Page 5

1959_02_28--077_SP The Squeeze is on Berlin

February 28, 1959 77 line to get across is not that between the two Berlins, but that between the eastern zone and East Berlin. Actually, a good deal of bootleg labor drifts back and forth from city to city each day—living in East Berlin, where housing is cheap, and working in West Berlin, where wages are high and the West Mark buys four times as much. Many an entertainer or lady of the eve ning keeps two wardrobes, a chic one in West Berlin for plying her trade with the fat and prosperous businessmen from West Germany, and a nice shabby “People's Production" costume for go ing home to East Berlin. Western mer chandise is hard to smuggle into East Berlin, where conspicuous consumption is not admired, but with the East Mark artificially pegged at parity with the West Mark, merchandise going the other way can work up a handy little profit. A black marketeer, for example, who buys a camera or typewriter in East Berlin for 200 East Marks can sell it in West Berlin for 100 West Marks, and then trade his 100 West Marks for 400 East Marks, thus doubling his money. This, then, is the “anomaly of two Berlins which Mr. Khrushchev, with one pudgy finger on his latest Five-Year Plan and one pudgy finger on the map, wants to bring to an end—not by freeing East Berlin to join her democratic and pros perous sister city, but by enslaving both. No one pretends that the present situa tion is a healthy one; no one thinks it can go on eternally. Yet, for the West Ber liner, it is so much better than anything else in sight that the very thought of changing it gives him the shudders. To him, the symbolic presence in West Ber lin of 8000 Allied troops is his only pro tection against twenty armed Russian divisions waiting out in the darkness of East Germany to roll in and “neutralize the city. But before leaving Berlin 1 must pay a sentimental visit to what used to be technically, still is—the American sector. And so one evening I drive out to the quiet, middle-class district of Dahlem to look up an old friend named Walther Lucke. When my husband and I lived in Berlin, at the end of the war, Lucke worked for us as janitor-chauffeur-de livery boy. And perhaps because of his brash resourcefulness, his Icke-Dicke Berlin accent, and what he himself called his Schieberei—his cheerful ability to shoot an angle—we came to regard him as the most typical Berliner of them all. I find Lucke living with his wife and son, Ekkehard. in a standard West Berlin housing development in two warm, clut tered rooms. Like most Berliners, he is far from panic, but he is worried. He is worried about hearing an Amer ican statesman, from the safety of Wash ington, say that he is ready to "d e a r with the East Germans as agents of Mos cow. For to Lucke, this is like Jonah offering to deal with the whale, a prelude to being swallowed alive. And he is wor ried about the assumption that to save West Berlin the Allies have only to “do it again"—mount another airlift, as they did during the blockade of 1948-49. “But the Berliners survived the block ade all right, Lucke,” I remind him. “ Listen, Miss Howard,” he says earn estly. “In 1948 we had nothing, no houses, no heat, no food. My wife stood four hours in line for a handful of rice, a packet of those powdered eggs. My Ekkehard stayed all day indoors because he had no warm clothes. And I worked like a dog for cigarettes, which I could trade against a pailful of coal, maybe, or a little butter. Now----- ” He gestures to the radio, the television set, the beer and sandwiches on the table. “Now I earn four hundred West Marks SI00 a month in real money. I have a little car. We have a warm place to live. Ekkehard goes to school, collects stamps, plays football, like a normal boy does. It is not Luxus, Miss Howard, but it is something to lose. In 1948, things could not be worse, so we could go without the things we didn't have. Now the Russkis are more serious, and so are we.” Anxiety darkens his face. But being a Berliner, he suddenly grins at me and, to make his point, holds up a lighted cigarette. “Now we smoke them!” he says proudly. And Lucke is right. There will not be another airlift. Not because of the Soviets’ new radar-jamming devices ring ing our three West Berlin airfields, as some reports have pointed out, but be cause ten years have passed. In 1948, West Berlin was little more than a billion cubic feet of smashed and tangled building material. The people were living in unlighted caves dug out of the rubble, or in truncated bits of apart ments hanging over a void. To keep warm they gathered in what they called Warme- hallen, huddled around a single coal stove in a community warming center. Even if they had electric fixtures and wiring, they had current only two hours a day. Under strict rationing of 1780 calories daily, the population of West Berlin could be kept alive with 1500 