740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–748

Notes of a Conference, by the Commanding General, First Airborne Army (Parks)66

Notes of Conference Between Marshal Zhukov and Soviet Representatives, General Clay and US Representatives, General Weeks 67 and British Representatives at Marshal Zhukov’s Headquarters on June 29, 1945, Beginning at 1430 Hours

Marshal Zhukov opened the meeting by saying the principal problem to be settled was the taking over of the Zones of Berlin and occupation by Russian forces of Germany west of Berlin.68 He stated that apparently it would be necessary to discuss some things pertaining to the Big Three Conference69 as well. Marshal Zhukov suggested discussing the problems of the agenda by paragraphs. All agreed that this was a good plan.

Marshal Zhukov desired to discuss the number of troops British and US desired to bring into Berlin Zone and what Soviets want to [Page 354] keep there themselves. This problem is important because other points hinge on it—supplies, food, and movement of troops. US expect to bring approximately 30,000 troops. British somewhat less, perhaps 25,000, which would be the maximum, and almost all are administrative troops. Soviet forces will be about 25,000 within the zone of greater Berlin. The Marshal asked General Clay if the US expect to bring tanks. General Clay replied that one Armored Division with tanks will be part of the original force entering Berlin. Later it will be replaced with another type of division—an Airborne Infantry Division without tanks. British basis will be an Armored Division with a few tanks for a parade. Marshal Zhukov stated that Soviet troops consist mostly of Infantry, Service and QM71 troops. General Clay stated the US plan was similar but at present only the Armored Division is available. Russians had no objections to the preliminary figures. Marshal Zhukov stated that if there were no further questions by British or Americans, discussion of paragraph 1 will be considered concluded. All agreed.

Second point Marshal Zhukov suggested was occupation of Berlin and Soviet occupation of western Germany. First the date and the order of movement of troops, and technical questions involved. General Clay said the planning date used by the US was 1 July, but it could be changed if desired by the Soviets. Marshal Zhukov requested British and US to express their points and then he would give his. The Marshal asked when the Americans can move out of German area west of Berlin. General Clay said withdrawal can begin on 1 July, moving in three phases taking nine days, which was an agreement discussed with Soviet Commanders on front lines so that Soviets can move in right behind. The Marshal desired to know if the question was that US couldn’t move quicker, or that the Soviets couldn’t follow. General Clay stated this was a tentative arrangement with Soviet Field Commanders. The Marshal stated they had no authority to make such a statement and that the entire area could be taken over in 24 hours. The Marshal added that Americans should not accept any statement from Field Commanders as final or authoritative; the occupation can be done with mobile forces in one day. The Soviets can move staff, billeting, and training troops right behind the American troops moving to the west. General Parks stated the Berlin District desired to retain Halle for staging of troops scheduled to go into Berlin. The Marshal asked what purpose necessitated retention of Halle since it was not large enough to stage the entire American Berlin occupation forces. General Parks stated that occupying troops had not been released from parent organizations and it is necessary to stage them at just one day’s march from Berlin and SHAEF had [Page 355] obtained authority to use Halle for the staging area. Marshal Zhukov said it was agreeable to retain Halle for this purpose.

British stated they could evacuate Wismar (sic) pocket in one day, (Northern area), and the Southern pocket around Magdeburg in two days, unless it was desired by the Soviets to move them in step with the US forces alongside in which case it would take 6 days to conform. Soviets reminded British that the Southern sector of the area which they occupy requires a move of 85 kilometers in a straight line, 100 kilometers by road. British feel that important point is ability to deal with and make decisions with Soviet Field Commanders. Marshal Zhukov said it will be better to decide at the meeting and give an order. Marshal Zhukov indicated that local arrangements can be made to carry out the order, but the Field Commanders will not have the right to change the order. Agreed: One day for British withdrawal from its Northern sector, and two days for its Southern sector. General Clay mentioned six days for American sector. (This was changed later to four days, provided General Bradley72 concurred.)

