommandatura.

    Answer to both questions is therefore that no association between trade unions in Soviet zone and Berlin is permissible without consent of Soviet Zonal Commander and Kommandatura. Simultaneous membership by a German of Soviet zonal trade union and one in Berlin constitutes such an association.” (862.5043/3–3046)