The situation in Berlin* (2023)

After the death of Mayor Reuter and before the recent negotiations between the four powers, the role of Berlin in world news seemed to have diminished. Reuter's name is indelibly identified with the dramatic events of the blockade and airlift, the constant defiance of free West Berlin in the face of unrelenting pressure from the Soviets and their German communist puppets. The wave of refugees, the East German uprisings of last June and the food distribution operation that followed that uprising: these historic events are unthinkable without the strong role played during these decisive years by Ernst Reuter. By his eloquence, his leadership, his frequent travels, he made the world aware of the chronic and dangerous disease in the center of Europe, which can be briefly characterized as "the situation in Berlin."

However, any calm in Berlin is temporary and illusory. The so-called “new course” proclaimed by the Communist Party in East Germany shortly before the June riots to appease the outraged feelings of East and West Germans was never taken seriously. After the initial shock of the riots, the regime struck back with full force. Once again, terror grips the East German population, with the result that the influx of refugees into West Berlin, which temporarily slowed down during the summer months, has once again increased to over 500 a day. A monstrous Free (Communist) German Youth demonstration, similar to those held in 1950 and 1951, is again being planned in East Berlin for next summer, with obvious implications for the security of West Berlin. The city's communications with West Germany are at the mercy of the Soviets and the German communists. All these factors will continue to militate against a return to normalcy in the oppressed city.

West Berlin is an island city of over two million souls, kept alive artificially with outside help. Currently, there is little prospect of a change for the better; instead, there is the constant reminder of the sea around them, threatening to engulf them all. Citizens become increasingly aware of a seemingly stagnant situation in their city, as well as in their personal lives. They feel that their fate is in the hands of outside forces, primarily those of the four occupying powers, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Soviet Russia.

But there is more to the situation in Berlin than that. A besieged city is also a fortress, and its citizens are soldiers. They have resisted the enemy time and time again: in 1946 by voting against communism, in 1948-49 when their city was blockaded, and since then in almost daily clashes with communist mobs and Russian soldiers. While the people of the remote western countries lived in safety and comfort, the Berliners fought and won their freedom many times.

The foreign visitor from the West will find Berlin a city of great vitality and stark contrasts. To reach it, you must fly - unless you come by government order in a sealed military train - and you will land at Templehof airfield in the heart of the city. Outside the air terminal, you'll notice a massive three-pronged concrete semi-arch reaching into the western sky, the Airlift Monument, symbolizing the "airlift" as the Germans called it, commemorating the soldiers and civilians who They gave their lives in the line of duty. He will also notice many buildings under construction, often with a Marshall Plan sign out front. But he will be much more impressed by the grim scene of destruction in large areas. The public buildings in the city center are almost all destroyed or missing, and the forestZoo Garden— Berlin's “Central Park” — has been completely stripped of its old trees (but already reforested). On the eastern fringe, or Soviet Sector, lie the charred ruins of the Reichstag building, its gutted steel dome looking like an enormous birdcage. The nearby dismantled Brandenburg Gate is now a gateway to the communist "workers' paradise," the land behind the Iron Curtain. The uninitiated visitor will, at first, be careful entering, frightened by the numerous reports of shootings and kidnappings. He will soon discover, however, that he can come and go unobserved and undisturbed if he behaves discreetly.

The status of Berlin is full of paradoxes. Area occupied quadripartite by international agreement, it isin facta divided city, its eastern half ruled by the Soviets and its western half by the US, UK and France. Its two German prefectures claim jurisdiction over the entire city; in fact, there is almost no official contact between the western and eastern authorities. Formerly the capital of the German Reich, Berlin is now neither part of the West German Federal Republic nor the communist-dominated "German Democratic Republic" in the Soviet Occupation Zone. It is no man's land under the fictitious government of four powers, and each occupying power seems determined not to upset this precarious balance.

There is no doubt that the geographical isolation of West Berlin is beginning to affect the morale of its citizens. The few who can afford it fly to West Germany on vacation, others risk the 102-mile journey to the West German zonal border by train, bus or car, risking their liberty and property while subject to strict inspections by the Communist Party of the Town. . Police at zonal checkpoints. More like-. You can never, ever, risk or afford to travel through the Soviet Zone. These people, many of whom come from the Soviet zone, suffer from this restriction of movement and the apparent hopelessness of their situation. At the same time, they are witnessing almost daily persecution by communists, interference with their transport on the roads, trains and barges on the canals, arbitrary confiscations of property, cars and money, as well as the occasional murder and kidnapping of his fellow citizens. . Without losing their heads, West Berliners await action. They seek protection from Western commanders against recurring violations from the East and, in many cases, do not get it. They implore the Allies almost frantically to "stand firm" in their rights, to meet Communist outrages with a firm hand, to resist force with force. Above all, they try to detect an allied policy aimed at solving the problem of Berlin. . . and finds nothing more than to try to keep thedel status quo.

