862.5043/4–1447: Telegram

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


879. Communists have made further progress in their attempt achieve control entire German Trade Union movement and seem still to be gaining strength among workers. Following are latest milestones in Communist march:

After winning 83 percent of delegates to Berlin FDGB city convention through allegedly non-political shop elections and borough conventions, SED easily elected new directing committee in March 29–30 convention (reference my telegram 732, March 2640). SPD proposition announced rejection Walter Ulbricht’s offer of one-third representation and contented itself with five members representing individual unions. Nevertheless, SED elected six more nominal SPD members, not members of independent democratic opposition. Composition new directing committee: 17 KPD, 13 non-Communist SED, 11 SPD, 4 CDU, 0 non-party. April 8 new directing committee elected executive of 7 SED, 1 CDU (Minna Amann), 1 SPD (Nicolaus Bernhardt who follows SED line and refused membership in opposition); Roman Chwalek (KPDSED) remains first chairman, Hermann Schlimme (SED) second chairman, Bernhard third chairman. Thus Communists control 500,000 Berlin members in addition to 3,500,000 Soviet zone members. Only 3,000,000 in three western zones.
In last two months with active help Louis Saillant and at least no visible interference by French MG, Communists have gained almost all leading positions in French zone trade unions (300,000 members). Saillant appointed Communist to head Provisional Zonal Committee. By order Governor General, Henry Rutz, AF of L representative in Germany, now forbidden visit French zone.
Communists have long controlled most work councils of Ruhr miners, now hold 40 percent leading positions British zone miners union (250,000 members) including First Vice Presidency (Wilhelm Agartz). While doubt exists that they precipitated recent miners strikes, they certainly took leadership of them while Social Democratic leaders opposed strikes and counseled moderation.
Metal workers unions throughout Germany (1,000,000 members) now for all practical purposes under Communist control though some respected old SPD leaders still tolerated in top positions (Brunner, President Wuerttemberg-Baden metal workers; Max Bock, President Hessians’ Union.)
Trade Union Federations Nuremberg, Mannheim, Wiesbaden and other US zone cities effectively under Communist leadership.
At first official convention Bavarian Trade Union Federation March 27–29, Wilhelm Schmidt (KPD, former Bavarian de-Nazification Minister), who was not delegate and was forcibly excluded from hall, received 104 of 450 votes for Presidency and was elected to nine-man land executive with 170 votes.

Above information collected by labor officer this Mission from newspapers, OMGUS Manpower Division, Henry Rutz, SPD leaders, etc. Analysis of causes follows.

Sent Department as 879, repeated Moscow for American Delegation CFM as 258, to London as 141, to Paris as 151.

  1. Not printed.