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Information bulletin
(January 1952)

Labor union advisers kept busy,   pp. [31]-32 PDF (1.2 MB)


Page 32


ON BROADER LINES, the questions concerned such
subjects as US Government efforts to relieve the
"miserable" situation of the workers in the East zone of
Germany; whether America "really" wanted another war;
and whether the Negro worker had the same union rights
and earning power that the white man had.
Hundreds of questions of this type from German labor-
ers received frank answers daily from the American labor
officials, who were chosen by fellow union members to
speak on behalf of their organizations.
East residents expressed considerable surprise, the
labor advisers said, when they learned that the American
workman pays a flat rate of only $2.50 monthly to his
labor union while the average East German laborer must
pay the equivalent of one hour's wages each week. They
were impressed with the fact that most local unions in
America set aside half of all money paid as dues to cover
operating expenses, and for use as strike, education, polit-
ical action, war veteran, welfare and entertainment funds.
East workers said they not only were not allowed to
keep any of the dues money but did not dare even to
ask where the money went or for what it was used. One
man said he was thrown out of his position as a minor
union functionary because he asked for an accounting
of these funds.
THE QUESTIONERS WERE also "pleasantly surprised"
when they heard that religion was a union man's own
concern and that particular church affiliations were no
requisite for holding union office.
Many visitors asked how much Communism was to
be found in local labor unions and what was being done
to break it down. They were told that the labor unions
have some Communist members and fellow travelers;
that these members had the same right to be heard as
other union personnel and that no force was ever used
against such persons. "Why would one resort to force
when he has the right of franchise?" the labor advisers
point out to their questioners.
Long discussions were held at the labor information
booth on US and German living standards and on the
buying power of the average worker's wages. Extensive
information was made available on the federal old age
pension plan in the United States, which was paid at the
rate of 11/2 percent by the employee and 1'2 percent by
the employer, and on sick and unemployment benefits,
which were financed partially by the employer and par-
tially by state funds or private insurance companies
through employee payments.
"A number of our visitors have shown surprise at hear-
ing that no penalties are imposed when a worker leaves
one job and goes to another, losing only the seniority
rights accrued on his old job," Mr. Karrer said.
SUMMING UP THE IMPRESSIONS gained from his,
. discussions with East zone and East sector residents,
Mr. Karrer added: "The conditions in the East zone as
portrayed by the questions these people asked -and the
questions they didn't ask -as well as what they told us,
are unbelievably miserable.
"Unless one hears all this for himself, direct from the
persons who live under such conditions day after day,
he cannot get a true picture of the system of present-day
slavery now being practiced in the Soviet Zone." +END
Postwar Educational Reforms Reviewed
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES LEADING to a more demo-
cratic education in the German school system were
disclosed in a recent analysis of postwar German educa-
tion issued by the Education Branch, Office. of Public
Affairs, HICOG.
Entitled "Postwar Changes in German Education," the
book outlined the situation in 1946, and subsequent legis-
lation and changes in more than 100 phases of education
in the US Zone and West Berlin up to July 1951.
The book disclosed that substantial progress has been
made in equalizing educational opportunities for all
children. Tuition fees, a limiting educational factor for
many German young people, have generally been elimi-
nated during the period of compulsory school attendance,
except in Wuerttemberg-Baden, where a recent law pro-
vides for the gradual elimination of tuition in second-
ary schools over a five-year period. In Hesse, free
tuition is also provided in university level institutions.
Textbooks are provided free of cost to students in
all types of schools during the compulsory school period
in Hesse, Bavaria and Bremen, while they are partially
provided in Wuerttemberg-Baden and western Berlin.
There have been some modifications in the rigid
"two-track" school system, in which formerly about
a fourth of the more favored children received a thorough
academic schooling while the other three-fourths were
limited to elementary and vocational education. In Bre-
men and Berlin, the common elementary school period
for all children has been extended from four to six years.
In Hesse and Wuerttemberg-Baden, curricula in the fifth
and sixth years have been coordinated to make it easier
for children to transfer from one type of school to another.
The survey also indicated that all US Zone states and
West Berlin have introduced new school curricula, em-
phasizing social studies, political instruction and citizen-
ship training. All education ministries have fostered the
formation of various forms of student government.
While the study showed that little has been done
officially to relax the centralized control over state school
systems, it disclosed that parent and teacher councils,
with at least advisory functions, were flourishing in all
states, except Bavaria. The survey showed that boards,
institutes or government agencies have been set up in
all states to work continuously on school reform plans.
INFORMATION BULLETIN
32
JANUARY 1952


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