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Information bulletin
No. 133 (April 20, 1948)

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

Page 4

ing in food on the German black
3. Failing to equitably distribute the
food stocks on hand.
The strikes brought into the open
the age-old clash of interests between
rural producers and urban consumers
of food. The industrial part of the
population, the "non-self-suppliers,"
were convinced that the farmers were
not delivering their required quotas,
that too much German-produced food
was entering illegal channels out of
reach of the industrial workers who
have nothing to trade in the black
And while it must be recognized
that German farmers also have their
troubles, the fact remains that they
were being blamed, and this attitude
of blame was being agitated into
unrest by KPD members. There was
also evidence that the German officials
were hesitant about taking firm action
relative to the control of German-
produced food.
The trade unions demanded more
firmness. If the existing laws did not
permit effective food control, they
demanded that new laws be enacted.
They called for a public program of
searching for hidden stocks of food.
Perhaps the German public officials
needed such demonstrations to goad
them into action, possibly as justi-
fication for action in the emergency.
Whereas the rural-urban rivalry
came. into the open on the economic
issue, the strikes also had a rural-
urban political importance. It was to
be expected that old political rivalries
would come to the fore in mass
demonstrations involving so many
people. However, it is not necessary
here to review the rural-urban politi-
cal implications of the strikes, because
other political implications were
present in a more urgent sense.
Moreover, the political urgency of
the strikes was less concerned with
the issues of government than with
the challenging problem of union
control. Most German union leaders
in the American and British Zones
are defenders of democratic unionism.
Many of the leaders in the western
zones, because of their democratic
convictions, spent years in the Nazi
Gustav Schiefer, vice-president of the Bavarian Trade Unions Asso-
ciation, is surrounded by his backers after a speech in Munich last
January in which he criticized food rationing and black market
activities in Bavaria.                             (Signal Corps photo)
concentration camps. But there is a
Communist minority that is active in
a militant effort to control the German
trade unions. This tribe of comrades
has no interest in democratic unionism
except as a means of gaining power.
The food strikes, which could not
be postponed, were a show-down be-
tween the democratic union leaders
and the Communists for control of the
unions. The democratic leaders came
out stronger, and they were able to
balk the now well-known sabotage
plans of the Communist functionaries.
The Communists suffered defeat, but
their drive for political power in the
ranks of labor goes on.
W      HEN THE half-million workers
of Wuerttemberg - Baden left
their jobs for the day on February 3,
the union's strike order exempted
workers in hospitals, gas, water, and
electric power plants "and all enter-
prises in whichwork stoppages would
lead to the loss of food." The order
"Even though all astute and clear-
thinking persons know that work
stoppages or strikes do not create or
make available even one additional
gram of fat, one pound of potatoes,
one slice of bread, or one piece of
meat, this protest action has never-
theless been agreed upon. Therefore,
there must still be other reasons
for it."
There were, of course, the stated
reasons, to force a thorough collection
and an equitable distribution of food.
There was also the unstated reasoni
to save the morale of the workers
and frustrate Communist agitation.
Unrest was increasing. An organized
disciplined demonstrationwas decided
upon. Otherwise the unrest might,
have broken out in many minor, un-
authorized demonstrations.
It is impossible to know how mudi
of a food supply increase the average
German striker hoped to realize b
the protest. Judging from the placin
of emphasis, it is apparent that th
urgent concernwas about the fairnes
of distribution. Workers unable t:
trade in the black market wer
embittered by the knowledge the
Germans having goods to trade we
eating better than they.
The "Pantry Law" which resulte
from the strikes and which is be
put into force, will doubtless bri
out some food that had been hoard
or is being traded in the black mark
Only in a few minor demonstratio
were the strikers actually led by t
APRIL 20, iN

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