USPOLAD Germany Files: 800C Other Polit. Parties

The Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson)

top secret

Dear Jack : In considering our basic objectives in Germany against the background of the current world situation, the question arises whether we should revoke the authorization of the Communist Parties (KPD) to operate in the several Laender in the American Zone.

You will recall that paragraph 5 of the new State-War-Navy directive to OMGUS provides for: “Encouraging bona fide democratic efforts and prohibiting those activities which would jeopardize genuinely democratic developments”. Again, paragraph 8a states: “You will adhere to the policy of authorizing and encouraging all political parties whose programs, activities and structure demonstrate their allegiance to democratic principles”.69

By now it seems clear that the German Communist Parties in the several Laender (KPD) and the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in the [Page 883]Soviet Zone are not instruments of democratic development and, like other national Communist parties, are in fact dedicated to the destruction of democracy. As far as written statutes are concerned, about all one can lay a finger on is the last paragraph of the section of the official “Principles and Aims of the SED” entitled “The Fight for Socialism”:

“The present special situation in Germany which arose due to the collaboration of the reactionary despotism of the former State and the erection of a democratic state based on new economic principles, makes it possible to prevent the reactionary forces from stopping by means of despotism and civil war the final liberation of the working classes. The SED aims at following the democratic way leading to Socialism; however, it is prepared to use revolutionary means if the capitalist class forsakes the ground of democracy.”

Needless to say, Communist leaders have been careful to avoid a detailed discussion of just what this means. However, a close study of their tactics and propaganda, and particularly the so-called “immediate aims” of the SED, makes clear that the phrase “if the capitalist class forsakes the ground of democracy” can only mean successful opposition by the non-Communist elements to the establishment of an “anti-Fascist parliamentary democratic republic”, which in effect amounts to the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. Since such a state has already been largely realized in the Soviet Zone, this threat to resort to civil war can refer only to the western occupation zones. It should also be observed that the Communist party in the American Zone has subscribed to this official program of the SED. Thus we find the same threat to overthrow existing governmental forms which authorities in the U.S. have considered as justification for debarring Communists from holding certain offices and enjoying other privileges there.

The question therefore arises as to whether we are justified in continuing to authorize the KPD in the U.S. Zone as a democratic political party. If it is not such a party, should we not forbid it?

I feel that General Clay’s decision not to authorize the SED in our zone was absolutely correct, not only from a moral point of view but also from a tactical one. If we were now to prohibit the KPD as well, the Soviets might reply by suppressing the two remaining non-Communist parties existing in their zone. However, the latter (CDU and LDP) have very little real freedom at the present time; in fact, the Soviets probably find them useful only as stage scenery to give an impression of real political democracy. Hence, they might not prohibit them at all, and even if they did, this would make little practical difference to the control of that zone already exercised by the SED.

Even if, morally, we ought perhaps to forbid the KPD in our zone in view of its undemocratic nature and objectives, I doubt if this would be wise policy. It would tend to make martyrs of the Communists. [Page 884]This might give a political movement, which at present is comparatively weak, considerably more support, particularly in a country where occupation powers, including our own, have become more and more unpopular in the last year or so. I also believe our Intelligence people would find it considerably more difficult to check on Communist activities and developments were the party prohibited.

One other aspect of this whole problem should also be mentioned. We might forbid the KPD in our zone and use this as a bargaining card to induce the Soviets to again license the SPD in their zone and permit it and the LDP and CDU to operate without persecution and on a basis of equal opportunity with the SED, i.e., in much the same way as a quadripartite bargain was struck in the spring of 1946 for the authorization of the SPD and SED in all four sectors of Berlin. Whether the Soviets would agree to such a bargain and whether it would in fact be worth while for the SPD to seek re-authorization in the Soviet Zone under present conditions—i.e., in the absence of quadripartite supervision of parties throughout Germany to ensure democratic practices—are of course important factors in evaluating the wisdom of such a step, and factors difficult to appraise.

I realize this is a difficult and complicated question. I should, however, be pleased to receive your views some time on it, after you have had an opportunity to discuss it with some of our friends and colleagues in the Department.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Murphy
  1. The quotations are from the Directive to Commander in Chief of United States Forces of Occupation Regarding the Military Government of Germany, J.C.S. 1779, July 11, 1947; for text, see Germany 1947–1949, pp. 34–41.