740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–148: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Douglas) to the Secretary of State

top secret   us urgent

2915. I have just come from long meeting this morning with Strang and Massigli, at which I had first opportunity to show draft text of note1 to latter. I told Massigli that my government thought that joint action by France, UK, and US on the note should be agreed upon as soon as possible. Massigli immediately pointed to the last two paragraphs of the suggested note and remarked that he could only express his personal opinion. He felt that the inclusion of these paragraphs [Page 939] would eliminate the possibility, which Sokolovsky’s letter2 suggested, of any local settlement being made by the military governors in Berlin. He said he felt sure it would open the door to the discussion of all German affairs, that the Soviet would use the CFM as a forum for this purpose, that the effect in western Germany would be most serious, and that we would find ourselves back where we were in November. Strang was in agreement with these observations, and added that Bevin felt it important that the discussion of the present problems should be had among the military governors, at least until this avenue was closed, that the subjects discussed could not be confined to Berlin situation if they were submitted now to CFM. Massigli expressed opinion that our note, as presently drafted, indicated no hope of settlement among the military governors. Massigli is sending his strong views to Paris and will receive word later today.3

After further discussion, Strang and Massigli felt that before a note to Moscow is dispatched, Robertson should send a reply to Sokolovsky’s letter, and determine what, if any, accommodation of the Berlin situation could be arranged among the military governors.

Meanwhile, consideration and modification of the draft note could proceed with all possible speed so that it would be in final form and agreed in the event its dispatch became necessary. In this I, personally, concurred, for I feel that it would be hasty for us to send a note to Moscow until Sokolovsky’s letter has been dealt with. The Foreign Office is sending the following to Robertson for discussion with Clay and Koenig who meet at 1:30 today:

“United States and French Ambassadors and Sir W. Strang have been considering the line which might be taken in drafting a reply to Marshal Sokolovsky’s letter to General Robertson of the 29th June. They would suggest that the reply should be sent by General Robertson who should make it clear that it has the agreement of his two colleagues. General Robertson might deliver his letter in person, with or without his colleagues, taking the opportunity to explore the situation with the Marshal. Actual drafting would be left to military governors who might like to take the following suggestions into account.

“General line of the reply would be, while abating nothing of our established rights, to follow up Sokolovsky’s approach without challenging the pretext under which he has covered his actions. It is under cover of these that we may hope that he will complete his withdrawal of these restrictions.

“As regards communications, while taking note of Sokolovsky’s statement about the reestablishment of movement of the German population and his foreshadowing of resumption of rail traffic between [Page 940] Berlin and Helmstedt, we might say that we confidently expect that there will be an immediate and full restoration of communications by rail, road, and water between Berlin and the Western zones to which we have by agreement and long usage an established right. As regards freight traffic between the Eastern and Western zones, this could at the same time be reopened, on the understanding that the question of the settlement of the wagon debt between the Eastern zone and the Western zones could be dealt with through normal channels.

“As regards the currency question, the reply might take note of the difficulties to which Marshal Sokolovsky has referred. It might say that the military governors of the Western zones are willing to cooperate to the full in reaching agreement on the mutually fair measures necessary to protect the currency of the Eastern zone. As regards currency for Berlin, the reply might refer to General Robertson’s letter to Marshal Sokolovsky of the 23d June (Berlin’s telegram No. 11534) in which General Robertson said ‘I was and am prepared to consider any reasonable arrangements for the use of a single currency in Berlin under quadripartite control, not excluding the possibility of this being the same as that in use in your zone’. This offer still stands and we are prepared for Eastern currency to circulate exclusively in Berlin provided that the issue is under Four Power control. It would be indicated that the three military governors hoped that agreement should be quickly reached on this problem, and, subject to the restoration of communications, would hold themselves at the disposal of Marshal Sokolovsky to discuss it with him.” (This has Bevin’s approval.)

Since time is of the essence and did not permit putting this to you, I had no other course than that indicated. Meanwhile, will press on with discussion of note.

If the Department may have felt it imperative to send the note as drafted, because of the reported Soviet balloon barrage, this reason no longer exists since it has been determined to be untrue (see Embtel 2901, June 305). The Department is, of course, aware from my cable 29076 that Robertson has been instructed not to shoot down balloons on his own initiative. Accordingly, immediate danger of serious developments on these scores has abated.

British public, as a result of Bevin’s statements in the House of Commons, has been informed of the significance of the Berlin situation and the history leading up to it, including the agreements from which our right to be in Berlin is derived. Is there no way in which American public opinion can be correspondingly informed in the immediate future, either by a statement issued by the President or by the Secretary, instead of through the medium of a note to Moscow? I ask this question in the event that HMG and the French Government believe that joint note should not be sent forthwith.

[Page 941]

It might be desirable dispatch note to the Soviet at about same time that Robertson delivers his reply to Sokolovsky.

Department’s comments and further instructions are urgently requested.7

Sent Department as 2915; repeated USPolAd Berlin 266, Frankfurt as 22, Paris as 337.

  1. The text of the draft note under reference here is contained in telegram 2384, June 30, to Paris, p. 933.
  2. Regarding Marshal Sokolovsky’s letter of June 29 to General Robertson, see telegram 1555, June 30, from Berlin, p. 932, and footnote 1 thereto.
  3. In telegram 3484, July 1, from Paris, not printed, Caffery reported that the French Government was sympathetic to the U.S. draft note but had reservations about the final two paragraphs. The French wanted to start quadripartite conversations in Berlin and hold the Council of Foreign Ministers in reserve. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–148)
  4. Not printed; it transmitted the text of General Robertson’s letter of June 23 which is printed in Cmd. 7534, p. 18 and Documents on Berlin, pp. 64–65.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Supra.
  7. In telegram 2513, July 1, to London, not printed, the Department of State advised Douglas that Ambassador Franks had called with a message along these same lines. The Department agreed to one more approach to Sokolovsky and suggested that the three military commanders see the Marshal July 2, and ask whether he was in a position to remove the blockade measures. If Sokolovsky’s reply did not indicate the immediate removal of restrictions, the draft note would be sent on July 3. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–148)