Wed, 04/01/2009 - 08:29

West Berlin is not and Never Has Been Part of West Germany*

During the war, on 12 September 1944, the European Advisory Commission, comprising delegates from the USSR, the United States and the United Kingdom, reached an agreement (to which France later acceded) specifying that, after the war Germany was to be divided into four occupation zones. This agreement stipulated that Berlin would be under joint occupation, without separating it into a fifth zone.

A special body, the Allied Control Council, was established for the joint government and control of the four occupation zones in Germany. The choice of Berlin as the seat of supreme control with authority over the four countries, necessitated the establishment of the four-power system of government of Berlin.

Of course, this did not mean that Berlin turned into a separate fifth occupation zone. Berlin always remained a constituent part of the Soviet occupation zone existing at the time. The fact that the whole of Berlin, West Berlin included, was part of the occupation zone, also proved that, even after Berlin was divided into four sectors, the city's entire railway network, its waterways and flight zones overhead, remained under Soviet control.

The claim by Western powers that Thuringia, Saxony and Mecklenburg had the right to Allied control powers over West Berlin as compensation after the war, is naïve and untrue (this is the argument put forward in the US Department of State Memorandum of 20 December 1958). It is true that, during the military operations for the defeat of Nazi Germany, Western powers had taken parts of Thuringia, Saxony and Mecklenburg.

However, in the agreement signed by the Great Powers back in 1944 to define the borders of the different zones of occupation, the aforementioned zones were included in the Soviet occupation zone. Therefore, in this agreement, the Western powers undertook to withdraw their troops into their occupation zones after the end of the war, which is what they did.

However, they soon took the path of disrupting the Potsdam Agreement, which concerned Germany as well as Berlin. The particularly important conclusions of the Potsdam Agreement regarding democratisation and denazification were not put into effect in the Western sectors of Berlin and the Western zones of occupation. In 1947 the Western commandants vetoed the acts of the Berlin City Assembly providing for the passing of commercial enterprises into public ownership and the confiscation of the property of war and fascist criminals. These democratic transformations did not find any realisation whatsoever in West Berlin.

Despite the existence of the four-partite status of Berlin and the assumed obligation that "only decisions unanimously taken by members of the Four Great Powers are valid," the Western powers began unilateral actions which undermined the four-partite policy in Berlin. Thus, as early as the end of 1945, separative economic bodies whose activities were at variance with the decisions of the Greater Berlin Magistrate were established in West Berlin. The Western sectors introduced their own judicature and created their own police forces.

The final blow to the unity of Berlin, as well as to the unity of Germany, was dealt by the Allies when they implemented the separative currency reform of 1948. Despite the initial written declarations by the heads of the three Western states that the reform would not involve Greater Berlin, the D-Mark was introduced in West Berlin too. After the economic severance of Berlin, the Western states shaped its political rift as well. In December 1948 separate elections were held in West Berlin and the City Council of West Berlin was formed. In May 1949 the Western powers established their own separate kommandatura and announced it under the name of "Little Occupation Statute." This is how the joint rule of Berlin was destroyed.

In this way the four-partite joint rule status of Berlin established in 1945 was done away with by the Western powers and in its place they created a new, tripartite statute for West Berlin. The separatist occupation statute of the three powers was not, however, a legal statute that could be of any international validity.

Firstly, because it was established by violating the Potsdam Agreement and without the sanction of the USSR. Secondly, because the German people were not asked about its establishment, either. This statute was not the product of any arrangement with the German side. Thirdly, the time of the occupation statute is long past. It can't go on indefinitely. The three Western powers' occupation statute of West Berlin is, in fact, up in the air. With it, the Western powers aimed to give militarism the opportunity to use West Berlin as a frontline city.

Certain West German circles have challenged the fact that West Berlin territorially belongs to the Soviet occupation zone (hence to the present German Democratic Republic), on the grounds mainly of Article 23 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, where Greater Berlin is listed as one of the 12 länder, or states, of the FRG.

However, this article in the constitution of the FRG was not recognised even by the Western powers. The Western powers declared in a letter of 8 April 1949 from their foreign ministers to the military governors: "The Foreign Ministers are not able to agree to this time that Berlin should be included as a Land in the initial organisation of the FRG." In an official letter of 21 May 1949 the Western Powers approved the Bonn Constitution with the following specific reservation: "… Berlin shall not be accorded voting membership of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat and shall not be governed by the Federation."

When the Paris Agreement was concluded in 1954, the Western powers excluded West Berlin from its scope, thus again explicitly confirming that West Berlin was not part of the FRG.

All these facts made West German Professor Dr Maunz reach the following unambiguous conclusion in his university textbook on German state law: "It is a fact that neither Greater Berlin nor West Berlin are currently a territory of the FRG."

At the Geneva conference of the foreign ministers in May 1959, the French foreign minister, Couve de Murville, declared, naturally with the consent of the US and British foreign ministers: "The West Berlin government has no direct relation with the Federal Republic government. The West Berlin territory is not part of the Federal Republic territory."

That West Berlin is not part of the FRG is practically admitted by the government and the government acts of the FRG too. Thus, when the Bundeswehr, or Federal Defence Force, was instituted, West Berlin was exempt from military service. The Bonn government does not have the right to place any of its troops in West Berlin. West Berlin MPs in the Bundestag do not have the right to vote. The laws made in the FRG do not automatically apply in West Berlin; they have to be approved by the West Berlin Parliament or the other authorities to come into force.

It is evident from the abovementioned facts that all of Berlin was part of the territory of the Soviet occupation zone in Germany.

Since the Soviet Union terminated the occupation regime in the GDR (in October 1949), Greater Berlin, including West Berlin, has been part of the territory of the GDR. And if, after all, the GDR government agrees to West Berlin turning into a neutral, free city until the unification of Germany, instead of being annexed by the GDR, it does so only in the interest of preserving peace.

*This article was originally published in a Bulgarian newspaper in the early 1960s. It has been translated verbatim, with no comment or additional explanation

Issue 31

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