From the Stars and Stripes archives

Reuther calls East workers anti-Russian key

Walter Reuther, during a visit with relatives in the Stuttgart, Germany, area in 1953. He was accompanied by his wife, daughter and brother, Victor. (front left).


By OMER ANDERSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 20, 1953

BONN, July 19 (S&S) — Walter Reuther, president of the CIO, declared that the workers behind the Iron Curtain offered the main real hope for a powerful resistance movement against Soviet rule.

Reuther said that only the workers in Eastern Germany and the Soviet satellites had the experience with a cohesive mass movement such as a labor organization to spearhead relentless opposition to Russia.

"The West has not adequately appreciated the strategic role the workers have been playing in resistance to Soviet tyranny behind the Iron Curtain.

"Free labor is the most effective force our side has in the fight against communism," Reuther asserted.

Reuther addressed a press conference here shortly after arriving in Germany from the International Congress of the World Free Trade Union Confederation in Stockholm.

The World Free Trade Union Confederation represents 54,000,000 members organized in 57 affiliates.

Worth 10 Divisions

Reuther said that full employment in West Berlin would be worth "10 military divisions and a dollar spent in reducing West Berlin's unemployment will buy more strength for the West than $10 spent on military preparations."

Full employment can only be accomplished, he continued, by removing the refugees to West Germany, undertaking public construction projects to reduce the jobless and pressing ahead with long-term capital investments to provide jobs.

Reuther contended that it was imperative for the U.S. to open its shores for German refugees.

Reuther predicted that when the Soviets discover "that it costs more to continue a military occupation in these countries than they are getting from milking the economies of these nations, then perhaps they will be willing to sit down at to conference table."

Reuther said the East German uprisings had provided the West with "an important springboard for a psychological offensive against communism."

He called on the West to "fight communism by fighting hunger and poverty — by giving the people higher living standards, better housing, improved medical care."

Assails Methods

Reuther said he was opposed to nationalization of industry in the free-enterprise economy of the U.S. but Europe's economy, he added, "is neither free nor does it show enterprise."

Reuther assailed German industrialists for pressing a policy of production and high prices, which, he said, results in a German worker receiving a quarter of an American worker's wage.

Walter Reuther and his daughter, Linda, in Germany in 1953.

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