740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–446: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany ( Murphy ) to the Secretary of State


947. Reference Department’s 687, March 18, and 142, January 17.28 Study of air situation here leads me to believe that there has been considerable misapprehension about our position vis-à-vis the USSR in regard to exchange of flight courtesies and privileges. The seven-to-one balance of clearances granted Soviets against clearances granted US by Soviets mentioned your 142 is far from representing the position as we see it here. According to USAFE, US clearances granted Soviet planes from November 1 to March 25 totaled 35 as against 47 granted by Soviets to US planes. These figures do not include corridor flights over Soviet zone to and from Berlin where (see CC–2377, April 229) the balance is completely one-sided in our favor.

Thus, the position of US air officials in Berlin largely because of location of city in Soviet zone, has been that of continually having to press the Soviets to agree to air arrangements mainly of interest to US and our other Allies. Awareness of this position, coupled with the belief that granting of air courtesies useful to Soviets would give us bargaining power and redound to our longer-term advantage were among the considerations behind the Control Council action referred to in Moscow’s 743 to Department30 (repeated Berlin as 52), and Budapest’s 451 to Department29 (repeated Berlin as 29).

Procedure for clearing US planes over Soviet-occupied Germany, moreover, has been functioning satisfactorily for some time with clearance generally obtainable in less than 24 hours.

In these circumstances I do not feel that there is any latitude, on balance, for administrative or other use of clearance procedure for Soviet planes over the US zone to obtain more favorable Soviet treatment for US planes in other areas. Air officials here believe, and I [Page 759] agree, that obstacles placed in the way of Soviet flights over American zone to western Europe (which may seem a possible means of exerting some pressure) might be countered by any number of aggravating restrictions on American craft flying over Soviet-occupied German territory with real disadvantage to our operations.

I should like to add that air officers of OMGUS have been meticulous about keeping my office informed on quadripartite and American civil air projects and in seeking our advice. If there has been any failure to coordinate with Department, it is our fault not theirs.31

Repeated to Moscow as 86, and Budapest as 22.

  1. Neither printed. Telegram 142 requested information on the number of permits granted for Soviet flights over U.S. controlled territory and that for U.S. flights over areas controlled by the Soviet Union. The Department stated that it had received reports that the ratio of permits granted by the United States to those granted by the Soviet authorities was 7 to 1. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/1–1746)

    Telegram 687 expressed the Department’s view in favor of restrictions on the movement of Soviet aircraft over U.S. controlled territory similar to those imposed by the Soviets on U.S. flights over Soviet-controlled areas. The telegram also called for closer coordination between the Air Directorate and the State Department. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–946)

  2. Not printed.
  3. Supra.
  4. Not printed.
  5. The Department’s reply contained in telegram 905, April 18, to Berlin, reads as follows: “Dept concurs views expressed urtel 947 April 4 and regrets delay in receiving this info which contradicts info previously given Dept and with which Dept would probably have pursued different course of action. Every effort should be made to keep Dept currently informed of aviation developments.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–446)