Publication: The Times

Full Citation

  • Title President Of The "German Democratic Republic"
  • Author From Our Own Correspondent
  • Publication Title The Times
  • Collection The Times Digital Archive, 1785-2008
  • Date Wednesday,  Oct. 12, 1949
  • Issue Number 51510
  • Page Number 4
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
PRESIDENT OF THE " GERMAkN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC " UNANIMOUS VOTE FOR HERR PIECK The first President of the " German Democratic Republic " is Herr Pieck, joint chairman of the Socialist Unity Party, who was unanimously elected to that office yesterday by a joint session of the two Houses of the east German Parliament. The new President appealed for the cooperation of western German politicians, but attacked the western German political system and its sponsors, the western Powers. NATIONAL FRONT APPEAL MR. STALIN THANKED From Our Own Correspondent BERLIN, OcT. 11 Contrary to expectations at the weekend, Mr. Semenov, who holds the rank of Ambassador in the Soviet military administration, did not make any detailed statement of Soviet policy towards the new east German regime when the two Houses of the new Parliament held their joint sitting this afternoon. The President I of the Lower House (the Volkskammer), Herr Johannes Dieckmann, merely read two Statements which had already been ! published last night. The first was a letter in which he informed General Chuikov chief of the Soviet military administration, on Saturday of the formation of the Volkskammer.the day before. The second was the statement, made last night by General Chuikov, announcing that the administrative powers of the Soviet military admtnistration are to be handed over to the new Government and that the administration will be replaced by a control commission. The two Houses unanimously adopted a law bringing this transfer into effect. In the circumstances interest in the joint session shifted to the election of the President of the " German Democratic Republic." For this there was only one nomination, the expected one of Herr Wilhelm Pieck, an old and trusted Communist, who is joint chairman of the Socialist Unity Party. The whole proceedings went with mechanical precision, and the longest single item in the somewhat colourless session was Herr Pieck's speech after he had taken the oath of office. OATH OF OFFICE The session was attended by General Chuikov, Mr. Semenov, other Soviet officials, and representatives of the military missions here of the eastern Europe States with whom, under Soviet guidance, the new Republic will cooperate in its foreign and economic policies. The election of Herr Pieck occupied only a few minutes. He was nominated by Herr Otto Nuschke (Christian Democrat), who is expected to be one of the deputy Prime Ministers in the Government whose composition Herr Grotewohl, the Prime Minister, will announce to-morrow. The delegates of the two Houses stood and loudly applauded the nomination, and, after Herr Nuschke had spoken in praise of Herr Pieck, the vote was taken. There was no movement among the delegates when Herr Dieckmann called for votes against Herr Pieck and for abstentions. When he called for votes in favour all hands were raised and the delegates, still standing, again applauded. After a short eulogy from Herr Dieckmann, who called Herr Pieck the " senior political activist of the new German Democratic Republic," the new President went on to the platform and stood before the microphone to take the oath as prescribed in the constitution originally drawn up by the " People's Congress " and adopted by the Volkskammer last Friday. Herr Pieck, in his speech after he had taken office, claimed that the new Government had the right to speak for the whole of Germany. I-le appealed for the cooperation of thIe westerni German politicians but in terms that had little but propagandist value, for he attacked both the western German political system and the western Powers who have sponsored it. ' I appeal," he said, ' to the men and women of the west German Bundestag and the western Federal Government to realize the dangers in which thc German people finds itself in face of the policy of the western Powers. These dangers can be averted if the weCt German Bundestag and the Federal Government do not further support these measures of the western Powers. It is not a question whether the two Governments accord each other mutual recognition but a question of wvhether. jointly or side by side, they servc the national interest of the German people and wage the struggle for the unity and national independence of t,he Cerman people." The new President added: " If the Bundestag and the federal Government do that. we will draw nearer each other, finally remove the division [of Germany]. and create unitt, so that Germany will not be made.a colony and deploying ground for a new imperialist war." FAMILIAR ACCUSATIONS Herr Pieck made the familiar accusations against the western Powers-that they had broken the Potsdam agreements, had created at Bonn a " puppet Government " to the danger of German national existence and had refused to conclude a peace treaty with Germany. In all this the Soviet Government found justitfication, not only for the creation of the new Government. but for handing over to it the administrative functions of the Soviet military administration. '" Tha, is an act of farsighted and gencrouts statesmanship by the Government of the Soviet Union, tinder the leadership of its wise Prime Minister Stalin. By it the German Governnient is given the chance of unrestricted work in the service of the German people and of giving the people full sovereignty. There are not enough words for the thanks we owe the Soviet Union and Stalin for this generous action." Immediately after his speech Herr Pieck left the Parliament hall in the building of the German Economic Commission of the eastern zone and drove in an open car to a demonstration in the Unter den Linden near by. In the courtyard outside he inspected a guard of honour of the blue-uniformed " people's police." The guard was armed with rifles. Its commanding officer greeted the new President with military smartness and mad, a short speech congratulating him on his election. There were tew spectators outside the building. Most of them were of-the Free German Youth, the Communist youth organization. They wore blue uniform shirts ane. carried banners, and addeti to the impressior, already produced by the Parliamentary session that one was in the presence of a new German totalitarianism. From the speakers' platform Herr Pieck watched a torchlight procession of anembers of the " Free German Youth "movetnent, the p people's police," and the " mass organizations " of the eastern zone and sector. The demonstrators carried flags and huge pictlres of Mr. Stalin, Herr Pieck, Herr Grotewohl, the new Prime Minister, and Herr iUlbricht one of his deputies. The march-past took about an hour. Afterwards Herr Pieck welcomed the " people's police," who, he said, must represent the interests of the workers and root out-the enemies of the people. To the i Free German Youth " he said that youth stood at the helm of the working masses, and was the " guarantee of the great tasks of the young Republic "-a statement that is no exaggerafion in view of the pressure to draw the young people of eastern Germany towards Communism. HERR PIECK'S CAREER The new President, the son of working-class pare4ts, is 73 years of age. After an apprenticeship as a carpenter, he became an official of the Social Democratic Party, alway-; tending towards the left wing of the party and so coming into association as early as 1910 with Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht. When the Communist Party was founded he took over the leadership of the Berlin organization, and was a member of the Prussian Landtag, and later of the Reichstag. Herr Pieck went to Russia after Hitler's accession to power in 1933. During the war he was associated with General von Seydlitz and Field-Marshal von Paulus in thZ formation of the " Free Germany committee," the Soviet-sponsored anti-Nazi organization working among German prisoners of war. Besides this, he directed illegal Communist work in Germany from Moscow. When the " Free Germany commitiee " was dissolved in the autumn of 1945, Herr Pieck returned to Berlin to take over the Ccmmunist Party. He took a prominent part in the amalgamation of the Communist and Social Democratic parties of the eastern zone in tne spring of 1946, becoming one of the two .hairmen of the new party, the Socialist Uni:y Party. which dominates the new regime g s it has dominated the political life of the eas;ern zone in the Russian and Communist interest. - * The text of the British repl" to the Russian protest at the formation of the west German State is on page 3.