General Parks said that the break up of Berlin using nine days would be difficult, as it was necessary that the maximum number of troops be allowed in as quickly as possible. Marshal Zhukov asked if it would be possible for the Americans to clear out of Russian zone of Western Germany faster. General Clay said he thought it could be done in six days, but he would have to confirm with General Bradley. The Americans have a much greater distance to evacuate than the British. Marshal Zhukov said the quicker the move, the quicker the entry into Berlin. For instance, the QM and reconnaissance or billeting people can go into Berlin on perhaps 1 July, or 2, 3, 4, depending on time that troops are moving to west. For the British, if 1 July is starting day of movement to the west, recce73 party could start on 1 July and main body on 4 July. Russians and British agreed, with Russians getting permission to send out recce parties into present British occupied territory for places to set up staffs, billeting, etc. The Soviets will furnish a list of the places they desire to reconnoiter and their recce parties will not have more than 100 men each, with a total of 1,000 or 1200 into the entire zone without tanks, artillery—just cars and motorcycles. In addition, the Soviets desired to inspect airdromes occupied by British in Northern zone. British stated that no airdromes are occupied by them in Russian zone to be, but that it was satisfactory for Soviets to make recce of the airdromes in the zone now occupied by British. It was decided that Soviets had complete agreement with British on the occupation of Berlin and German territory west of Berlin.

[Page 356]

Marshal Zhukov stated the Soviets desired to do the same with the US forces up to the border. They had 12 scouting parties for ground reconnaissance and additional scouting parties for the airdromes. They will furnish a list of airdromes and spots they desire to reconnoiter. Airdromes are to be available for inspection on 2 July, a day after the ground spots. American can send Berlin recce parties on 1 July, and the main body can enter Berlin on day that movement is complete. General Parks indicated Berlin District desires to build up Berlin occupation force at Halle and use Halle-Dessau-Berlin autobahn to enter Berlin. 2nd Armored Division is now bivouacked near Halle and if it does not move into Berlin at the earliest possible moment, it will be in Soviet zone. Marshal Zhukov inquired why the troops must be in three groups instead of being in one place as a whole. It was explained that Halle is not large enough to hold such a force. General Clay then asked Marshal Zhukov why, if US forces release one-third of German-occupied area to Russians on first day, cannot US be permitted one-third of US occupation force into Berlin. Marshal Zhukov said this was impossible. General Clay then said he now had the impression that the Soviets would like to move into their area as soon as possible. If that was so, he would consult with American authorities and see if the move could not be done more quickly. Subject to confirmation tomorrow, we will set 4 July to be out of Russian zone and expect to move into Berlin District the last day we leave the Russian zone. General Parks stated he understood that troops will be allowed to bivouac as they are now settled until they are permitted to move to Berlin. This was agreed to by the Russians, although they desired the US forces to concentrate on the road to Berlin. General Parks states this could not be because it would disrupt the meager communications we now have. Soviets have allotted one road for Americans to use in entering Berlin. General Parks informed that it takes two days to move an Armored Division, so it was agreed they could start on 3 July and complete move by midnight 4–5 July, although during the moving time they will be in Russian Zone. This was agreeable to Marshal Zhukov. It was also agreed that billeting parties could start on 1 July, with main body closing in Berlin on day that evacuation of Russian zone is completed.

During the movement of British-American troops to the west, with the Soviet forces following, 1 to 2 kilometers will separate the Infantry troops and there will be 3 to 5 kilometers between Soviet armored vehicles and the tail of the British-American forces. This was agreed by all 3 Powers represented. British stated they have several guard posts and desired Russians to take over the strongpoints by advance Soviet parties. Marshal Zhukov stated there will be such a short [Page 357] time lapse between rear echelons and the forward Soviet elements that the take over of strong points will be simple. British suggested meeting of Soviet and British Field Commanders to decide on strong points to be taken over, which was agreed by Marshal Zhukov. Lt Gen Barker,74 a Corps Commander, will meet with Marshal Zhukov’s Deputy75 at Kiel, and another Corps Commander will meet Marshal Zhukov’s Chief of Staff76 near Magdeburg. General Clay requested a Soviet Liaison Officer come to Wiesbaden, Headquarters of General Bradley, to discuss security strong points in the American occupied zone. Col General Chuikov77 will fly to Wiesbaden tomorrow to call on General Bradley. Will bring an aide, an interpreter, and perhaps his Chief of Operations. Will leave Dresden at 1200 Moscow time. General Clay will have auto transport arranged to meet General Chuikov at the airfield.

