HL Deb 24 June 1953 vol 182 cc1213-5

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, if I may further delay the course of an interesting debate, with the permission of the House, I should like to repeat for your Lordships' information a statement on the disturbances in the Soviet Zone of Germany which has just been made by my right honourable friend the Minister of State in another place. According to my information, the events in Berlin last week were preceded by strikes and demonstrations at many points in the Eastern Zone of Germany against the repressive Communist régime. In Berlin itself a spontaneous protest strike on June 16 developed on the following day into a widespread demonstration against the East German Administration.

When, late on June 17, the authority of the East German Administration had broken down completely, the Soviet occupation authorities moved three divisions of troops into East Berlin, imposed martial law and took firm measures to restore order. Although the Russians appear to have behaved so far with restraint, a number of East Berlin citizens have been killed and wounded. In addition, a West Berlin citizen has been summarily executed, at least seven people died in the Western sectors after being carried in wounded from the Eastern sector, and over a hundred wounded are now in the Western sector. All communications between East and West Berlin were severed, with serious results upon the life and economy of the city. In fulfilment of their duty to protect the interests of the population, a firm protest was made by the three Allied Commandants to the Soviet representative in Berlin on the evening of June 18. Since the week-end, the situation in East Berlin appears to be gradually returning to normal. The Soviet and Allied authorities in Berlin are now in touch regarding the early resumption of communications. The picture of events in the Eastern Zone as a whole is not yet clear.

So far as we are aware, no British subjects have been involved.

Contrary to Soviet allegations, these demonstrations were neither provoked by, nor directed from, the West. In expressing sympathy for those who have suffered, and admiration for their courage, Her Majesty's Government must equally counsel prudence and restraint so that further bloodshed and suffering may be avoided. The Prime Minister has received a personal message from the German Federal Chancellor appealing to Her Majesty's Government to do all in their power to realise the unity and freedom of the German nation. He intends to inform Dr. Adenauer in reply that Her Majesty's Government are in full accord with the spirit of this message. We have frequently made clear that our aim is a Germany reunited in freedom. We believe that the only way to achieve this is on the basis of the practical proposals contained in the note of the three Western Powers to the Soviet Government of September last year, but to which no reply has yet been given. The resolution passed in the Bundestag on June 10 shows that this is the policy of the German Government Coalition and also of the Social Democratic opposition.

Meanwhile, I repeat that Her Majesty's Government are resolved to adhere most faithfully in the spirit as well as in the letter to their commitments to Western Germany, and that Western Germany will in no way be sacrificed or cease to be master of its own fortunes within the agreements we and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries have made with her.

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Marquess for the statement which he has just made, and, on behalf of noble Lords sitting on this side of the House, to join in the expression of admiration for the courage and steadfastness of the workers of the Russian sector of Berlin and of the Eastern Zone; and also to join in the expression of sympathy with those who lost their lives in this very remarkable and spontaneous demonstration of popular devotion to the cause of peace and the unification of Germany. I think it is clear that the Administration in Eastern Germany speaks for nobody but itself, and that but for the introduction of Soviet force in connection with this demonstration that Administration would no longer exist. We also welcome the re-affirmation of Her Majesty's Government's policy with reference to the basis for there unification of Germany, and also the statement that there will be no sacrifice of the present rights to freedom and political independence of Western Germany. There is just one point about which I should like to ask the noble Marquess. I think I am right in saying that on Saturday there is to be a meeting of the High Commissioners in Berlin, and it may be that as a result of their discussions other action or representations may be proposed. May we take it that the noble Marquess will keep the House informed of any further development?


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for what he has said in approval of the attitude that we have adopted. Naturally, if there is any further information which the House should have, it shall be at its disposal at the earliest possible opportunity.

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