Planes ease siege in Berlin
BERLIN, June 26 — The U.S. took to the air today to bring supplies for 2,500,000 Germans in Berlin through the Soviet blockade.
Two B17s landed at Tempelhof Airfield from Frankfurt with vitally needed medicines and still others are scheduled to arrive with foodstuffs to supplement the German diet. In another measure to circumvent the Soviet threat to starve Berlin into submission, the Army drew up plans to ration food and gasoline allotted to Americans.
With only a small amount of food trickling into the city, Gen. Sir Brian H. Robertson, British military governor, asked Marshal Vassily Sokolovsky, Soviet military governor. to "immediately" restore normal traffic to and from this besieged city.
Robertson said in a letter that if the Soviet blockade continued, suffering inflicted on the German population would be the fault of Russia.
No such protest was made by American MG, but Gen. Lucius D. Clay reiterated "our desire to continue trade relations between our zone of occupation and the Soviet Zone and our readiness to meet with you to discuss such arrangements as appear necessary to accomplish this purpose." Clay made this statement in a letter informing the Russians of the new Western German currency law.
Despite the Soviet restriction on freight traffic to and from Berlin, three potato trains arrived from the West today. But this indicated no relaxation of the Soviet ban for they had been in transit through the Soviet Zone when the Russians imposed their blockade, a Western transport official said.
.The official called arrival of the trains a "slip" by the Soviets.
One barge loaded with grain and flour also arrived, five others are expected to get through to Berlin and 20 are approaching the Soviet canal check point.
Robertson, in his letter to Sokolovsky, said he withheld his protest as long as he assumed the Soviet restrictions "were temporary and designed to protect the currency of the Soviet Zone pending the introduction of currency conversion."
The suspension of rail traffic however, he said, was not made on this ground.
Wilhelm Pieck. German Communist leader indicated today that the restrictions will last as long as the Western Allies remain in Berlin.
Pieck who just returned from a tour of southeastern Europe, said that only a Western evacuation could halt Berlin's "unrest."
He said order in Berlin "can only come when the Western Powers decide to leave the city. That is the only way the people can be quieted."
As there has been no unrest in the Western sectors, Pieck's statement was seen as an indication that the Soviet-sponsored Socialist Unity Party might be planning organized unrest.
U. S. Bombers Arrive
The American bombers arrived in the city after Russia ordered the city government not to distribute medicines from stocks in the Soviet Sector to the Western Sectors. Previously Russia had cut off Soviet Sector food power and milk from the rest of the city.
Russia rescinded the medicine ban, however, when Col. Frank L. Howley, Berlin's American commandant, retaliated with a ban on shipments of insulin and penicillin to the Soviet Sector. The U. S. is the only source of Germany's penicillin supply.
The Soviet Sector, meanwhile, began to feel the effects of its own blockade. With no Ruhr coal coming into the city, Russia was forced to cut the production of gas. All gas sent from the Soviet Sector to Babelsberg, where many high Soviet officials live, and other zonal towns was cut off.
Six thousand tons of hard coal a day formerly came to Berlin from the Ruhr. Now the Russians will have to buy hard coal in Poland for their sector.
Doubts Soviet Claim
An American official doubted that Russia could feed — as Sokolovsky said — all of Berlin if the Western Powers left. He said either the Soviet Zone would have to take a 10 per cent ration cut or food would have to shipped into Berlin from Russia — "and this isn't very probable" — to feed all of Berlin.
In addition to today's B17s, others are to arrive with canned milk, powdered milk and foodstuffs to supplement the 30-day stocks now on hand.
As another supplement, the Army today turned over rations to Berliners. Everyone older than six in the Western sectors will receive one can in the next three days. C-rations contain biscuits, sugar or candy, coffee and lemon powder.
The Army's rationing plans were not completed today but they will outlaw pleasure driving and the serving of food at parties, it was learned.