Marshal Zhukov raised the question of Soviet citizens—former prisoners—displaced persons, and German nationals. Marshal Zhukov requested that camps be kept intact so that Russian military authorities can take them over. Russians do not want to take over any captured Germans nor any wounded or sick prisoners. Russians suggest that Americans take over and remove displaced persons, but not Russians. General Clay said the Americans will allow those who desire not to go, to remain, but will take no Russian citizens except by mistake which will be corrected later. Marshal Zhukov said displaced persons should be turned over to their respective Governments to which General Clay replied that this would have to be referred to the Governments. British have few displaced persons, but they have 70,000 military prisoners. Russians insist that British march them, 50 kilometers a day if necessary, to get them out of Russian sphere. It would be permissible to keep British guards with prisoners which will enable an orderly movement to the west. Russians asked for length of time required, but British were unable to make definite commitment. British stated, however, they will notify time of movement, will provide the food and will move the German prisoners as soon as they can. Regarding Russian citizens, Marshal Zhukov desired 3 day’s food in British area and 5 day’s in American area after evacuation. This food was only for those Russians who were in camps, as those now feeding by other means would continue to do as they have been. General Clay said the food situation in American zone was critical and he was unable to make such a commitment as [Page 358] requested. It was finally agreed that Americans would be responsible for food up to 4 July, when they leave 1st zone, up to 5 July, when they leave 2nd zone, and up to 7 July, when they clear last zone. British said they would feed Russian citizens through the time they occupied the Russian area and will let as much food as possible but cannot guarantee three days additional. Will consult status of food situation and let Marshal Zhukov know tomorrow. Marshal Zhukov asked that German prisoners not be released in Russian zone, to which the British agreed. General Clay, in agreeing not to dismiss prisoners, stated that it must be left for Governmental decision in the near future inasmuch as zone prisoners had already been released. Marshal Zhukov stated apparently the Control Council will discuss that problem next time it meets.

Next paragraph dealt with roads and railroads and order of movement. Marshal Zhukov stated he received requests for railroads from Berlin to Hamburg and Bremen, Berlin–Stendal–Hannover, Berlin–Brandenburg–Magdeburg–Hannover, and a 2½ kilometer rail line within the Russian zone; that he had requests for two highways, one from Berlin through Dessau, Halle, Erfurt, Eisenach, Kassel to Frankfurt, and the other from Berlin–Magdeburg–Braunschweig; and requests for air lanes from Berlin to Bremen as well as Berlin to Frankfurt. It was apparent that all roads and lanes cut across Russian Zone of Occupation and due to the necessity of protecting these roads and lanes an extremely difficult administrative problem arises. Marshal Zhukov stated that one railway and one highway should be enough to feed and supply a small garrison of 50,000 troops, the overall combined figure of British and American occupying forces. He cannot agree to two air lines and suggests as substitute a route from Berlin through Magdeburg and Goslar. That would be 50 kilometers longer, which isn’t too much flying. General Clay defended requests for several roads and two air lines.78 American sole port is Bremen in Northwest Germany, our occupation area is in Southwest Germany, and Berlin is the administrative occupation zone. It is necessary to have freedom of access and rights on roads and lanes. Americans have not asked for exclusive use of the roads and lanes, but must have rights to use them as we need. Marshal Zhukov stated he is not turning down the right but the Soviet authorities are not expected to give any corridor. If Americans do not like route through Magdeburg it can be changed but Marshal Zhukov chose Magdeburg route because it was a central lane, reasonable to both British and American forces. The railway and highway both go through Magdeburg and the central [Page 359] route would be most economical. General Clay asked only for right to move without restriction under whatever Russian regulations are set down. Marshal Zhukov asked if French will have any additional requirements to which General Clay replied that he didn’t think so, but British and Americans cannot speak for them. It was agreed to accept Magdeburg-Berlin railway, the gauge of which has not been changed and will not be changed without prior notice to British and Americans. Regarding Magdeburg bridge, it was agreed that it will be rebuilt with American material and Russian engineers. The British agreed not to make further demands for the Hamburg–Berlin railway. It was agreed to accept the autobahn Hannover–Magdeburg–Brandenburg–Berlin road for use by both British and American forces. Marshal Zhukov asked that US forces release request for other roads. General Clay accepted the one road with right reserved to reopen question at the Control Council in the event the one road is not satisfactory. Marshal Zhukov stated that possibly all points discussed at this conference may be changed.

