740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–3049: Telegram
The Acting United States Political Adviser for Germany (Riddleberger) to the Acting Secretary of State
858. See mytel 770, May 20 repeated Paris for Jessup 284, London 276, Moscow 88.1 Third “German People’s Congress (Volkskongress)” opened May 29 in Berlin. Participants were 1500 delegates from Soviet Zone, “elected” May 15 and 16, and reportedly between 500 and 600 West Germans. Recent elections were repeatedly cited as giving People’s Congress its “democratic legitimation [legitimization] and right to speak in name of German people.”
Sign over speaker’s heads proclaimed “National Front for Unity and Just Peace,” and most of the numerous speeches were obligingly keyed to this theme, which has become, within recent months, the policy line for Communists and Soviet-oriented Germans. “Germany and Paris CFM” was subject first day’s speeches and discussion, and frequent references CFM were unanimous in backing Vishinsky position and deriding West Powers’ proposals of May 28.2
Principal speech at opening session was delivered by Wilhelm Pieck (Co-President of People’s Council and Co-Chairman of SED). He repeated charge he had made at January SED convention3 that West Powers under aegis American imperialism were making Germany “military operation base for new war,” and denounced West German politicians who support this policy instead of meeting in common all-German discussions as proposed by People’s Council.
Pieck may have strained credulity of his audience when he said: “German people can really count themselves lucky the Soviet Union belongs to victor powers. As socialist state it opposed imperialist plans, and as friend stands by German people in its demand for unity, just peace, and economic development.”
After expressing “hope and wish” that Great-Power agreement is reached on basis Potsdam, Pieck said:
“We know what difficulties to understanding for maintenance unity of Germany have been created by splitting measures of West occupation [Page 519]powers and that outlook for an understanding is only very slight Especially on account of proposals made yesterday by Bevin in name of West Powers at CFM which are downright insult to demands of German people for unity, just peace, and national autonomy.…4 Is it not an insult to German people when, in light of clear intention to make Germany a colony of American imperialism, West Powers talk about wanting to set up political and economic unity of Germany? It is possible that West Powers are letting themselves be guided in these proposals by bad business principle of demanding much in order that one may be able to yield a little, and that an understanding might even yet be reached.”
Pieck reiterated that National Front must comprise those groups which have not yet fallen in with People’s Congress Movement and added: “We wish to draw new forces into this movement for unity and just peace and economic upsurge and thereby create the great National People’s Movement in all Germany through which we can continue struggle for national autonomy and unity of Germany until it is achieved and secured. That is great task before whose fulfillment we stand and that is why this German People’s Congress was called.”
Following Pieck, Otto Nuschke (co-President People’s Council and Chairman Soviet Zone CDU) also attacked West Powers proposals at CFM and demanded that US Government recall its Berlin Sector Commandant, General Howley, because he had broken Four-Power agreement by ordering US Sector police to occupy S-bahn stations.
Max Reimann (KPD Chairman) did not appear at People’s Congress because of his rearrest by British Military Government. He was represented by Erich Ledwohn (KPD) who called National Front “great weapon of healthy part of our people against danger of chauvinism which is rising in West Germany and is used as weapon of imperialist interests.”
Ex-Wehrmacht General, Vincenz Mueller (NDP), talked about nationalism and merits of his party until he was interrupted by SED shouts: “This is no party convention!”
Both Erich Kastner (Soviet Zone LDP) and Prof. Niekisch of Kulturbund admitted that living standards were higher in West Zones than in Soviet Zone and attributed this to, respectively, “unscrupulous debts” and “parasitic living.”
Hans Jendretzky (SED) declared that Berlin problem could only be solved within framework of all-German settlement, and said that “those who talk so much of elections” should permit vote on question of unity and peace treaty or occupation statute and 30 year occupation.
According British-licensed Sozialdemokrat May 30, Pieck closed Sunday session with suggestion that delegates consider election of new [Page 520]“People’s Council” on Monday by acclamation because number of speakers led him to believe that secret vote would be “time consuming.”
Sent Department 858, repeated Paris for USDel 355, London 302, Moscow 92.