Political Context 1945-49

Strange as it may seem today, the four-party occupation of Berlin was agreed to before the German surrender, apparently without any provision for secure lines of communication across the Soviet Zone. This incredible omission, decisive for both the political and military operation of the occupation, is directly attributable to US policy in 1944-45. The tripartite European Advisory Commission that drew up the occupation plans for the respective areas and for Berlin did not provide for free access, mainly over the objections of Ambassador Winant, the US representative on the Commission. Winant claimed that the occupation of Berlinby the fact itselfit implied free access, and that insisting on guarantees would only arouse the suspicions of the Soviets. In his attitude towards the Soviets, Winant certainly had the support of the main members of the Roosevelt administration and, above all, of the American F.D.R. himself of those years.

In the absence of an agreement, General Lucius D. Clay, Lieutenant Military Governor of the United States, in his first conferences with the Soviet commander, Marshal Zhukov, went to great lengths to obtain a specific commitment guaranteeing free use of the highways. , railways and air services. routes The marshal, offering various excuses, agreed to give the Western allies only one highway, one railway line, and three air corridors. General Clay and his British counterpart, General Weeks, grudgingly agreed to this as a "temporary" solution, hoping to reopen the issue in the Allied Control Council (which, of course, would be paralyzed by the veto). Even this temporary agreement was only an oral gentlemen's agreement that would cease to be in force as soon as either of the contracting parties ceased to be gentlemen. It has been argued, of course, that the Soviets, being what they are, would choose to commit aggression when it suits them, whether or not there is a firm written agreement. However, there is no doubt that a written contract would have clarified the situation and strengthened the Allied position in West Berlin. Our experience in negotiating with the Soviets shows that the latter can be rigid when it comes to interpreting legal subtleties and, in many cases, exploit situations that are legally far from clear.

With the status of Allied interzone communications still extremely vague, American troops, encountering Soviet obstructions from the start, proceeded in early July 1945 to enter and occupy their sector in Berlin. Simultaneously, American troops carried out a swift and orderly withdrawal from Saxony and Thuringia, which they had conquered but which by prior agreement had been assigned to the Soviet Zone. One can imagine the smiles on Soviet officials when they saw us parting ways with two industrial provinces that would have been an asset in our hands in any future negotiations over Berlin and Germany.

The reasons for the collapse of the four-party government in Berlin were similar to those that led to the failure of the occupation of Germany as a whole. From the beginning, the Soviets applied in their zone and in Berlin the same measures that they had already used successfully in their “liberated” areas and which were aimed at reducing East Germany to satellite status. While Western representatives in the Allied Kommandature, established in July 1945 to govern Berlin, made a genuine, almost heroic effort to make a four-power government a success, the Soviets used the veto vigorously, making a policy of veto impossible. uniform occupation. . . The latter isolated his sector and zone as far as possible from the rest of Germany, the better to Sovietize these areas. Western commanders somewhat aided and abetted this process by agreeing to Kommandatura Order No. 1, which decrees that all Soviet regulations and decrees issued prior to the arrival of Western troops must remain in effect "until special notice." Needless to say, such notice was never given, as it would have required a unanimous decision by the Kommandatura. It is also interesting that, despite repeated requests, the Soviets never bothered to inform Western commanders of the exact content of these earlier regulations.

Fortunately, subsequent political events prevented a court decision. The citizens of Berlin in their first free election in October 1946, held under the supervision of four powers, repudiated the communists (who received less than 20% of the vote) and established a genuinely democratic municipal government. From that moment on, the Soviets realized that they could never hope to dominate all of Berlin by legal and democratic means. Relying on Article 36 of the Berlin temporary constitution of 1946, which gave each commander the right to do whatever he wanted in his own sector (a provision that, of course, met with the unanimous approval of the Kommandatura), they retained recognition Anti-communist officials were elected and arbitrarily appointed communists in their places. By the end of 1946, almost all the mayors and heads of personnel departments in the Soviet sector were communists.