General Parks stated that movement of American occupying troops from Halle into Berlin will require at least two weeks. Marshal Zhukov said it was impossible for them to be delayed more than 4 days as the Soviets will be requiring the road for their own troop movement and supply. General Parks urged strongly to General Clay not to release the road from Halle to Berlin, but General Clay said he couldn’t hold up negotiations for one short road. General Clay then stated that if the Halle-Berlin road were released, it would be necessary to have a staging area in Magdeburg which Marshal Zhukov said would not be objectionable. General Parks brought up question of Signal Communications stating that long lines—formerly German cables—have been put in shape and now are operating all the way from Frankfurt to Leipzig. They will be the main communication link to Frankfurt for the conference and must be serviced by American troops. Marshal Zhukov stated this question would be settled in discussion of next paragraph. General Clay asked for unlimited access to roads and Marshal Zhukov stated he did not understand just what the British and Americans desired. It will be necessary for vehicles to be governed by Russian road signs, military police, document checking, but no inspection of cargo—the Soviets are not interested in what is being hauled, how much, or how many trucks are moving. This was agreeable to all 3 Powers represented. The exchange of forces for occupation of Berlin and German territory west of Berlin will not have passes due to the imminence of the move. There were no objections to all points and agreement established.

Signal communications were the basis of next paragraph for discussion. Marshal Zhukov stated there is a big cable between Berlin and Leipzig which joins with Frankfurt. This cable is underground [Page 360] and not subject to damage or breakage like an overhead line. It will have Russian repair and Russian guard. Where the cable is in the American territory, it should be brought up to high standard by the Americans and maintained. Any part which later comes under Russian control will be maintained by the Russians after they have taken over. Whenever American or British authorities desire to inspect lines they are welcome to do so at any time and can come in with Soviet pass. Vehicles can be sent into Russian zone at any time with Soviet pass to inspect, repair, and supply teams within the Russian zone. This cable should be big enough to handle both British and American requirements. The British made reservation to request another line from Hannover through Magdeburg to Berlin, which they have constructed thus far to Magdeburg. This is an overland line and would be completed with Russian permission to do so. This cable will be discussed again soon, possibly in Berlin with Control Council. There was discussion as to the possibility of an underground cable from Berlin to Hannover but neither the Soviets nor the British knew if it was there.

The plan of radio communications for conference is completed. US forces desire radio relay points between Berlin District and Frankfurt as we can get better transmission and speech circuits. This question will be discussed by technical experts of Signal Divisions of each nation concerned. British and Americans asked that decisions be left with specialists which was agreed by all parties. Radio telephone for Washington to be used during conference has been agreed upon.

The next point for discussion was air ways and rights. Russians stated they gave best airdrome to US and British for conference. Gatow has been designated for full use by both British and American delegations. Russians maintain right of exterior guard and will furnish necessary mess and housekeeping personnel if desired. Guard for fuel hangars, etc., will be responsibility of British and Americans on field. Soviets will exercise no control within the field.

After conference, Gatow becomes British field as it lies within British zone according to Soviet official map. Staaken is in the Russian zone and Russians expected British to give Russians the buildings which are in the British zone. British countered that they had not counted on Gatow and expected to get Staaken from the Russians inasmuch as the buildings were within the British zone. Templehof goes to the Americans which was readily agreed. General Weeks stated that his map supposedly official, did not show Gatow in the British zone. Marshal Zhukov stated flatly that Staaken was not available as it was being prepared for another delegation. Gatow will handle all aircraft incident to conference and all authorities have agreed. British desired Gatow and Staaken airfields considered by Governments later or by the Control Council. This was satisfactory. [Page 361] Americans can move in recce party onto Templehof on 2 July and take over the field on the 4th. This was agreed. Marshal Zhukov asked if an occasional aircraft could land at Templehof and General Hill stated there would be no objection.

