Sir Freddie






Q: How were meetings at the ACC conducted? I think you attended one or two.

A: The Allied Control Council. Well, they were not really conducted I guess so much as they were staged. The the Allied Control Authority building was an impressive one, if you could say that of the bombed out buildings of Berlin of 1945. They were very formal in nature. An agenda would be presented, run around between the allied powers. Comments would be made, usually in writing. The writings would then be read at the table. There was no camaraderie, no give and take of an ad lib or a spontaneous nature. The meetings would be called to order, the papers read and the thing would be dismissed. The whole thing may take an hour and may happen once a month. They were not controlled - in control of anything really. cut

CR 10020


Q: Just before we go on to talking about RIAS, what kind of espionage activity were the Soviets up to in Berlin?

A: From the outset as G2 I had no co-operation from the Soviet. For example with the British, we had the same relationship we had had throughout the war. A free exchange of all pertinent information. For example, I knew what parties were rising in the British sector or in the French sector. I had no idea of what meetings were being held, who was evolving or what was evolving in the Soviet sector. I offered to exchange my weekly reports with the Soviet, as I did with the British. They would near hear to that. There was no liaison, although I tried to establish a physical liaison - I had six Russian speaking officers, they were totally useless for any other purpose except to speak Russian and they were there for that purpose. They were unable to establish any kind of liaison at all. The first indication we had of overt attempts at penetration of our installations occurred in August of 1945 within six weeks of our being in Berlin. That is we found Germans who were in the pay of the NKVD, the then Soviet intelligence organisation and the Germans were the first to tell us that they were and then to prove that they were. We found attempts to tap the wire of Eisenhower's headquarters in Bodensee. There was a monitoring unit in our sector observing the comings and goings at Eisenhower's headquarters. The British discovered one in their sector. And then finally we broke a real, genuine espionage ring in the Office of Military Government U.S., which had become a rather large bureaucratic structure and it was responsible for maintaining records and documents pertaining to the production of goods and services in the west. How much coal, how much oil, how much of fundamental things such as food, water supply, so forth. All of these things were being transmitted to the Russians, surreptitiously. We would have been glad to exchange the data with them, but they preferred to get it their own way and they did it by using agents, many of them former Gestapo, or German military intelligence, whom they had located and hired and domiciled in the Soviet sector of the city. They then had control over the family of those employees of OMGUS who lived there and could exercise fear tactics to maintain control. We broke that ring and I think that that was very instrumental in changing General Clay's attitude. He thought this was not quite cricket and couldn't believe it at first, but then was convinced.

Q: We come now to the time when you joined RIAS. Tell me about RIAS, what was RIAS?

A: In 1936 we had the first elections in Berlin. The Soviet had captured Radio Berlin intact. It was located at studios and speech input equipments all in the British sector and quite intact, in perfect condition. The transmitters and antennas of Berliner Rundfunk were located in what was then the French sector. But the Soviet allowed no one - not British, not American, no one, into Radio Berlin through their control points. Only their own people, and their German sidetraps. When the elections were scheduled in the fall of 1930 - 1946, the free parties, other than the Communist Party, had nowhere to turn for radio. It was not as serious as you might think because there were also not many radio receivers available. Radio Berlin continued with the same personnel that had been there under there under the Nazis and now just changed the colours of their shirts and were working for the Russians. The Communists had free access. The Americans, in attempt to change this, established what they called a Dratfunk or a wired radio in order that people might - that the political parties might have some outlet. It was not very satisfactory because number one the wires had been largely removed by bombs. The apparatus that was necessary to receive the wired radio was destroyed, stolen, gone, and RIAS, or Radio In American Sector, was not very effective. It was only on the air two hours a day. By the time the Soviet had thrown the free parties out of the eastern sector and the city was well on its way to division, it was decided to rehabilitate and old mobile sender, or transmitter, called Gustav. It had been in Austria and Gustav was towed to Berlin, put on the air with 25 hundred watts output on the antenna and with a flat top antenna. But it was a radio and it was on the air a couple of hours a day and people began to hear it. Not many people. The American Information Services Control made a fundamental error by hiring personnel in America and England who were former Germans. They were hired because they were former Germans and spoke the language. They knew absolutely nothing about radio. They knew nothing about propaganda. They knew nothing about how to influence public opinion. They were not advertising people. They were not scholars. The result was RIAS limped along and it was just a copy of Radio Berlin in its attitudes. The personnel were people who are former Communists, they certainly were anti-Nazis, but that's about all that could be said for them. By the time I was tapped for RIAS, General Clay had become quite disgusted with the constant unremitting daily attacks on everything American, everything western. Our system of government was held up to ridicule. Our President was ridiculed. The American military was ridiculed, daily in Radio Berlin. A constant, constant hammering at how - what terrible people the Americans were. And of course, what terrible people the British were because they were responsible for the Americans after all, weren't they? The upshot of it was, General Howley and General Clay, decided to counter this with something they called Operation Backtalk, and I was offered the opportunity of spearheading it because I had spent ten years in the radio business and knew a little bit about it, and certainly knew a little bit about how to influence public opinion, via radio, or to sell a bar of soap via radio. The bar of soap in this case might be the American Bill of Rights. Anyhow, I took over Radio RIAS, which was on the air two hours a day, 25 hundred watts. I immediately put it on the air twelve hours a day. My German staff assured me it could not be done, I assured them that it would be done or we would have a new staff tomorrow morning. With this kind of attitude it was surprising how soon I attracted amazingly confident personnel. There was available in Berlin a pool of talent that had never been able to express itself unthe Nazis. Actors, producers, writers.Very peop. Now another thi

Q: What kind of reaction did this have on your audience, particularly those living in the Soviet Zone, of putting on things like 'Animal Farm'?

A: By 1948 people in the Soviet Zone were beginning to get radios. It was to the Soviet's advantage for people to get radio sets that were being manufactured, either in West Germany or in Czechoslovakia, and they were distributed widely, cheap little sets but they were able to get a limited spectrum of broadcast stations. And if the Soviets wanted to take advantage of their own Radio Berlin, they had to provide receivers. This worked to our advantage too. We suggested at one point, indeed it was proposed by one American government agency that we manufacture very cheap radios and just give them away to people so they would listen to our stations. We never did that but it was proposed.

Q: What advantage do you think that the Soviets had in mind, what propaganda ploy were they trying to sell to the German public?

A They were trying to sell the fact that the Western Allies were totally ineffectual, that their whole future lay with the Soviet Union and an Eastern orientation. This they did not - I don't believe at any time really contemplated a military take-over of the West Western States other than Poland, Hungary Romania - they did not intend really to occupy Western Germany, but they intended to control it. And this was fully within their capabilities had they acted more correctly.