Full Citation

  • Title Russians Cut off Power to Berlin's West Zones
  • Author Higgins, Marguerite From the Herald Tribune Bureau
  • Publication Title New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Friday,  June 25, 1948
  • Issue Number 20344
  • Page Number [1]
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
Russians Cut Off Power To Berlin’s West Zones Population Fears Slow Starvation Halt of Food,Coal Trains From the West Bring Biggest Post-War Crisis By Marguerite Higgins From the Herald Tribune Bureau BERLIN,, June 24.—Soviet eco¬ nomic warfare against the Western Allies and the German population of Berlin reached an unprecedented severity today, precipitating Eu¬ rope's greatest post-war crisis. Russian power cuts plunged much of western Berlin into darkness foi hours, a continued Soviet blockade left the German papulation cut off from food and coal supplies and Russian orders even stopped deliv¬ eries of fresh milk, endangering the health of German babies. And with only two to four weeks' food and coal reserves for the west¬ ern sectors, the big question in the minds of the thoroughly alarm ed population was whether the Russians would really carry through the threat of starvation implicit in their indefinite halt of food and coal trains from the west Starvation As Weapon Actual starvation of the popula¬ tion of western Berlin is prob¬ ably the only weapon that might bring success to the Russian drivo to oust the Western Allies from Ber¬ lin, according to well-informed quarters. The potentially explosive Berlin situation developed quickly tonight. During the evening 100 British and Russian troops, in full battle-dress, took up positions facing each other at a border point of their respective occupation sectors. The quarrel resulted from a Soviet attempt to seise the goods of a scrap merchant of the British sector whose yard is located near the Soviet sector. When German police got cold feet, British troops were sent along to give them moral support. In all four sectors of the city Ger¬ man police were alerted. Throughout the day, American armored cars patrolled the streets of the American-occupied sector. The Germans found them a reassur¬ ing sight. ‘Never Become Communist’ German non-Communist political leaders, who have shown remarkable courage in face of Soviet threats- of kidnaping and' arrest, staged a high¬ ly successful rally in the French sec¬ tor with the theme “Berlin will never become Communist.” Fifty thousand people jamming the athletic field on which the meeting was held sent an "emer¬ gency call to the world to nelt Ber¬ lin In its fight for independence.” This afternoon the British, in retaliation for the Soviet blockade of Berlin, cut off all coal and steel deliveries to the Soviet Zone as .well as all other goods shipments. Whether the Soviets need Ruhr coal enough to lift their blockade re¬ mains at this point doubtful. The excuse for the latest ohase of the Soviet campaign against the Western Allies w$s the announce¬ ment that the west c’.eutschmark would be introduced in the city The American-sponsored currency will rival the new Russian-stamped mark in the east sector. The Rus¬ sian mark is also in force tne Soviet Zone. Russian Argument The Russians argue that Berlin must be absorbed in their zone be¬ cause the Western Allies by setting up a western German state have lost all right to remain in this four- power city. The Western Allies will penult the use of the east mark in their sector in payment of all rationed goods, rents, etc., at the basis of one to one which in effect makes the east mark valid currency for all Berlin This evening Marshal Sokolovsky formally broke off, for the present at least, the four-power Allied gov¬ ernment of Berlin as constituted in the Kommandantura. He said that ‘‘factually the Allied Kom¬ mandantura has ceased to exist as the organ of the. city ..administra¬ tion.” ... The status of the city as a result (Continued on Page 2, Col. 3) Russians (Continued from Page 1) of Russia’s economic warfare was this; Housewives during the day mob¬ bed food stores and stood in long queues They were trying to stock up in ' defense against the Soviet ban on food and coal deliveries to the western sectors. For long hours during the day and again this evening German homes were without light as the lesult of Soviet shut-off of powei from their zone. Americans drew up an electrical rationing system but for those without priority lights will be on only for a few hours a day. The American sector had enough power plants to take care of about 50 per cent of its needs—for a* long as coal supplies hold out. The Soviets halted delivery of their quota of 43,000 liters of milk for the city without notification. But Colonel Frank Howley, Ameri¬ can commandant, who had had an argument with the Russians once before about milk, fortunately had on hand a f airly large supply of con¬ densed ahd powdered milk. He offered to lend some to the other Western Allies. ‘If we had not happened to have these supplies on hand,” Colonel Howley said, “there would have been dead babies in this city in a few days.” The Americans retaliated to the milk order by failing to deliver their quota of white flour to the Soviet sector. Earlier in the c'ay the Russians refused to deliver their bread quotas to the west, so Colonel Howley ordered the meat which is supplied by the west to be held up. This time the Russians came around.