862.00/4–2547: Telegram

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

997. Soviet-overt Taegliche Rundschau, April 23, published text General Kotikov’s statement43 in Kommandatura April 22 on resignation Ostrowski (Remytel 974, April 2344).

Colonel Howley in press conference afternoon April 23 answered this statement as follows:

It is not American policy to discuss differences among the Allies before the German press but we had no choice when one ally brings its own standpoint before the public. It offended our sense of political fairness when we must repeatedly see how the Soviet representative in Allied Kommandatura attacked one of the political parties when this party could not defend itself. A part of the Soviet assertions also were not in accord with the facts. Functioning of the Democratic elected city government had up to now repeatedly been hindered by Soviet representatives in Kommandatura. (Howley read extracts from minutes of Kommandatura meetings to prove this point.) The Americans were of the opinion that city assembly may decide completely independently as to the qualifications of lord mayor and may freely elect successor to Ostrowski without necessity Allied approval. It was important that Berlin population know which power from first day of office of new magistrat had attempted oppose this city government. It was that power which tolerated no criticism of former city government which was the Communistic and SEDistic appointee of Red Army. Under the given circumstances the new city government had worked well according to American opinion, since it has been in office there has been no scandal and no disappearance of food has occurred as under the previous magistrat. (At this point, Howley read figures of food losses in 1945–46 and in name of American Military Government [Page 866] Colonel denied interference in German political matters.) The assertions printed in Taegliche Rundschau were in American opinion not only a violation of Control Council Directive No. 4045 but also violation of gentlemen’s agreement regarding secrecy of proceedings in Kommandatura. A year ago we said that it was of no concern to us whether SPD or some other party controlled government. We shall support any elected government. We had never attempted to kill any of the political parties in this city. Howley added opinion American MG that on basis provisional Berlin Constitution city assembly elected its own government which automatically takes office. Soviet MG had always been of opinion that every official must be approved by Kommandatura. Soviets also insisted that all measures of magistrat must be approved by Kommandatura. American view was that this would give present magistrat fewer rights than its predecessor which needed approval only in fundamental matters. In answer to question Howley declared he could not believe that a power would not approve Ostrowski’s resignation, however, if this occurred then Ostrowski would remain in office since unanimous approval for his resignation was necessary.

British issued similar declaration April 23 concluding that since city assembly with overwhelming majority expressed non-competence against Ostrowski and he therefore resigned, allied Kommandatura has no choice but to recognize resignation.

April 25 Taegliche Rundschau and Soviet licensed press carried reply to Howley by Colonel Jelisarov which differed only slightly from Kotikov’s original statement by which he attacked Ulrich Biel (official of American Berlin Military Government) for alleged support SPD intrigues.

  1. For the text of Gen. Kotikov’s statement, see Berlin (West) Landesarchiv, Berlin: Quellen und Dokumente 1945–1951, 2 Halbbände (Berlin, Heinz Spitzing Verlag, 1964), No. 668, p. 1181.
  2. Supra.
  3. Control Council Directive No. 40: Policy to be Followed by German Politicians and the German Press, February 3, 1947; for text, see Germany 1947–1949, p. 598.