740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–248: Telegram

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

top secret

2937. For the Secretary and Lovett from Douglas.

1. Saw Bevin at noon today. He approves text of draft note sent Embtel 2929, July 2,1 with following comments and reservations:

Draft text makes reference to correspondence between President Truman and Stalin. He would like, urgently, to see the language of Stalin’s reply,2 since, as reported in Embtel 2853, June 28,3 Stalin’s reply to Churchill4 was completely noncommittal. If Stalin’s reply to President Truman indicates a recognition of our right to communications with our forces in Berlin, British will adjust the language of the identic UK note by making reference to President Truman’s correspondence with Stalin, and by saying that correspondence in a similar sense was had between Churchill and Stalin. If, however, Stalin’s reply to President Truman is as noncommittal as Stalin’s reply to Churchill, Bevin wonders whether it is wise to expose ourselves to a refutation.
As to the final paragraph of the draft note, Bevin feels that in the event the military governors are unable to resolve disputes among themselves, it would be inadvisable to hurdle the CFM. This machine, he said, had been established and although it had not worked satisfactorily, he was reluctant to take the first move to bury it. He believes, therefore, that in the event the military governors find it impossible to reconcile their differences, it would be preferable to substitute the following language for the last paragraph of the draft note:

“If, after a reasonable and stated time, the military governors, in spite of their local knowledge and experience, are still unable to reach agreement, the questions still in dispute shall be referred to the Council of Foreign Ministers.”

I can see that his view is not without logic. I suggested, however, that the draft note would, in the US, be stronger and satisfy, what from this distance I sensed was public opinion at home, if some reference were made to the possibility of submitting the Berlin issue to the [Page 943] UN. I therefore suggested language along the following lines as ma addition to the substitute language which he suggests, and which is quoted above:

“In the event of failure by the CFM to reach agreement after a reasonable and stated time, the governments concerned will consider what further steps should be taken, aimed at a peaceful settlement of the Berlin question, including possible reference to the appropriate organ of the United Nations.”

This procedure will make a record of our concern for established machinery and our anxiety to use every rung of the ladder leading to peaceful settlement, i.e., military governors, CFM, and finally, UN. Moreover, since issue now under draft note language, clearly limited to Berlin and time factor can be defined, there is some defense against dangers of CFM meeting (Embtel 2907, June 30,5 and Embtel 2915, July 16).

Bevin is considering this suggestion, and I think will give a favorable answer this afternoon.

Massigli concurs in Bevin’s view expressed in regard to the last paragraph, and is disposed to favor the suggested addition.

2. ReEmbtel 2915, Bevin is instructing Robertson, in concert with Clay and Koenig, and if Koenig or his deputy are unwilling or unavailable, with Clay alone, to prepare a letter in reply to Sokolovsky along the lines of Embtel 2915, unless they think it should follow different lines, and to deliver it this afternoon. His instructions also include releasing the letter to the press as soon as it reaches Sokolovsky’s hands, and to arrange for a meeting, preferably in company with his colleagues, with Sokolovsky tomorrow, Saturday, morning.

3. As to the timing of the dispatch of the note, Bevin feels that a decision on this point should be reserved until we have had an opportunity to learn of Sokolovsky’s response and attitude. He is inclined to think, in the light of the situation as it exists today, which of course may be quite different on learning of Sokolovsky’s attitude, that it would be better to postpone the dispatch of the note until the 5th or 6th, but not later than the 6th. His reasons are as follows:

To dispatch a note before knowing of Sokolovsky attitude would be going over his head to the Kremlin.
There may be differences in the Polit Bureau which Robertson’s response to Sokolovsky may require some time to resolve.
Members of the Polit Bureau may be away over the week-end, and that, accordingly, to dispatch the note before they have had an opportunity to consider it might aggravate the situation.
Bevin feels that if the note is put forward at approximately the same time as the letter to Sokolovsky is under discussion, it may harden the Soviet reaction.
Bevin believes that the world press will give reply to Sokolovsky a favorable reception and thus build up public opinion in our support.

To most of the reasons Bevin advances for delay, there are obviously counterconsiderations which I impressed on him. He finally replied that he would prefer not to make commitment as to timing until he had a clearer view of Sokolovsky’s attitude and response.

Massigli agrees, generally, with Bevin’s view as to this.

Sent Department as 2937, repeated Berlin (for Clay and Murphy) as 273, repeated Paris as 340, Moscow (for Ambassador) as 117.

  1. Not printed; differences between the draft note under reference here and the text of the note handed to Ambassador Panyushkin on July 6 are indicated in annotations to the latter, p. 950.
  2. The text of Stalin’s message to Truman of June 16, 1945 ( Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, p. 137) was transmitted in telegram 2548, July 2, to London, not printed, for delivery to Foreign Secretary Bevin (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–248).
  3. Not printed.
  4. For the text of Stalin’s message of June 17, 1945 to Churchill, see Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R., Commission for the Publication of Diplomatic Documents, Correspondence between the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. and the Presidents of the U.S.A. and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945, vol. i, Correspondence with Winston S. Churchill and Clement R. Attlee (July 1941–November 1945) (Moscow: Foreign Languages Printing House, 1957), p. 366.
  5. Ante, p. 936.
  6. Ante, p. 938.