862.5043/2–547: Telegram

The Acting Political Adviser for Germany (Muccio) to the Secretary of State


300. Controversy over Berlin FDGB elections like 1946 struggle for Berlin municipal elections has serious implications some of which extend far beyond Berlin. Remytels 279, February 118 and 297 February 5.19 Most direct issue is whether Soviets can control through trade unions city they lost in political elections. It is questionable even if FDGB elections were carried on under procedure desired by Western Allies whether SED leadership would be thrown out and democratic unions created. Labor officer this mission believes that if workers knew party affiliations of candidates and had fair chance to vote they would eliminate SED control. On other hand 51,000 SPD members in Berlin (20,000 in FDGB) who would have to do bulk of fighting only slightly exceed number of shops in which elections would be held (50,000). SED has 120,000 members in Berlin, about 60,000 of whom are in FDGB. Entire trade union machine is SED [Page 851] controlled. Headquarters and all important property including money and FDGB newspaper are in Soviet [control ?]. Union specialists like Paul Merker and Hans Jendretzky are more than match for harrassed and overworked SPD and CDU opposition leaders. Bribes to membership like Sokolovski and Kotikov distribution of cloth and shoes are potent arguments to cold and hungry Berliners which Western Allies cannot match. However, fact that Kotikov came to January 31 Kommandatura meeting prepared for disagreement indicates Soviets may be afraid of any election now.

Beyond Berlin [is the?] issue of control over all German unions and their possible incorporation into World Trade Union Federation. Fourth Inter-zonal Conference of Trade Unionists scheduled to open Berlin February 10. Reference my airgram A–1020, December 23, 1946.20 WFTU Delegation now touring Germany will attend, as will Henry Rutz of AFL. Soviets obviously wanted clearcut victory in Berlin before conference. Once again unity of German unions and eastern versus western concept of union organization will be on agenda and victory may go to biggest battalions. Soviet zone unions now claim about 3,500,000 members, Berlin FDGB 491,000. British zone over 1,750,000, American zone over 1,000,000, French zone about 250,000. However, it seems Soviet zone unions losing membership. Reliable report says Land Saxony has dropped from 1,200,000 to 975,000. Membership still rising in west, though leveling off American zone.

British and American zone trade union leaders opposed to Communist-controlled national union, but feel insecure and, cannot fight national unity for long. Thus Berlin is apt to prove key point.

In view of above situation attitudes of occupying powers are crucial since German trade unionists extraordinarily sensitive to will of victors. US is only power which can take strong line opposing Soviet aims. High official British political division who is Labor Party stalwart says TUC would not countenance suppressing or splitting Berlin unions or any move opposing FDGB elections. Gautier, French Labor officer Berlin and close friend Jouhaux, has successfully urged strong anti-Soviet line here but expects momentarily to be overruled by Communist CGT leadership and by his Government. French MG in Baden Baden openly supporting WFTU aims and early formation national unions. US Manpower officers frankly admit they have not offered leadership, reason being mainly lack of aggressive and trained Manpower personnel detailed to Berlin MG and also lack of newsprint and other means of helping Democratic opposition. OMGUS now assigning two good Labor Relations men to job.

[Page 852]

For time being only course is to organize and strengthen SPD and file opposition against SED leadership. SPD however, refuses to split unions on sector basis since this would justify SED attacks on “splitters of working class and lackeys of imperialist forces.”

Christian Democratic Union will be negligible force in struggle.

Repeated to Paris for Eldridge and Kennan as 44, to London for Murphy and Berger as 67, to Moscow as 54.

  1. Supra.
  2. Not printed; it reported that as the Berlin FDGB directing committee expired on February 3, 1947, both Germans and the western allies had adopted an attitude of watchful waiting (740.00119 Control (Germany)/2–547).
  3. Not printed.