740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–2649: Telegram

The Acting United States Political Adviser for Germany (Riddleberger) to the Secretary of State


1014. Personal for the Secretary from Murphy. As you may have learned from other sources the Executive Committees of the Berlin Independent Railway Workers Union and the Federation of Independent Trades Unions Organizations (UGO), acting jointly, after an all day session Sunday voted unanimously to declare the current strike at an end with resumption of work scheduled for Tuesday morning. This resolution accepted the conditions laid down in the commandants letter to the Magistrat the text of which was telegraphed to Department 25 June,1 referring to it as an order.

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The initial reaction of the city administration and of the railroad workers seems to be one of quiet satisfaction over the provision of payment of 100 percent of wages in West marks for the three month trial period. This feature harmonizes with the views of Reuter and his associates in the city administration and gives satisfaction to the strike leaders as a very material advantage which is welcome to the workers and their families. The fact that they have not succeeded in obtaining recognition by the railroad administration of the West Sector independent non-Communist union is a disappointment which was expected.

This satisfaction is tempered by an uneasiness as to the attitude, thus far undisclosed, of Communist ridden German railroad administration and the SMA. There is very real fear on the part of many of the workers of eventual reprisals which the Soviet controlled East police or other agencies may take against individual workers, some of whom are marked men. It will undoubtedly be necessary to sift out some of the latter who are unwilling to risk exposure and to send them to the West or provide other than railroad employment. This matter is being carefully studied both by the city administration and Allied manpower authorities.

But the sixty-four dollar question is whether the Soviet controlled Central Railroad Administration which is physically situated in the Soviet zone and sector will be permitted to cooperate. Thus far the offer of the trial military passenger train destined for Bremen and the German freight trains for which locomotives and crews necessary for the haul to the West zones were requested from the Potsdam Control Office has met with blank stare. The Soviet licensed Berlin press ordinarily a good barometer today gives factual treatment to the commandants letter.

It may well be that a brief period is necessary for our Soviet colleagues to think this over and after they learn of UGO’s action today in calling off the strike, the SMA may graciously permit the Central Railroad Administration to play ball with the strikers who return to> their jobs and thus achieve the “normal functioning” of the railroad on which there was agreement in the Paris modus vivendi.2 We shall probably not be able to ascertain this until Tuesday morning, when the crews will try to put the intra-city rapid railroad system (S-Bahn) back into operation. In the meantime, repairs of equipment in the yards are proceeding so that everything should be shipshape by Tuesday morning.

The deputy military governors have sent a formal invitation to General Chuikov to meet with them Tuesday in accordance with the [Page 855] provisions of the Paris modus vivendi regarding quadripartite consultation. Thus far Chuikov has remained silent. If he accepts this will provide a suitable forum for discussion of the rail situation provided that normal service is not permitted by Soviet controlled agencies to resume, then direct representations to Chuikov will be in order, and eventually if necessary representations on government level. I have discussed this with General Hays and the West commandants are giving it careful study.

As matters now stand with the strike officially ended, I believe the West authorities have done what is possible to put their house in order. The ball is now with the SMA. The latter has not shown its hand and we can only hope that given a reasonable time for recent rapid developments to percolate through the devious channels to the East, an agreeable attitude of cooperation may become evident. The situation is somewhat as it would be if a strike of railroad workers in the District of Columbia were ended without assurance of cooperation on the part of Virginia, including Senator Byrd, and Maryland.

It would be useful if you would ask Tracy Voorhees to give General Hays a pat on the back in your behalf. Hays and his people have made an all out effort during the past days to settle the strike. They have been badgered by the fear that they might be condemned as strikebreakers by trade union circles in the Union [United] States.3

  1. See telegram 1010, supra.
  2. Post, p. 1062.
  3. In subsequent telegrams Riddleberger reported on the return to work of the striking railroad workers, the commencement of railroad and S-Bahn service and a number of reprisals taken by the Soviet Military Administration. Documentation relating to these topics is in file 740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–2849 ff.