It was at this time that the name of Ernst Reuter became known to the outside world. he had been elected mayor (Oberbuergermeister) in the summer of 1947, but the Soviets, again hiding behind Article 36, refused to recognize it. The deputy mayor, Frau Luise Schroeder, a brave and capable woman, became acting mayor during the next difficult months that saw the complete division of the city. As a former communist leader, Reuter was particularly anathema to the Soviets. He was in Russia in the days of the Revolution, he met Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin and was instrumental in founding the “Volga Republic” (an area colonized by the Germans in the 18th century). In 1921, after becoming general secretary of the German Communist Party, he resigned from the party and went over to the more moderate Social Democrats.

It is almost surprising that the division of the city did not take place sooner, given that the city hall and government offices were located in the Soviet Sector and vulnerable to communist chicanes. During the summer of 1948, after the Soviets withdrew from Allied Command, they began to interfere more and more with the government of the city. Communist mobs rallied in front of the city's assembly building and on several occasions prevented the assembly from meeting while Soviet-controlled police stood idly by. On September 6, 1948, the assembly moved to a building in the secure British Sector. Several city departments also moved to West Berlin. After several “spontaneous” requests from certain pro-communist workers' and women's groups for an immediate session of the assembly, a mass meeting was held on November 30 at the State Opera. The 236 members of the parties of the so-called "Democratic Bloc" (including 26 communist members of the legal assembly), plus 229 representatives of communist-controlled "mass organizations" (trade unions, youth and women's organizations) and more than 1,000 East Berlin Factories delegates sacked the legal municipal government and "unanimously" elected a puppet "Magistrat".

The head of this “Opera Magistrat”, as West Berliners called it, became, paradoxically, Friedrich Ebert, son of the first president of the Weimar Republic and one of the great leaders of German democracy. The remainder of the legally elected city government moved to Schoeneberg City Hall in the American Sector, where it still stands today. It would soon be headed by Ernst Reuter, who was re-elected in the December elections, held five days after the split.

the block

These dramatic events took place when Berlin was already in its sixth month of total lockdown. The four-power military government has long since ceased to function. The meeting of the Allied Control Council on March 20, 1948 was abruptly interrupted by the then president, Marshal Sokolovsky. Not only was no date set for the next meeting, but even more disturbingly, the president left without inviting his colleagues for the usual coffee and snacks. The last meeting of the Kommandatura on June 16 was interrupted under similar circumstances. Allied relations, official and social, progressively deteriorated. The attitude of Marshal Sokolovsky, whom General Clay described as "usually witty and agreeable," seemed to have changed overnight, so that by March Clay definitely sensed that something unusual was in the air. In his special report to General Bradley, US Chief of Staff Clay, a man not given to alarmist views, stated that he anticipated some Soviet action and, in measured words, indicated that he could no longer rule out the possibility of war. . Shortly thereafter, the Soviets began to interfere with our transports which, on June 24, 1948, brought rail, road and barge traffic to and from Berlin to a complete standstill.

It is difficult to see today how the fate of the Free World depended on the Allies' decision to remain in Berlin or not. The atmosphere in those June days was tense both in Washington and in Berlin. In its daily teleconferences with Berlin, the Department of the Army suggested the withdrawal of the American dependents from Berlin. It is the eternal credit of General Clay that during those anxious days he maintained an attitude of unwavering firmness and courage. The messages from him to Bradley make for impressive reading. “The evacuation” (of American dependents), he cabled on April 2, “before the Italian elections and the European situation is almost unthinkable for me. Our women and children can take it and appreciate the importance.” And again on April 10,—

We lost Czechoslovakia, Norway is threatened. We withdraw from Berlin. When Berlin falls, West Germany will be next. If we are going to... support Europe against communism, we must not give in. We can endure the humiliation and pressure before the war in Berlin without losing face. If we withdraw, our position in Europe will be threatened. If America doesn't understand this now, now that it knows the issue is at stake, then it will never understand and communism will run rampant. . . .

We stayed. Our decision was strongly supported by Berliners. All of them, except for the few communists, expressed their firm determination to resist. Many of them wished that General Clay could have accomplished what he had proposed to his superiors, namely, send an armed convoy through the Soviet Zone. This, they felt, would have brought reason to the Soviets, but according to General Clay, the plan was vetoed in Washington.

