740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–1346: Telegram

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


1016. Letter from newly organized Berlin Social Democratic Committee came up for discussion at April 12 Kommandatura meeting [Page 720](reference my 981, April 9, 9 p.m.62 As presiding commandant, General Barker expressed sympathetic attitude towards new committee emphasizing party sentiment as expressed March 31 referendum and Central Committee’s April 3 declaration (reference my 966, April 6, 9 a.m.) which declaration suggests that Central Committee no longer represents party sentiment and is determined to disregard it. Hence anti-merger group’s action in organizing April 7 convention should be regarded as reasonable step by democratically-minded party members.

French representative entirely supported American view, as did British who emphasized that Central Committee’s April 3 declaration showed that unless anti-merger forces did something, SPD would clearly disappear as Berlin party and that British believe that April 7 convention was properly held, that new committee fairly represents Berlin membership, that British are not inclined to recognize any other committee and agree with American view that Berlin organization should be independent of present Central Committee.

Soviet representative stated that SPD situation was far from clear and asked that further discussion of the matter be dropped. General Barker replied that matter was of such great importance for Berlin political situation that he could not agree. And was again supported by French and British. Barker then suggested Kommandatura should recognize fact that SPD was split in Berlin on the merger issue, and agreed to permitting Social Democrats who wish to preserve their party to do so throughout Berlin, and likewise those who desire to merge with SPD and form proposed SEPD throughout city to have that opportunity. While American policy is entirely neutral towards individual parties and factions within such parties it is opposed to permitting group of party leaders whose authority does not apparently rest on popular support to suppress views of anti-merger SPD group when the size of the latter is obviously so large. Barker therefore recommended that Kommandatura inform both pro- and anti-merger groups of its intention to permit both SPD and SEPD throughout Berlin providing both are organized and function in accordance with democratic principles. Both newly organized SPD and proposed SEPD should submit to Kommandatura for approval their programs, names of leaders, et cetera.

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Soviet representatives refused to discuss the question at this meeting of Kommandatura, pleading ignorance of necessary details of this complicated question and again requesting that SPD letter be struck from agenda. When representatives of other three Great Powers indicated their unwillingness to do so, Barker emphasizing that this apparently represents the first real attempt since the war by a Berlin political group to express itself democratically, Soviets finally agreed to study matter with a view to discussing it as soon as possible and if possible at next Kommandatura meeting (scheduled in 2 weeks). Soviet flatly refused British suggestion, supported by French and Americans, that SPD letter be acknowledged by simple statement that inquiry was being considered by Kommandatura.

Despite clear division within Kommandatura between Soviets and the other three Powers concerned, discussion took place in a friendly atmosphere. Soviet plea of ignorance over ramifications of the present SPD situation can, however, only be interpreted as a tactical move to postpone actual discussion of the problem.

  1. Not printed; this telegram reported on the special SPD Convention, April 7, referred to in telegram 966, April 6, p. 716. At this meeting, the delegates expelled several members of the SPD Central Committee who had favored merger with the KPD and elected a new leadership, thus bringing into existence two rival SPD organizations in Berlin. The letter under reference was sent by the new Berlin SPD leadership to the Kommandatura, April 8, to introduce itself, explain the situation, and ask for quadripartite support. (862.00/4–946)

    Following special SPD and KPD Conventions in the five provinces in the Soviet zone on April 7, announcement was made of the establishment of the new Socialist Unity Party (SED).