General Hill asked for authority to fly in an arc bounded by Hamburg, Berlin and Frankfurt, using whatever direct route to Berlin was required depending on originating point of flight without restriction, and authority to fly 50 miles east of Berlin for instrument landing. Marshal Zhukov stated he would report to his Government that the Americans and British will accept an air lane with the understanding that we operate under US and British regulations, notifying Soviet authorities with the same notice given US and British authorities. For a short while there will be no answer from the Governments; therefore, there should be no problem with previous agreements about aircraft coming into Berlin area. Americans and British will accede to Russian request to notify Soviets one hour before take off time, or arrival over Soviet territory, giving number of aircraft and destination.

Regarding air lanes into Berlin, the main lane from Magdeburg to Berlin will be used. From Magdeburg one lane goes to the southwest to Frankfurt and the other to Hannover to the American and British centers respectively. British and Americans will present the air lane picture to their Governments and give confirmation to Soviets tomorrow.

General Parks asked for permission to bring in an additional 100 vehicles and 500 men to implement force at Babelsberg charged with getting conference area established. Authority was granted by Marshal Zhukov. General Hill asked when the Soviets would vacate Gatow and was told that they can be moved whenever Americans and British desire to take over.

General Weeks stated that he asked British Mission to Moscow to secure permission to bring in troops in a signal dated about 22 June and Marshal Zhukov stated that he had not yet received authority from Moscow. Marshal Zhukov stated further that all requests received had been honored. He also stated that any additional reasonable request would be granted. British desired to bring in 3,500 and the Marshal stated there wasn’t room to accommodate them in the compound. Authority was given for 1,500 to 2,000 more and after 4 July they will be able to move in whatever they please. General Weeks stated that they had secured additional space thru Col Gen Kruglov79 and could accommodate the requested number of men to which Marshal Zhukov replied that 3,000 troops could come in subject to billeting area designated by General Kruglov.

  1. Transmitted to the Department by the United States Political Adviser for Germany in his letter of April 7, 1948, to the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas, Charles Saltzman. This letter reads in part as follows: “… I enclose a copy of the complete notes made by the American representative of the conference between Marshal Zhukov, General Clay and General Weeks in Berlin on June 29, 1945. This was the meeting at which a number of decisions were taken regarding the practical features of the quadripartite occupation of Berlin and the use of the corridor Berlin-Helmstedt by railroad and air. As you understand, this agreement was never formalized, each party having made his own notes. However, during the interval that has elapsed since June 29, 1945, the lines of the agreement have become established by daily usage and practice.” In a memorandum of April 1, 1948, to Maj. Gen. Alfred M. Gruenther, then Director of the Joint Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Parks transmitted a copy of these notes and identified them as his own (Department of the Army Files). This meeting was described in Lucius D. Clay, Decision in Germany (Garden City, New York, 1950), pp. 2427. The events of this meeting are summarized in telegram 87, June 30, 8 p.m., from the United States Political Adviser for Germany in Hoechst, Conference of Berlin [Potsdam), vol. i, p. 135.
  2. Lt. Gen. Sir Ronald Weeks, Deputy Military Governor and Chief of Staff, British Zone of Occupation in Germany.
  3. For additional documentation regarding the entry of Allied military forces into Berlin and the establishment of access routes to Berlin, see Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. i, pp. 85155 passim, and Truman, Year of Decisions, pp. 306307.
  4. Between July 17 and August 2, 1945, President Truman, Generalissimo Stalin, and Prime Minister Churchill (later Prime Minister Clement Attlee), with their advisers, met in conference at Berlin. For minutes and other records of the conference proceedings, see Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, pp. 31606. For correspondence regarding the genesis and arrangements for the conference, see ibid., vol. i, pp. 1156.
  5. Quartermaster.
  6. Gen. Omar Bradley, Commanding, General, U.S. Twelfth Army Group.
  7. Reconnaissance.
  8. British Lt. Gen. E. H. Barker, Commanding General, 8th British Corps.
  9. Soviet Gen. Vasily D. Sokolovsky, First Deputy of the Supreme Chief of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (Zhukov).
  10. Soviet Col. Gen. V. V. Kurasov, Chief of Staff of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany.
  11. Soviet Col. Gen. Vasily I. Chuikov, Chief of the Soviet Military Administration in Thuringia.
  12. For excerpts from military correspondence between June 25 and June 28 regarding the question of freedom of access to Berlin, see Truman, Year of Decisions, pp. 306307.
  13. Col. Gen. Sergey Nikiforovich Kruglov, First Deputy People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union.