How Germany was divided
Chapter 4, It started with the Bi-zone
At the some time that at the foreign ministers' conferences in Paris, Moscow and London in 1946-47 the western powers were stubbornly opposing the Soviet proposal to form a central German government, they pursued in their occupation zones an ever sharper course towards the division of Germany, at first by forming the bi-zone from the American and British zone. They knew they were in full accord with the West German big industrialists and their political spokesmen in the West German CDU, in particular Konrad Adenauer.
As is openly admitted in his book Decision in Germany by General Lucius D. Clay, up to 1949 head of the military government in the American zone, it had already been decided on 26 May 1946-ten months after the Potsdam Agreement-"to approach the British in order to learn of their readiness to unite their occupation zone with ours" (p.95). Clay added that he had already discussed essentials of the bi-zone fusion with US Secretary of State Byrnes in the spring of 1946 (p. 96).
In the same year, on 2 December, the foreign ministers of the USA and Great Britain, Byrnes and Bevin, signed in New York the agreement on the economic merger of the American and British zones, the establishment of the bi-zone. The British paper O b s e r v e r had already written on this agreement on 25 November 1946: "The plan therefore proceeds from the fact that the economic unity of Germany will not be restored."
With their signatures Byrnes and Bevin sealed the first act of the division of Germany. This occurred "in clear recognition of the political consequences of such a merger ..." (Clay, op. cit., p.95). Point 5 of the bi-zonal agreement stated: "It is the aim of the two governments to attain a self-supporting economy in this area by the end of 1949." In September 1949 the West German state was founded (see chapter 7). What a coincidence!
Already at the beginning of 1947 there was a big gap between West and East Germany. It was to be speedily deepened, for the bi-zone was only an intermediate stage on the road to the West German separatist state.
At the end of June 1947-without any legitimation by the people-the bi-zonal Economic Council, headed by CDU politician Dr. Erich Köhler-started its work in Frankfurt-on-Main. This council was composed of prominent friends and financiers of Hitler, headed by the notorious banker Pferdmenges-at that time Germany's richest man. At the beginning of February 1948 this Economic Council was expanded into a de-facto parliament. Parallel with it that extensive administrative body was founded of which General Clay wrote: "We didn't have a government, but we had a government apparatus." (op. cit., p. 208)
The outlines of the planned separatist state become ever more visible. On 24 July 1947 the American news magazine N e w s w e e k reported that "studies are being made with regard to the forming of a separate government for West Germany". In view of this policy of the western powers which coincided with the plans of West German big capitol, it was obvious that their representatives in the Allied Control Council opposed the Potsdam decisions more openly from month to month.
The heads of government of the USA, Great Britain and the Soviet Union had fixed in the Potsdam Agreement the establishment of five central German administrative departments (for finance, transport, traffic, foreign trade and industry), which were to be directed by state secretaries. Because of the resistance of the western representatives in the Control Council, not one of these secretariats was established. The Soviet Union repeatedly proposed the adoption of a decree which was to permit the merger of the democratic parties on an all-Germany level. The British delegation in the Political Directorate of the Control Council, however, declared unmistakably that it could not agree "to such an important step which would lead to the political unity of Germany". (Protocol of the session of the coordinating committee of the Control Council of 14 September 1947)
The German representatives of the restoration applauded each of these steps of the western powers. Not only that. Where there was a beginning of democratic reforms (for example, the West German provincial diets of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein had, among others, adopted land-reform laws), they called for their prohibition by the occupation authorities who were only too pleased to oblige.
Whereas the western powers, the leadership of the West German CDU and the other restoration forces thus jointly and step by step destroyed the unity of Germany, the parties of East Germany, united in the anti-fascist democratic bloc, did everything possible to save the unity of Germany. Special efforts were made by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. On 14 November 1946, its Executive Committee submitted to the public for discussion the draft of a constitution for a united German democratic republic. Only a few months later, on 1 March 1947, the SED demanded "a plebiscite on the establishment of a united state". But every one of these initiatives from the East was rejected by the West German CDU and also by the SPD leaders.
At the beginning of July 1947 a first and only meeting of the prime ministers of all German provinces took place. The representatives from East Germany energetically insisted that the conference should discuss the unity of Germany as the first item on the agenda. Dr. Hans Erhard, the CSU prime minister of Bavaria, however, replied: "There is no sense in adopting such on agenda." Thus this initiative, too, was thwarted by the resistance of the West German heads of the provinces.
In the autumn of 1947 Germany's patriots replied to the western powers' and the CDU's splitting policy with the formation of a broad movement to restore the unity of Germany. On 6 and 7 December of that year the First German People's Congress for unity and a just peace met in Berlin with more than 650 delegates from the German western zones participating. A delegation elected by the congress was to explain the German point of view to the London Foreign Ministers' Conference of the four powers held at that time. But the British government refused entry visas to the delegation!
On 15 December 1947 the London Foreign Ministers' Conference ended without results, since the three western foreign ministers refused to introduce measures for the consistent implementation of the Potsdam Agreement and for ensuring the unity of Germany. The restoration forces in West Germany were exultant. Already on 16 November 1947 the N e w Y o r k T i m e s had published a detailed report by its correspondent Jack Raymond from Frankfurt-on-Main, which read: "German financiers today show themselves to be enthusiastic about future prospects. They believe in general that by the irrevocable splitting of Germany, good times are sure to come." One of these big bankers said to a
N e w Y o r k T i m e s correspondent: "We see a silver lining in the sky."
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the German Democratic Republic