The world remembers the miracle of the allied airlift organized by the Americans and the British to supply the city. During the ten months of the blockade (and a few weeks after), the Allied Combined Airlift Task Force transported more than 2,300,000 tons of food, coal, and other supplies on 279,114 round trips to Berlin. This not only served to keep West Berlin's 2,100,000 inhabitants fed and housed (food rations increased by 220 calories to 2,000 calories per day for the "normal consumer"), but also kept industries and markets running. most essential public services. The entire free world has joined this great effort, donating hundreds of thousands of packages. The spirit of camaraderie between Berliners and Allied personnel is illustrated by gestures such as the parachute drop of candy - "Operation Little Vittles" - by American pilots. Despite the blackout and cold, the scramble for food and fuel, the anxiety and uncertainty, West Berliners all but rejected the cynical communist offers of food and milk. On September 9, around 300,000 Berliners gathered for a protest rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate and, under the leadership of their eloquent mayor, voiced their defiance of the Soviets. Russian soldiers opened fire as youths from West Berlin climbed over the Brandenburg Gate to remove the Soviet flag, but order was restored thanks to the calm efficiency of British soldiers.

The real reasons behind the Berlin blockade were covered up under official pretexts. The alleged "technical difficulties" that halted all shipping were not imposed by the Soviets solely in retaliation for currency reform in West Germany (and later in Berlin), which the Soviets claimed would have an adverse effect on the economy of their area. When Marshal Sokolovsky was asked by the three Western military governors on July 3 to express concern about deteriorating four-party relations, he let the cat loose by saying bluntly that "technical difficulties" would continue as long as the Western powers persisted in their plans. for a West Germany. government. Such plans were, of course, in the works and were preceded by a merger of the British and American zones in early 1947. After three years of unsuccessful attempts to obtain a Soviet agreement on the economic unification of Germany in accordance with the Agreement of Potsdam, the Western Allies had no choice but to consolidate and strengthen West Germany. It should be noted that when West Germany was about to take another step towards sovereignty with the adoption of the "contractual" and European defense agreements, the Soviets employed similar methods of harassment against Berlin in the hope of preventing, or at least delaying, these developments.

economic dilemma

The spiritual elevation and exuberance gained from breaking the blockade helped West Berliners through the difficult months that followed. For as magnificent and successful as the airlift was, it actually accomplished very little except a return to thedel status quobefore. West Berlin's isolation continued and its communications were as precarious and subject to arbitrary obstruction as before. The effects of its displaced economy became apparent after the blockade was lifted. Due to war damage and Russian looting, Berlin lost more than eighty percent of its industrial equipment, a much higher percentage than in West Germany. The introduction of a hard West Mark coin in Berlin, worth five to seven times as much as the East Mark, prevented normal trade with the East Zone (but produced a thriving black market). The number of unemployed rose from 150,000 in May 1949 (when the lockdown was lifted) to nearly 300,000 by the end of December, or more than a quarter of the working population. It has remained above 200,000 ever since (in part due to the influx of refugees), despite heroic American and German efforts and assistance. Its industrial recovery suffered a terrible setback with the blockade, so that its rate of production at the end of 1949 was only 25% of that of 1936, while West Germany's production hovered around 100%. At the end of 1953, when West Germany's production as a whole was almost 170% compared to 1936, West Berlin's rate was around 65% and has not exceeded much today.

Although everything possible has been done to boost Berlin's economy over the past three years, the city is still heavily dependent on foreign aid. The crux of the problem is that Berlin must import twice as much as it can export, and this gap must somehow be filled with external resources. Assistance from the Federal Republic of Germany in the form of emergency taxes and regular subsidies contributes to more than a third of Berlin's budget. ERP and MSA credits and so-called GARIOA (Government and Aid in Occupied Areas) matching funds were injected generously into the economy to stimulate production and absorb unemployment.

To stimulate trade, an Industry Fair and the so-called “Green Week”, or Agricultural Fair (in a city without farms and farmers!) are held in Berlin every year. These extensive and impressive exhibitions, which are visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors from the East Zone, testify to the initiative and capacity of Berlin's industry and science. In keeping with Berlin's tradition and also in keeping with its current transportation difficulties, Berlin's industry focuses on high-quality finished products: electrical equipment, precision and optical instruments, chemicals, textiles, and clothing.

The most important requirement for the Berlin economy is trust. The confidence of West German businessmen in Berlin's production and delivery capacity is steadily increasing, but it is still far from good. Losses suffered over the past few years due to delays and confiscation of assets through Soviet harassment tactics greatly discouraged West Germans from doing business with Berlin. This dilemma is gradually being overcome with the provision of indemnity insurance and tax cuts so that, with the help of the Allies and Germany, more orders have been channeled into Berlin than ever before.

