862.00/6–2446: Airgram

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

secret

A–553. As indicated in my 1578 June 22, 8 p.m.,74 Soviets have decided to hold local elections throughout their zone in the fall. The following factors are of interest in this connection.

Close coordination between Socialist Unity party and Soviet Military Administration is indicated by timing of the announcement just one day after the party announced its decision that the time had come for such elections to be held. And as in the case with land reform and various other measures, the Communists will doubtless hereafter claim credit for their initiative in this matter.

[Page 728]

Soviet Zonal elections are being held just before the Berlin municipal vote scheduled for October, presumably with the hope of influencing the latter in favor of the Unity Party and at the expense of the independent Social Democrats, as well as the Christian Democrats and Liberal Democrats (CDU and LDP). Zonal elections are first being held in Land Saxony, which the Communists and Soviets have apparently for some time recognized as the most solidly Leftist province in northeastern Germany, and which has therefore been used as a vanguard testing ground for new measures, such as the June 30 nationalization referendum. Land Saxony election will be followed by the Provinces of Saxony and Thuringia, with the more conservative areas of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg coming last. Here again the first elections are doubtless expected to influence the following ones in a “progressive” direction.

Denying the franchise to “other fascist activists” as determined by the local antifascist-democratic organizations will give the Left an opportunity to further increase its chances of victory by eliminating conservative opponents through this label.

The provision which allows not only the political parties but the other “antifascist-democratic organizations” to put up candidates is also calculated to strengthen the forces of the Left. The Free German Youth, the Trade Unions, the Peasants Mutual Aid, Womens Committees and similar organizations, which are largely Communist-dominated, may thus be expected to enter the electoral arena. For example, peasants with their usual suspicion of the regular political parties may be inclined to vote for candidates nominated by their Mutual Aid organizations, without realizing that these may be mainly Communists. Jakob Kaiser, Chairman of the CDU, has informed us that his party will oppose this inclusion of non-party organizations, though he has no idea whether such opposition will be able to achieve any results.

Finally, the regulations specifically authorize the use of joint lists of candidates. CDU and LDP may generally be able to resist pressure to participate in such lists, but latter may then be used by combinations of the Unity Party and some of the other antifascist-democratic organizations with the aim of attracting votes which might otherwise go to either the CDU or LDP.

Outcome of the elections cannot as yet be estimated with any degree of certainty. It should however be borne in mind that there may be considerable propaganda, possibly of a mouth to mouth nature, to the effect that the future policy of the Soviet Military Administration as regards plant removals and other questions will be influenced by whether or not the elections are a victory for the forces of progressive [Page 729]democracy and socialism. Pre-election increases in food rations or some public indication of a change in Soviet attitude towards possible revision of present Oder-Neisse river frontier might also be used to swing vote in this direction. From various sources residing in the Soviet Zone, we are informed that local population is already fearful that their votes will not in fact be secret, and for this reason many will be inclined to vote for the Left with the same resigned fatalism as under the Nazi regime.

The above considerations suggest that despite the continued general fear of and aversion towards the Soviets and Communists in this part of Germany, the September elections may well result in the fulfillment of the premise laid down by Walter Ulbricht when he confidentially informed FDGB zonal meeting at beginning of April that the Unity Party must (repeat must) win a majority of the votes in any elections to be held.

Murphy
  1. Not printed.