740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–147: Telegram

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


1313. 1. Control Council May 31 unable to resolve deadlock on reduction of armed forces (mytel 1299, May 2951). Soviets continued to insist on exclusion of military administration from reduction. With respect to numbers, Soviet member introduced novel and singular argument that Soviets required at least 100,000 more men than any combined figure for US and British Zones, because Berlin lay in center of their zone. Soviet member described Berlin as historic capital of Germany and major political and strategic point against which Soviets must safeguard themselves in any eventuality. Clay pointed out Berlin not yet chosen as new German capital and that its control was quadripartite responsibility. He did not insist on parity of forces and stated he could accept figure of 200,000 for Soviets and 140,000 for US. Clay also stated that if additional forces were necessary for security Berlin, US would be prepared to provide its proportional share. Sokolovsky rejected Clay’s assurance as unfounded and a paper commitment, stating that even if US was prepared to increase its forces in Berlin, there would be no accommodation for them since Soviets themselves were obliged by lack of housing to maintain their headquarters outside of Berlin. He mentioned Soviets had suffered more than other allies and referred to larger figure for Soviets proposed by Secretary Byrnes at New York CFM.

British member described Soviet argument as complete red herring and, stated on area and population basis, British were justified in claiming largest troop contingent but while insisting on theoretical right of party he would agree to 156,000 for British. French member suggested 70,000 figure for French Zone. Soviet member dismissed arguments regarding area and population as unimportant and stated Soviets in any event must have additional 100,000 men because of obligation to maintain security of Berlin.

ACC decided to report disagreement to govts but on Soviet suggestion, it was agreed that if any delegation receives “new information” from its Foreign Minister, discussion may be resumed.

It is evident that Sokolovsky was careful not to slam door on this question. British attitude has not been particularly helpful in obtaining agreement which would reduce ceiling of Soviet forces to 200,000, We know from statements made by Montgomery that British are determined [Page 872] to maintain in Germany for troop-training conveniences, difficult in England because of space and financial reasons, a force larger than strict occupational needs dictate. We know also that our own forces will suffer automatic reduction because of smaller appropriations.

As matters now stand in Germany, I see no political advantage in maintenance of large bodies of troops and I doubt that preliminary wrangling with Soviet High Command here will produce results. An analogous case is that of Czechoslovakia. Dept will recall our recommendation in 1945 for removal our forces without prior agreement with USSR.52 In absence of agreement latter did remove its troops from Czechoslovakia shortly after departure US forces.

I am convinced Soviet authorities also consider large forces in Germany political liability but will maintain them in proportion Allied troop total in western Germany zones. We are thus in vicious circle. I firmly believe we would be justified in taking our own initiative which in any event our appropriation condition will require. I believe General Clay substantially shares this view.

2. With respect to problem of Berlin mayor, Soviet member proposed ACC instruct Kommandatura to approve Ostrowski’s resignation, charge Frau Schroeder to perform temporarily functions of chief mayor, and direct magistrat to proceed with elections of new chief mayor (mytel 1300, May 2953). US member accepted proposal on condition it did not sacrifice principle or create a precedent. British and French accepted on same basis. Thus was concluded weeks of debate in Kommandatura and CORC but the question of principle regarding prior or subsequent approval of municipal acts remains undecided.54

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3. Sokolovsky announced Kurochkin had been given new post and that Dratvin would succeed him on Coordinating Committee.

Repeated London as 210, to Paris as 223, Moscow via Dept as 338.


[At its 125th Meeting, June 17, 1947, the Coordinating Committee of the Allied Control Authority discussed the agreement reached on May 29, 1947, by American and British occupation authorities for the reorganization of bizonal economic agencies. For a report on this meeting, see page 926.]

  1. Not printed.
  2. See despatch 1197, October 17, 1945, from Frankfurt, and the enclosures thereto, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iv, pp. 497 ff.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Subsequently a disagreement arose in the Berlin Kommandatura and in the Coordinating Committee regarding the interpretation of the Control Council’s decision on the procedure for the election of a new Berlin Mayor (Oberbürgermeister). The United States, British, and French representatives maintained that the election of a new mayor should be carried out by the Berlin City Assembly at the request of the Magistrat in accordance with the provisions of the Berlin Constitution. The Soviet representatives insisted that the Magistrat should elect the new Mayor. When the problem was again taken up by the Control Council at its 63rd Meeting, June 9, the Soviet Delegation indicated willingness to agree to the election of a new Mayor by the City Assembly if there was recognition of the principle that the election of the new Mayor required the unanimous approval of the Berlin Kommandatura. According to the Minutes of the Council’s meeting, (copy transmitted to the Department as enclosure 1 to despatch 10339, June 26, from Berlin, not printed), Gen. Clay made the following statement which was supported by Gen. Robertson:

    “General Clay stated that he did not deviate from the principle that those acts of the Magistrat undertaken in accordance with the rights granted to it in the Berlin Constitution do not require approval by the Allied Kommandatura. He was ready to agree that the election of the Oberbürgermeister by the Municipal Assembly in accordance with the Constitution should be submitted to the Allied Kommandatura for approval.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–2647) The Council then agreed to instruct the Kommandatura to accept Ostrowski’s resignation, to authorize Frau Schroeder to act temporarily as Mayor, and to instruct the City Assembly to elect a new Mayor subject to the approval of the Kommandatura.