740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1547: Telegram

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

secret

644. Following recent establishment of so-called Arbeitsgemeinschaft between Socialist Unity Party (SED) in Berlin and Soviet [Page 857]zone and Communist Party (KPD) in western zones (reference Morris’ memorandum 227, February 26 addressed Raymond Murphy 30), it now appears Communists have decided endeavor spread SED immediately to western zones as well presumably with objective of presenting CFM with fait accompli including nation-wide SED capable of playing major role in establishment any central agencies or provisional government.

Prominent SED leaders, including Grotewohl and Pieck, began speaking tour American zone March 8, concentrating first on Hesse. Their speeches have emphasized necessity to establish united workers party throughout Germany. KPD convention for Hesse held March 8–9 formally endorsed constitution and objectives of SED, recommended all KPD organizations within land to consider merger of SED and KPD, and decided to hold special delegates convention to take “necessary organizational steps”. News Deutschland for March 11 described this action as of “great historical significance, and the first step towards merger of the two Socialist parties in western Germany.” Within last few days KPD leaders Hesse have inquired at local military government how party can change its identity and name to SED. This procedure will presumably be followed in remainder American zone if it proves successful Hesse. All available information still indicates, however, that vast majority SPD members American zone oppose merger idea. This also holds for British and French zones, except for certain localities where life is particularly hard, such as Ruhr and Hamburg. British, however, have thus far consistently refused to permit speaking tours their zone by SED leaders, on ground of absence of reciprocity for SPD and other leaders from western zones to visit Soviet zone, and fact that SPD not authorized there.

There is some difference of opinion in OMGUS as to whether: we can in fact forbid KPD changing its name to SED in our zone; and if we can do so, whether it would be wise. One school of thought believes that an SED so formed would attract so few social democrats that its hollow pretensions would rapidly become clear, thus not benefitting but in practice damaging the whole merger cause. However, it seems likely that SED would attract some Social Democrats, that the resulting party would be at least larger than present KPD and gradually attract more supporters. More important, we would thus permit extensions of a SED, organized almost year ago in northeastern Germany in a most undemocratic manner, to our zone, without at same time extracting any quid pro quo for reestablishment of SPD in Soviet zone. We would thus throw away trump card with which we might endeavor redress present situation Soviet zone, under which one of [Page 858]main democratic parties has been forcibly suppressed and the two other non-Communist ones (CDU and LDP) given such treatment that they may be regarded as little more than stage effects to give illusion of political democracy.

Under existing military government regulations we could well require referendum of members of both SPD and KPD throughout American zone, on land basis, in order decide this issue democratically as it was decided in Berlin last spring. Regardless of foregoing possibility, I suggest we should indicate clearly that question of authorizing SED in our zone hinges on equal rights for other parties throughout Germany, i.e. including SPD in Soviet zone.

This may well be one of major decisions yet made regarding political parties, and we would appreciate receiving views of Department as soon as possible.

Sent to Department as 644; repeated Moscow for Ambassador Murphy 31 as 166; Paris as 105; London as 115.

Heath
  1. The memorandum under reference is not printed.
  2. Ambassador Murphy was in Moscow for the Fourth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, March 10–April 24, 1947.