The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3:59 p.m.]
907. The question of the proposed referendum on the SPD–KPD merger has now become more clarified.
At a meeting held on March 26, the SPD greater Berlin executive committee approved holding the desired referendum, presumably as a result of mounting criticism within the party ranks, and also possibly influenced by General Clay’s recent statement of American policy (see my 875, March 25th50). To date Das Volk has not announced this decision by Berlin executive committee, as a result of which there has as yet been no official announcement that referendum will be held.
Central Committee of party decided the following morning to announce that SPD constitution makes no provision for such a referendum, that party will in no way be bound by results of such a vote, and to urge all members who favor immediate merger to refrain from voting. Public declarations along these lines appeared in Das Volk for March 28th, emphasizing that merger decision will be taken only at the party convention called for April 19th, and urgently recommending that Berlin Party members do not participate in proposed referendum.
In deciding on this line of strategy to boycott the referendum, promerger group is probably hoping to profit by following considerations. [Page 715]No vote ever brings out all those eligible to vote and this case pro-merger group will claim that all who failed to vote favor the merger. Many party members residing in Russian sector of city will be afraid to vote. SPD leaders there expect that Russians will actually endeavor to list all those who vote, i.e., against the merger, or to obtain their names afterwards. Finally, Grotewohl and his comrades presumably desire to accommodate themselves to the rather obvious KPD and Russian opposition to holding any referendum, opposition based presumably primarily on their fear of the results. It is expected that referendum will be held on March 31st, though there is a possibility that pro-merger group, with aid of Central Committee, may have it postponed one week for technical reasons. We plan to observe referendum, particularly to judge whether it is fairly and democratically carried through. Anti-merger group hopes to obtain large turnout in spite of above-mentioned factors. There will obviously be no referendum outside Berlin in the Russian zone.
Following General Clay’s recent policy statement, referred to above, British newspaper Berliner announced on March 26th that British Military Government held the same view. We understand French position is similar though as yet there has been no public statement. Question of merger and referendum has as yet not been mentioned in Kommandatura.
- Not printed; the pertinent portion of this telegram reads as follows: “Commenting on the proposed SPD–KPD merger, General Clay stated in press conference held in Berlin on March 23 that merger will only be recognized if demanded by party members rather than a small group of party leaders. In this connection American Military Government insists on democratic referendum by the party members. This holds for both the American zone and the American sector of Berlin.” (862.00/3–2546.↩