tons of food a day and 2000 tons of coal. Then, having no autos or trucks, they needed no gasoline or oil. Having almost no industry—working at only 19 per cent of 1936—they needed no raw ma terials. They were used to doing without, and did. Today, with industry booming at 125 per cent of 1936, with the city building almost 2000 housing units a month, and trucks and autos everywhere, West Berlin is each day consuming 3500 tons of foodstuff, 16,000 tons of coal— eight times the 1948 figure—and 20,000 tons of raw materials. No airlift can carry that, and no airlift should try. Economi cally, politically and psychologically the problem of West Berlin has grown too big for gimmick solutions. Later, walking along the quiet, curv ing, snow-covered streets of the Amer ican sector, I find myself remembering the old days with something like home sickness. Here is the big, beautifully landscaped Military Government Head quarters where Gen. Lucius D. Clay used to hold his dramatic press conferences in what we called “the goldfish bowl.” Thousands of American officers and civilians had their offices in these build ings then; now there are fewer than 300, the buildings seem secretive and with drawn, and only four or five offices are lighted. Here is Truman Hall, where we slammed our trays along the cafeteria line and complained about Army food. Here is Uncle Tom's Cabin, where we used to come out trundling PX supplies of food and liquor and cigarettes, hounded and jumped on by frantic German kids screaming for “Schokolade! Zu essen /” It is now a neighborhood shopping cen ter, with neat little German grocery stores, beauty parlors and bakeries, and well-dressed German women are shop ping there for the evening meal. Here is the little park we used to walk through on our way to and from the Press Center, and never could sit down in because the Berliners had swiped all the park benches to chop up and burn in their stoves to keep warm. There are new wooden benches all along the path now and, in spite of the cold, several couples murmuring in each other's arms. Here is the Press Club itself, formerly the sub urban residence of Nazi Finance Minister Walther Funk, but requisitioned by the United States Army for our bar and mess. Then it was the social center of our lives, where we could eat and drink and brawl and argue, sometimes until dawn. Now it is boarded up and dark, and the garden where we used to park our jeeps is empty; no tire track mars the expanse of snow. Strangely it seems much smaller than 1 had remembered it. Here is the house we lived in, in the Limastrasse, and I stand a long time, looking. Through the big windows I can see its German owners sitting dow n com fortably at the dining-room table. When we lived here in the old days, our dinner guests were American, British, French, German and Russian, particularly Rus sian editors or journalists, and the dis cussion of what to do about defeated Berlin and Germany could go on far into the night. But that was a long time ago. That was before the Russian coup in Prague; that was before the blockade of Berlin. That was before the revolution in Hungary and the execution of Imre Nagy and his betrayed freedom fighters. That was when we were young and enthusiastic and thought we had won a war for free dom and justice. t h e e n d than $5,000 buys this home furniture and appliances included ^ > NASHUA MOBILEHOME Refrigerator, range, heater, dinette set. living room furniture and beds . . . everything you nertl for comfortable, convenient mobilehome living is included. And, throughout this luxuri ous new Nashua, you’ll find brand names you know and trust. Exterior is all-aluminum, the quality metal for mobilehomes. Interior is rich, lustrous birch. Yet the suggested retail price of an all new 50-foot by 10-foot Nashua, f.o.b. fac tory, is less than $5,000. Other models start at only $2,398, f.o.b. factory, and Nashua has six factories, each in a different part of the U. S. to keep delivery charges low wherever you live. Servicemen, budget-minded newlyweds, persons whose jobs require moving from time to time, retired couples . . . hundreds of thousands find mobilehome life ideal for them. See a Nashua yourself and see why so many Americans find mobilehome living perfect for them. FREE BROCHURE LET US SEND YOU * COLORFUL. 12-PAGE BROCHURE DESCRIBING THE ENTIRE NASHUA LINE. ALSO NAME OF WAY YOU WANT IT. r THE NASHUA DEALER NEAREST YOU WHO WILL BE HAPPY TO QUOTE YOU THE DELIVERED PRICE OF A NASHUA EQUIPPED THE NASHUA MANUFACTURING COMPANY 610 E. 76 St. North Kansas City. Mo. 6 Factories to Save You Freight Please send brochure on NASHUA Mobilehomes Naim___ __________________________ _ Street_______ __________________ _________ C ity--------------------------------------------- -- -------------State


1959_02_28--077_SP The Squeeze is on Berlin
To see the actual publication please follow the link above