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Information bulletin
No. 145 (October 5, 1948)

Soviet order tightens press shackles,   pp. 14-15 PDF (1.3 MB)


Page 14


SOVIET ORDER TIGHTENS PRESS SHACKLES
Makes a Mockery of Assurances That Western-Licensed Newspapers
Would Be Permitted Unrestricted Distribution
in Eastern Zone
THIS IS the story of two men who
live in Eastern Germany. One is a
news dealer. The other is a customer,
a businessman who likes to stop at
the newsstand every morning on his
way to the, office and pick up his
pape-rs.
Back in the 1930's, and until 1945-
when the Nazis were in powelr-there
wasn't much of a choice in ireading
matter at the newsstand;. The papers
had different names, yes, but were
filled with the same words. The same
distortions. The isame propaganda line.
After the war the news'dealer was
given to understand that he could
sell any newspaper, magazine, or
other  publications  his  customers
wanted to buy. He need no longer be
afraid that a Gestapo spy was watch-
ing 'every sale he made at his news-
stand.
In March, 1947, Germany's new
freedom from 'the old " thought con-
trol" was made official. When the
Council of Foreign Ministers met in
Moscow, the Soviets accepted an
American proposal for a free flow of
information, news and ideas through-
out Germany. Accordingly, soon after
the Moscow meeting the four military
governors in Germany issued Allied
Control Authority Directive No. 55.
This directive said very explicitly:
"The exchange of information and
democratic ideas shall not be subject
to any pressure of any sort, ad-
ministrative or economic, on the part
of the central government or land
(state) governments." The Soviet
military commander put his signature
to it. And the n'ewsdealer and his
customer accepted Control Council
Directive No. 55 in good faith.
It was not long, however, before
the newsdeal'er began to wonder if
the signature of a Soviet official on
such a guarantee was anything more
than a name scratched on a piece of
paper. First, hirs consignments of
western-licensed  newspapers  and
periodicals frequently failed 'to arrive
because of "technical difficulties."
Then one day German police pulled
up to his newsstand in a truck and
confiscated all of his copies of Der
Tagesspiegel, a US licensed newspaper
published in Berlin, and of the US
licensed trade union weekly Freiheit.
The police said the publications were
confiscated by the order of the Soviet
commandant.    Other   confiscations
followed soon.
A few weeks later the newsdealer
was ordered to appear at the Soviet
Kommandatura, where he and 19 other
newisdealers were told by the Soviet
major that further distribution of all
newspapers and periodicals published
in the western zones was prohibited.
The businessman, too, began to
experience the same frustration of
the  earlier years. Moist mornings,
when he stopped at the newsstand on
his way to work, he didn't have any
choice. There was only one news-
paper for sale. Of course, it had dif-
ferent names-Taegliche Rundschau,
Neues Deutschland, Tribuene and so
forth. But always the same words.
The same never-ending glorification
of communism. The same frantic
denunciations of the Soviiet Unlion's
wartime allies. The isame propaganda
line-which appiearled to be dictated
by a new Goebbelis.
UT IMPORTANT events were tak.
ing place in western Germany that
the businessman was e'a'ger to know
about-democratic, free elections, ERP
shilpmentis, a successful currency re-
form followed by news of increased
plroduction and industrial recovery in
western Germany. So the businessman
said to himself, if "technical diffi-
culties" are keeping the newspapers
of western Germany off the news-
stands, he would subscribe. So he put
h'is name on the subscription lists of
the papers that gave him the 'truth-
Berliner Kurier, Muenchener Sued-
deutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Neue
Presse.
Then something happened in the
spring of this year which appeared to
settle the question of a free flow of
information and ideas. Accusing the
Soviet Military  Administration  of
throttling  the    distribution  of
American-licensed  publications  in
eastern Germany, US Military Govern-
ment on May 19 prohibited any further
sale of Soviet-licensed publications in
the American Zone until the Soviets
guaranteed that there would be no
such further interference.
At once, the Soviets announced that
it was all a big mistake. They had
certainly not meant to interfere with
the circulation of American-licensed
publications. And in the future, if the
Americans would only lift their pro-
hibition, the Soviets would guarantee
that measures would be taken to
ensure a free and unhampered flow of
publi'cations into the Soviet Zone.
OnJune 1, as a resultof theSoviets
solemn   assurances,  US   MilitarY
Government .suspended its prohibiltiOc
of Soviet-authorized publications in
the US Zone. And on June 9 the
INFORMATION BULLETIN
OCTOBER 5, 1948
This article was adapted from
the US Military Government
broadcast, "SMA Makes a New
Press Impasse," delivered over
RIAS in Berlin and the radio
stations of the US Zone on
Sept. 9.
The impasse was created by
the Soviet Military Administra-
tion's order No. 105, issued
June 9, which imposed strict
control over newspaper distribu-
tion In the Soviet Zone and the
eastern sector of Berlin.
Having received no reply from
the Soviets to a request that or-
der No. 105 be rescinded, US
Military Government on Sept. 24
banned for the second time in
four months the import of Soviet-
authorized newspapers and publi-
cations In the US Zone. The first
ban, Imposed on May 19, was
lifted June 1.
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