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Information bulletin
No. 133 (April 20, 1948)

Anderson, Nels
The food strikes,   pp. [3]-5 PDF (1.7 MB)


Page [3]


1*e
DURING JANUARY and February
of this year more than two
million workers engaged in protest
demonstrations in the American and
British Zones of Germany. Some of
these were citywide stoppages of an
hour, a few hours or a day. Bavaria
had a one-day strike of about 1,000,000
workers, and about the same number
of workers a few days later staged a
24-hour stoppage in the other states
of the American Zone and in the
British Zone.
These stoppages have been called
hunger strikes by some, radical upris-
ings by others, but they have also
been called a form of democratic ex-
pression on the part of German labor.
Almost without exception, these were
orderly demonstrations. If, for example,
a stoppage was scheduled for one
hour, the workers were back on their
jobs an hour later.
Before considering the reasons for
these strikes, and their meaning, it is
important to note that they had not
been called in violation of law. Mili-
tary Government did not prohibit
them. In the western zones of Germany
the right of the workers to strike is
recognized. They-served as a means
of expressing a grievance and, as we
shall note, they served a democratic
purpose.
In these protests, the employers
Were not involved. Blame was not
heaped upon them for the unhappy
Working conditions in many German
enterprises. Little mention was made
of the wages and hours issue, nor the
right to join a union or the right of
unions to bargain collectively. These
rights are established by law in all of
Germany, and the laws are conformed
By Nels Anderson
Expert Consultant, Information Control
Division and Manpower Division
with in the western zones where
unionism is still democratic.
There was no discussion in these
demonstrations about the closed shop
or the collection of union dues by
employers. Also absent in these
stoppages were those issues involving
inter-union struggle.
German trade unions are fully
recognized by the occupying powers
and under German law. They have a
place in the German economy. In the
western zones the trade unions do
have  their differences  with the
employers' associations regarding the
part that organized labor will play in
directing and planning the German
economy, but these issues were not
prominently evident in the food
strikes.
EXCEPT INDIRECTLY, the occu-
pation powers were not involved
in the food strikes, although the KPD
(Communist Party) tried to make it
appear that the United States was to
blame for the winter's food shortage.
As far as the responsible trade union
leaders were concerned, these demon-
strations were aimed at the German
authorities. Departments of German
government responsible for food
supply in the American and British
Zones were charged with a lack of
initiative and diligence in:
.Collecting available food supplies
from German farmers.
2. Apprehending and punishing Ger-
mans who were allegedly traffic-
Koenig Place, Munich, was thronged last winter with Germans who
gathered to hear labor leaders protest against the food rationing
program In Bavaria.                               (Signal Corps photo)
INFORMATION BULLETIN
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