The dangers of interzonal transport

Uncertainties in Berlin's lines of communication with the West remain the crucial factor for the future development of the city. Despite orders from the Paris Conference of Foreign Ministers in May 1949 to Allied commanders to take all necessary steps to "normalize" conditions in Berlin, life has, in fact, been far from normal. . A catalog of incidents and difficulties caused by communist harassment of Berlin traffic and transportation (Allies and Germans) would cover virtually every calendar day and every phase of transportation.

An outsider would find it difficult to understand the red tape and dangers involved in shipping a consignment of goods from Berlin to West Germany. The documentation must be prepared weeks in advance and must show, in addition to a detailed list of the goods, the origin of the raw materials that gave rise to the finished product. These certificates of origin, ordelivery notes, they were just another Soviet invention and violated all previous procedures and agreements. It was another provocation that we grudgingly accepted, and we solved the problem by instituting, in the summer of 1951, little-known commercial air transportation for light and valuable cargo.

The distance from Berlin to the West German zonal border is 102 miles, normally a comfortable 2 hour drive on one of Adolf Hitler's superhighways, orroads. However, the experienced trucker from Berlin will prepare to spend several nights on the road. Your first stop is at the entrance to the Autobahn on the outskirts of Berlin, where the Communist People's Police will check your documents. It then continues on its journey, but will stop intermittently "for inspection". He must meticulously watch the ever-changing speed limits and other traffic directions, as the maintenance of the superhighway leaves much to be desired. The temporary wooden bridge over the Elbe River is the same one built in 1945 by US Army engineers, across which our driver must drive at the non-Stakhanovite speed of 5 kilometers (3 miles) per hour, or risk a fine. If you want to pay this fine with East Marks, you will be guilty, as a West Berliner, of “illegal” possession of East Zone currency; if you have Westmarks, you are again found guilty of carrying "illegal" currency in the East Zone. In either case, he is eligible to be relieved of his money.

As the truck driver approaches the Russian checkpoint near Helmstedt on the western zonal border, he can see a line of trucks one to three miles long, at the end of which he must set up. He will soon find out from his fellow waiters what the situation is that day; whether the communist inspection officers are harsh or indifferent, whether they are cleaning trucks at the rate of ten, five, or two an hour, or possibly none at all. Either way, he's resigned to a day or two of waiting. While German and Allied passenger cars drive by and complete paperwork in ten to fifteen minutes, truckers hang out by their vehicles, having picnics, playing cards and warming up.

The actual control of the People's Police involves meticulous and malicious inspection of the contents of each container of goods, looking for goods that were allegedly obtained illegally in the Soviet Zone. These assets are immediately seized, sometimes including the truck and everything. If for any reason the documentation is deemed insufficient, the truck returns to Berlin. But if all goes well, the driver can go through the barrier, past the Russian soldier and into the West Free Zone, breathing a sigh of relief.

The character and speed of the communist inspection procedure, as well as all other travel conditions in thehighway, vary capriciously from one day to the next. The People's Police can confiscate scrap metal one day, rubber tires the next, and “subversive” Western literature (and what isn't subversive?) at all times. Traffic rules can change, suddenly an exorbitant toll can be charged (usually the use of thehighwayit's free), US and UK highway patrols can be stopped by the Russians - anything can happen in this "1984" land and in almost every case we had to "take it".

No means of communication and transportation is exempt from Soviet interference (except our radiotelephones). Barges carrying large amounts of coal and scrap through an intricate system of canals were intercepted and confiscated. The communist-controlled canal locks were kept “out of order” for months. The transport of goods by rail is subject to the same inspections and risks as trucks. Even Allied planes were harassed by droning and shooting Soviet pilots.

Only a few effective means of retaliation remain in the West. It is true that trains and canals from the East Zone cross the territory of West Berlin and can be easily intercepted (as has been done). But the Soviets built a diversion system of rails and canals, thus evading Western controls. There are still several Soviet enclaves in West Berlin: Communist-controlled "Radio Berlin", the headquarters building of theReichsbahn(East Zone Railway Administration) and the Soviet War Memorial inZoo GardenOutside the Brandenburg Gate. These could be occupied by Western commanders, as indeed West Berliners constantly ask them to do. These Soviet islets, along with the Soviet-controlled railways running through the city, make a convenient offshore base for disruptive operations against West Berlin.

