740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–349: Telegram
The Acting United States Political Adviser for Germany (Riddleberger) to the Acting Secretary of State
884. Remytel 872, June 2, repeated Paris 366.1 At three and one-half hour meeting of four Berlin commandants no progress was made on settlement of Berlin strike in spite of efforts and proposals of three Western commandants to find compromise solution.
Kotikov led off with proposal that West sector commanders order West sector police from stations, railroad yards, and other installations of railroads in order to permit railroad administration to “continue normal operations consistent with previous instructions.” He said that the Reichsbahndirektion had concluded an agreement with FDGB which provided for payment of 60 percent of wages in West marks. When Howley pointed out that workers had not returned to duty as result of this offer which therefore seemed to lack a certain realism, Kotikov retorted that it was only because of the action of saboteurs and criminals which prevented the workers from resuming their duties. His proposal was accompanied by a polemic largely repetitions of the accusations contained in recent letters from SMA on strike to effect that railroad operations had been disrupted by saboteurs and criminals. If proposal accepted, normal traffic could be at once resumed. The strike is handicapping the negotiations in Paris and Germans are utilizing strike for political purposes. The origin at [of?] the difficulty is to be found in the discrimination against railroad workers inherent in the West sector currency reform. He recalled that interruptions to traffic were only in West sectors and not in East sector, and that difficulties were the work of saboteurs and [Page 847] West sector police who were preventing the “normal” operation of the railroads.
Disregarding the tirade of Kotikov, the three West sector commandants, according to a prearranged agreement, attempted to find a basis for a solution through various compromises all conceived with the intent of a negotiation which the SMA could accept, as follows:
- Direct negotiation between Reichsbahndirektion and workers which would be accomplished by four commandants using their influence on giving orders to this effect.
- Negotiations between the RBD and acceptable bodies or persons who could speak for workers, as for example magistrat.
- Negotiations between any two persons suggested by RBD and two persons suggested by the workers.
- Arbitration whereby one representative would be appointed by RBD, one by workers and one acceptable to both.
Kotikov was also asked if West sector commandants issued interpretation of currency reform requiring 100 percent payment in West marks, would he permit RBD to comply?
Kotikov rejected categorically all of, these proposals and reverted to his original proposal explained above with elaborations and renewed accusations that difficulties stemmed from discriminations of currency reform and actions of West sector commandants in refusing to withdraw West sector police. He concluded by denying that meeting had been called at Soviet request. No date was set for future meetings.
Note that proposals of Western commandants did not take any fixed position on UGO demands, and therefore would not have required RBD recognition of UGO, would have made possible a realistic settlement of wage issue according to the West mark income of the railroads and left open the question of dismissals. In spite of this conciliatory attitude, Kotikov was adamant and Howley had impression that his instructions were rigid and gave him no latitude for negotiation.
In interview with Reuter last night, I explained the Western position and found him most cooperative in his attitude. He will use his influence with UGO to find a solution which takes into account the situation in Paris even to the extent of magistrat financing of part of wages if required. But in view of Kotikov’s attitude today, little prospect is seen of a rapid settlement.
Sent Department 884, repeated Paris 376.
- Not printed; it reported that the four Berlin Commandants were meeting at French Headquarters at 2:30 June 2, to discuss the rairoad strike. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–249)↩