740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–3048: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France

us urgent

2384. For the Ambassador. The following draft note was sent Douglas this morning with request that he urgently seek British approval and support with French. Douglas will discuss note with Massigli but you are requested at the same time to urge French Govt to agree to and to join with this approach. You should indicate to French that we greatly prefer three power note but in view of necessity of stating case to American people and to the world, failing agreement we would have to send note or make equivalent statement alone. Text of draft note follows:

“The US Govt wishes to call to the attention of the Soviet Govt the extremely serious international situation which has been brought about by the arbitrary and illegal actions of the Soviet Govt in instituting a blockade against the sectors in Berlin occupied by the United States, Great Britain and France. Irrespective of whatever relatively minor difficulties may have arisen in the administration of the city of Berlin, the US Govt regards these measures of blockade instituted by the Soviet military authorities in Germany as an arbitrary and dangerous violation of existing agreements concerning the administration of Germany by the four occupying powers. The US Govt urges immediate joint effort to remove these hazards which we believe neither our Govt nor the Soviet Govt can view without extreme concern.

The rights of the US as a joint occupying power in Germany and in Berlin derive from the total defeat and unconditional surrender of Germany. The international agreement undertaken in connection therewith by the Govts of the US, UK, France and the Soviet Union defined the zones in Germany and the sectors in Berlin which are occupied by these powers, and established the control of Germany and Berlin by the victor nations on a basis of friendly cooperation which the Govt of the US earnestly desires to continue to pursue.

The right of free access to Berlin was clearly and unavoidably implicit in these arrangements and has long been confirmed by usage. It was directly specified in a message sent by Pres Truman to Marshal Stalin on June 14, 1945,1 which agreed to the withdrawal of US forces to the zonal boundaries, provided satisfactory arrangements could be entered into between the military commanders, which would give access by rail, road and air to US forces in Berlin. This proposal was accepted by Premier Stalin in his reply on June 16.2 Nothing has ever [Page 934] occurred to alter this pattern. The US withdrew its forces from Saxony and Thuringia in June 1945 in order that the agreement on the occupation of Germany and Berlin could enter into effect. The right of the US to its position in Berlin thus stems originally from precisely the same source as the right of the, Soviet Union. It is impossible to recognize the latter and deny the former.

It clearly results from these undertakings that Berlin is not a part of the Soviet zone but is an international zone of occupation. Undertakings in good faith engaged in by the zone commanders and subsequently developed by the Allied Control Authority, as well as practices sanctioned by usage, guarantee the US, together with the other powers, free access to Berlin for the purpose of fulfilling its responsibilities in Germany. Any other contemplation would shock all rules of comity and reason.

In order that there should be no misunderstanding whatsoever on this point, the US Govt categorically asserts that it is in occupation of its sector in Berlin as a matter of established right deriving from the defeat and surrender of Germany and confirmed by formal agreements among the principal allies. It further declares that it will not be induced by threats, pressures or other actions of the Soviet Commanders in Berlin to withdraw from the city. It is hoped that the Soviet Govt entertains no doubts whatsoever on this point.

If there are disagreements between the Soviet Government and the Government of the United States in respect to any phases of this situation, they should not be settled by attempts at duress. They should be settled at the council table in keeping with our mutual pledges as copartners in the United Nations. It is for these reasons that we propose immediate consultations to seek a friendly settlement which shall do full justice to the rights of all concerned.

This Government now shares with the Governments of France and the United Kingdom the responsibility for the physical well-being of 2,400,000 persons in the western zones of Berlin initially undertaken at Soviet request on July 7, 1945. Restrictions recently imposed by the Soviet authorities in Berlin have operated to prevent this Government and the other western occupational powers from fulfilling that humane responsibility in an adequate manner. The local reasons vouchsafed by the Soviet Command in Berlin for these restrictions are obvious pretexts which cannot be given serious credence against the far weightier considerations so clearly involved.

The responsibility which this Government bears for the physical well-being and the safety of the German population in Berlin subject to its authority is outstandingly humanitarian in character. This population includes hundreds of thousands of women and children, whose health and safety are dependent on the continued use by the western occupation authorities of adequate facilities for moving food, medical [Page 935] supplies and other indispensable items in the maintenance of human life in the western zones of Berlin. It involves the most elemental of those human rights which both our govts are solemnly pledged to protect. The US Govt is sure that the Soviet Government will agree that it is intolerable that the helpless people of Berlin should be made the victims of an inhuman blockade arbitrarily imposed by the actions of one of the occupying authorities.

This Government is therefore obliged to insist that either the arrangements which have prevailed heretofore for the movement of freight traffic from the western zones of Berlin be re-established on the old basis and restored to full efficiency of operation, or new arrangements be made immediately available which would permit the western powers to fulfill their responsibilities in the Berlin area. This Government feels that there can be no question of delay in the restoration of these essential services. The needs of the civilian population in the Berlin area are imperative and must be met at once by other than expedient recourses. It is equally imperative in the view of the Government of the United States that this situation should not be allowed to deteriorate into a threat to the peace. It is confident the Soviet Union will share our anxiety to remove these potential hazards in the Berlin area.

Holding these urgent views regarding its rights and obligations in the American zone of occupation in Berlin, yet eager always to resolve its controversies in the spirit of fair consideration for the viewpoints of all concerned, the Government of the United States submits the following proposal to the Soviet Union.

Formal access to the city of Berlin shall be immediately restored and maintained, and the population of Berlin shall thus be relieved from the dangers and threats to its existence brought on by these methods of blockade. When this is done we shall proceed to negotiate on any matter relating to the quadripartite administration of the city of Berlin which the Soviet Government feels is in dispute between the occupying authorities.
These negotiations shall proceed through the Council of Foreign Ministers with the understanding that if the Council fails to agree within a reasonable and stated time, the disagreement shall be referred to the Security Council of the United Nations for a decision.
If the Soviet Government prefers, we shall jointly submit the situation immediately to the United Nations for decision under the applicable terms of the United Nations Charter.”3

[Page 936]

Sent to Paris as 2384; repeated to USPolAd Berlin and to AmEmbassy Moscow for the Ambassador adding that this note is sent for your information and not for delivery yet since it is being discussed in London as a three-power draft.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, pp. 135136.
  2. Ibid., p. 137.
  3. In telegram 2493, July 1, to London, not printed, the Department offered the following substitutions for paragraphs 2 and 3, after receiving the British comments in telegram 2907, infra: “2. These negotiations shall proceed through the Allied Control Council in Berlin. 3. If, after a reasonable and stated time, there is still in dispute in the Allied Control Council any question pertaining to the, rights of the occupying powers in the Berlin area, the US Govt would be prepared to join with the other occupying powers in referring such matters’ still in dispute to the appropriate organ of the United Nations for consideration and decision.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–148)