The only serious weapon we have is counterblocking. The Soviet Zone builds on its ambitious Five-Year Plan for Western steel, machine tools, ball bearings, and other industrial products. It was mainly the counter-blockade of 1948-49 that induced the Soviets to lift the blockade of Berlin. Although this retaliatory measure has lost some of its force in light of the recent industrial advance in the Eastern Zone, its application would still cause profound damage. However, for it to be effective, sincere cooperation from the West is needed, and some of our European friends, in particular the United Kingdom, would have considerable reservations in this regard.

A look at East Berlin

A brief look at life behind the Iron Curtain in East Berlin will do more to convince the visitor of Berlin's importance to the Free World than anything else. In general, Germans or foreigners had no particular difficulty entering the Soviet sector by car, subway, elevator, or on foot. At every corner along the sector borders there are warning or beckoning signs (whichever way you look at it): "You are leaving the American Sector" and "Democratic Sector Start" (what the communists look like).

While crossing the sector boundary seems inconspicuous, the contrasts between the two worlds are stark. The streets of the Soviet Sector are dark and silent, most of the storefronts half empty or full of third-rate goods and substitutes. The people wear dark, tattered clothing and carry strangely shaped loads. Their faces lack animation and reflect the melancholy and despair of their souls. They speak rarely and quietly to avoid being noticed by the ever-present security police and undercover informants. The streets are festooned with communist propaganda posters, their slogans supported by public speakers railing against "Anglo-American imperialists," "General War Treaties" (referring to pending contractual agreements with West Germany), and glorifying the Soviet Union, his “great friend” and “the most progressive and peace-loving nation in the world”.

The town center around Unter den Linden is a macabre caricature of what it once was. Totally unrecognizable, entire structures like Hitler's Reich Chancellery and the Kaiser's palace have been dismantled to the last stone. Unlike West Berlin, there is little construction activity here, except for official projects like the Soviet House of Culture and the luxurious Soviet Embassy. An east-facing street, aptly renamed "Stalinallee", has been transformed at the Stakhanovite pace into a communist storefront, a massive housing project primarily for communist workers and civil servants.

From the "workers' paradise" flows an endless stream of refugees. Since the communists closed the western zonal borders in May 1952, Berlin has remained the only accessible haven. The flow of refugees has been around four to five thousand a month since the end of the blockade, but has increased with each wave of terror to more than a thousand a day (in the spring of 1953) and was around 500 a day at the end of of 1953. 1953. Includes people of all ages and walks of life: businessmen and professionals and, occasionally, high-ranking officials from the Eastern Zone and political leaders who have broken away from the regime. This human river is carefully screened by municipal selection committees to protect it against spies and other undesirable elements. Those who qualify as bona fide political fugitives are temporarily placed in one of the city's eighty-odd refugee camps. After a brief stay, more than ninety percent of them are taken to refugee centers in West Germany; the rest, plus thousands of unrecognized refugees, remain to swell Berlin's army of the unemployed.

Cultural life

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Berlin today is its cultural life, which is unlike any other metropolis, let alone before the war. Mindful of Berlin's tradition as a great cultural center, the city fathers are determined to restore the arts to their former level. But the city's division, isolation and strained finances militate against that. The result is amazingpotpourriof cultural effort of a somewhat uneven character, but full of enthusiasm, individuality and healthy realism.

In Berlin, the proverbial universality of the arts collapses at sectoral boundaries. On both sides of the line are half a dozen legitimate theaters, an opera house, a symphony orchestra, radio stations, colleges and universities. East of the line, the work of all cultural institutions is enlisted by communist officials. During the first postwar years, the stage and opera in East Berlin far exceeded those in West Berlin; performances like that of Bert BrechtMutter coragem, miMister. Puntila and her servantthey were admired by Berliners regardless of their political alignment. In recent years, however, actors, singers and theater directors employed by the communist authorities have lost their professional autonomy. They were forced to collaborate on outrageously political rather than artistic works, glorifying “activism”, collective farming and other virtues of “popular democracies”, avoiding the heresies of formalism, cosmopolitanism and objectivism. For this reason, most of the leading artists left East Berlin, despite the almost vulgar incentives offered by the communists.

West Berlin's cultural life, on the other hand, is the unmasked expression of its troubled political existence, of its militant faith in the free West. There is no neutrality in the arts. Artists employed by the West Berlin government (which includes most of them) are prohibited from performing in East Berlin. Outside guest artists who still accept engagements on both sides of the Iron Curtain are definitely frowned upon.

