862.00/9–1746: Telegram

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

secret

2174. Section I. Remytels 2080, September 5, and 2124, September 11.84 Soviet zone elections of September 1 and 8 appear from results and available eye witness accounts to have been free and fair so far as actual polling was concerned. So far as is known, ballots were secret, intimidation at polling places was absent and count was honest. Single exception to date is statement to us by Jacob Kaiser, CDU head, that Bauernhilfe and Frauenausschuss received many more votes in Land Saxony than published results show, and major part apparently were added to Socialist Unity (Communist) total.

Pre-election treatment of parties and ability to present candidates according to information from German sources indicate that elections were anything but free and fair. Liberal Democrats and, especially Christian Democrats, were hampered often to point of being hamstrung by inequitable allocations of paper and gasoline, refusals of or limitations on meetings by bribery, removal, intimidations and arrest of leaders, by refusal to authorize party groups and by refusal to allow these parties to present candidates in overwhelming majority of rural communities. Actualities of such tactics nullify fair polling procedure and indelibly stamp these elections as unfair and not free by all democratic standards.

The fair conditions under which actual balloting proceeded can be credited to interest and pressure of western opinion. Russians were well aware of that interest as well as American official and press reaction in previous elections in Eastern Europe. They were well aware of specific interest of American press in Soviet zone elections through articles appearing with increasing frequency for several months. There is evidence that they were aware of the quiet but persistent [Page 734]interest of this mission and other military government personnel in the elections. The result was an apparent Soviet policy of free balloting at any cost short of defeat of Socialist Unity Party.

Results of this strategic defeat are uncertain, pressure and effective intimidation may be unleashed in support of SED to retrieve present policy. Or election results, plus Secretary’s speech,85 may convince Soviets present tack is unrealistic and too costly and induce some new policy of collaboration with bourgeois parties. Prospect of Communist domination of unified Germany is weakened. Setback lends some credibility to reports that Walter Ulbricht may be replaced as top German Communist. Paul Merker’s name crops up as possible new chief. Merker is understood to be here now but has not yet come to public notice. End of section I.86

Repeated to Paris for Matthews as 286; repeated to Moscow as 274; Dept please relay to Moscow.

Murphy
  1. Neither printed. These telegrams reported on results of the voting in local elections on September 1 and 8 in Land Saxony, Land Province Saxony-Anhalt, and Land Thuringia in the Soviet zone. The Socialist Unity Party received 54 percent, 50.5 percent, and 59 percent of the votes in the respective areas, but great surprise was expressed at the strength of the opposition, particularly in view of Soviet favoritism shown toward the SED. (862.00/9–546, and 9–1146.
  2. Reference is to Secretary Byrnes’ restatement of United States policy on Germany, and address delivered at Stuttgart, Germany, September 6. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, September 15, 1946, p. 496.
  3. Telegram 2175, September 17 (not printed), was designated Section II. It elaborated somewhat upon the report contained in telegram 2174, stating that although balloting in the Soviet zone was fair, due to western interest and publicity, campaigning was not regulated in impartial fashion by the Soviet authorities. (862.00/9–1746)

    On September 28, Mr. Murphy sent a letter to James W. Riddleberger transmitting the substance of an intelligence report received by Mr. Murphy from General Olay. The letter stated that Soviet authorities were disappointed and angry over the results of the recent voting and that at a subsequent meeting between political leaders and Soviet zone officials, it was made clear that all parties would henceforth be subject to the strictest control (740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–2846).