The basic intellectual currents of the West (cosmopolitanism, liberalism, humanism, as well as existentialism and avant-garde) are reflected in the rich repertoire of the theaters of West Berlin. Carl Zuckmayer's Postwar Works:general diabo, misinging in the oven, dealing with the theme of resistance (to Nazism), made a deep impression on the audience in Berlin. The plays by the French Catholic authors Claudel and Bernanos, with strong religious themes, had a special meaning for the Berliners, at a time when their co-religionists in the Soviet Zone were being persecuted. The international and modern character of the repertoire is attested by the numerous successful performances of works by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and John van Druten; Sartre, Girodoux and Anouilh; J. B. Priestly, T. S. Eliot and Christopher Fry (the last two not so popular); Garcia Lorca and Peter Ustinov. In addition to these, significant and original stagings of German and foreign classics are presented, in particular Shakespeare Schiller, Hauptmann and Kleist. The city's opera repertoire is still dominated by Wagner and Verdi, but the works of contemporaries Stravinsky, Britten, Menotti, Honegger, Hindemith, Blacher, Egk, and von Einem have also received considerable prominence.

In order to offset the cultural propaganda in East Berlin, as well as to restore Berlin to its original position of cultural leadership, an annual "Berlin Cultural Festival" has been established since 1951, with the cooperation and assistance of the Western Allies. While this festival still lacks the glitz and tradition of the Edinburgh and Salzburg festivals, it has already brought some of the world's leading ensembles to Berlin. Events over the past three years have included the New York City Ballet and Sadler's Wells Ballet, the Old Vic Company,Oklahoma, miPorgy and Bess(with the original cast), and the Popular National Theater of Paris.

the free university

The creation of a “Free University” in the summer of 1948 (during the blockade) was one of the boldest achievements of the fighting spirit in Berlin. When it became clear that the Soviets were determined to transform the famous Berlin University, located in their sector, into a Marxist institution, and several democratic student leaders were arrested and expelled, it was the students who took the initiative to found a new, truly free , university in West Berlin. They were encouraged and helped by the American authorities who made available several buildings that had belonged to Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft. Unfortunately, at first, almost no professor was willing to risk his career in such an adventure, and the difficulties in organizing a college and providing physical facilities were enormous. Today it is a thriving institution of 6,000 students (35 percent from the Soviet zone) and around 400 faculty, housed in some forty odd-sized buildings scattered throughout the city. As the university owes its existence in large measure to the initiative of the students, they received a considerable part of its government; Student representatives participate, with full voting rights, in all university governing bodies, from the board of directors to the student admissions committees. In no other university in the world do students have such extensive powers and responsibilities, and experience has shown that they are fully worthy of the trust placed in them. Politically, the students of the Free University are the most alert in Germany: they did not allow the resurrection of the reactionary fraternities (corporations), which reappeared in all West German universities and revived their outdated practices, including dueling.

Due to its vital educational mission in Berlin, the Free University still receives an annual subsidy of half a million dollars from the United States High Commissioner (the Germans contribute five times that amount). The Ford Foundation has awarded a $1,300,000 grant for buildings with vital needs, while the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation, as well as several American universities and voluntary organizations, continually help with books, financial donations, and chair exchanges.

future perspective

At this point it is appropriate to ask what are the prospects for a solution to the Berlin problem. Also, what was the Berlin policy of the previous government (if any) and what should the current policy be? Before these questions can be answered, some basic facts about Berlin must be extracted from an extremely complex situation.

First of all, it is quite clear that neither the East nor the West can and will not leave Berlin. While the current stalemate is unsatisfactory and painful for both parties, a unilateral solution would be far worse.

The loss or abandonment of Berlin would mean an incalculable defeat for the free world. This would not only entail the betrayal of more than two million Berliners and their surrender to communist revenge, but would also deal a death blow to the confidence of millions of oppressed people behind the Iron Curtain, especially the twenty million Germans in the East Zone. , as well as the people of West Germany, Western Europe and the entire free world. However, it is safe to say that the Western Allies never seriously contemplated abandoning Berlin.

In the current Cold War, ownership of Berlin represents certain tangible advantages for the West. Berlin, the "showcase of the East", gives us a very clear view of the state and course of things on earth behind the Iron Curtain. More importantly, it also allows the people of the East to invigorate and fortify themselves with an occasional glimpse of the free world. What does this mean for a young teacher, for example, who is forced every day to live a double life: subservient to the dictates of the Party while at school, true to himself only in the privacy of his home, and always assaulted by a 'fear'? that he could be the next victim of terror - what it means for such a person to be able to take a train to Berlin and in a few hours see, hear and say everything his oppressed heart yearned for, is a difficult thing for us in the Western world who you can happily take these freedoms for granted. Americans in Berlin who have contact with Germans from the East Zone and who have often witnessed these moving scenes can testify to how great the moral uplift is in West Berlin for free to East German visitors. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that continued contact with the free world through the Berlin window is acondition sine qua nonto preserve the morale of anti-communist Germans in the East.

Another clear advantage is the fact that free Berlin is slowing down the process of sovietization in the East Zone. The ever-present manifestation of the Western way of life forces communists to compete, at least externally, with the standards that prevail in the West. This necessarily implies a delay in its own program of political, economic and cultural regimentation. Conditions deeper in the Soviet Zone are known to be considerably worse than in East Berlin.

As long as West Berlin is free, the Soviets will never have complete control of their area, nor will their puppet state, the "German Democratic Republic", become a reliable satellite. Free Berlin is a thorn in the flesh of the Soviets, and it is up to us to keep it there until they are ready to accept a united and democratic Germany.

Returning, then, to the first question, it is clear that US policy in recent years has been nothing more and nothing less than to hold Berlin at all costs. Also, there is no policy for what can be detected. Maintaining Berlin, protecting its communications, maintaining a viable economy through external financial assistance, and protecting the city from communist aggression: these are not inconsequential commitments; that's a policy. Time and again our statesmen have enunciated this policy in public statements for all men to hear. One of the most incisive statements of American policy in Berlin was made by Dean Acheson in June 1952, in connection with the laying of the cornerstone for a new US-funded public library building in Berlin. Although he spoke in English, during a lengthy ceremony under a scorching sun, some 100,000 Berliners standing on nearby rubble erupted in instant applause as Acheson said: “We also state in no uncertain terms that we will regard any attack on Berlin from anywhere as an attack against our forces and against ourselves. These words, spoken at a time when the communists were creating a three-mile "death strip" along the western zonal border and issuing new threats against West Berlin, did much to reassure Berliners and fill their hearts. again courage.

It is doubtful that a new government can effect much change in our Berlin policy. Rarely has politics been so exclusively shaped by the logic of difficult events known to all. Few have been so objective, so free from partisan considerations. It is true that our methods from time to time could have been more vigorous, responding to every aggressive communist move with harsh retaliatory measures. It is perfectly conceivable that we would have scored big by taking over the Soviet enclaves in West Berlin, arresting or shooting the Russians. But the decision not to do so was made in all cases by a high-level interdepartmental group in Washington and was based on the overall military and political situation obtained at the time.

Keeping Berlin also involved another political decision for which the Western Allies were sometimes criticized, especially by Berliners. This was the decision to exclude Berlin from the Federal Republic of West Germany at a time when it was about to receive sovereign status under "contractual arrangements". The decision was the result of the need to preserve Berlin's quadripartite status. Giving up this status by making West Berlin an integral part of West Germany would deprive us of our legal right to remain in Berlin. It would give the Soviets the much-desired legal arguments to demand our withdrawal.

In view of the intermittent waves of terror in the Soviet zone and the continuing sieges against West Berlin, it is likely that the West will have to make even greater sacrifices to hold Berlin. Communist tactics are designed to separate West Berlin from East Berlin and the East Zone. A little over a year ago, telephone connections between the two parts of the city were cut, most of the roads in the zone border were blocked and some suburban trains were stopped “for repairs”. The Soviets no doubt calculate that these measures, which can be repeated and intensified at will, will further weaken West Berlin's economy and undermine the morale of its citizens. They evidently hope that West Berlin will eventually wither to the point where maintaining it is no longer profitable or possible for the Western allies.

The Berlin problem can only be resolved within the framework of German reunification. So far, the Soviets have not seen fit to enter into serious negotiations to this end. The recent conference of the four powers only reemphasized, perhaps more forcefully than ever, the well-known and well-worn Soviet position. In the meantime, the West must continue to strengthen itself politically, economically, and militarily, until a reunited Germany is clearly preferable tobothsides, instead of the current precarious stalemate. Until that time comes, we can only have one policy: stay in Berlin.

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