740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–348: Telegram

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

top secret

2961. For the Secretary, Lovett, et al from Douglas.

I. Am sorry that the telecon conversation1 consumed so much of your time and proved to be partially ineffective.

The reason I have not transmitted further comments is that immediately after the abandonment of the ill-fated telecon, Clay from Berlin had a telecon conversation with me in which there was repeated his conversation with the Army.2 This conversation ended at about 10:45 London time. I immediately saw Bevin. The results of this conversation with Bevin are repeated in the following telecon conversation with Clay. My remarks to Clay:

“I can assure you Bevin feels the urgency of events. Because Sokolovsky’s letter3 was addressed to Robertson and therefore to Bevin, and because Bevin, during the recent debate in the House of Commons made the commitment that His Majesty’s Government would study Sokolovsky’s letter and reply to it, Bevin feels that in order to discharge his obligation to the House of Commons and to comply with the decision of the Cabinet, Robertson must respond in writing to Sokolovsky. Bevin is, therefore, without implicating US or the French in any way and upon his own initiative and as a result of his own decision, instructing Robertson to deliver tonight to Sokolovsky a written reply. You doubtless know the substance of the [Page 945] first and major part of this letter.4 The latter parts implying consultation with and agreement of Robertson’s colleagues have been deleted. The following language has been substituted. (With such minor changes as Robertson may deem wise to make.)

“‘The first objective, however, must be the restoration of recognized movement facilities of all sorts between Berlin and the western zone and the resumption of the full flow of trade, thus enabling the people of Berlin to be adequately sustained in the normal way. In order to facilitate this, I should be ready to meet you forthwith to discuss times and methods of reopening communications.’

“I made it clear that the decision to send this letter must be his own and that we could not be implicated in any way since we were opposed on our account to the sending of any letter. Bevin asked me to explain to you that he did not want to be in the position of letting us down but that he had his commitments to the House of Commons which he had to discharge.

“After the letter has been sent he will be free to cooperate with us to the fullest extent. His attitude is one of firmness and complete helpfulness.”

Clay’s answer: “I just talked with Robertson who showed me his letter. While I had rather it not be sent, we really cannot quarrel with its context. I am cabling Washington that my liaison officer will call on Sokolovsky’s headquarters early tomorrow and ask orally for appointment with him for the afternoon to meet Robertson, Koenig, and myself. French will go along although they think meeting premature. We will ask Sokolovsky when he intends to reopen traffic. If reply is evasive or unpromising, that will end conference. If he states he will open traffic under certain conditions, we will discuss latter to extent permissible under our discretionary authority. I will report promptly if meeting is accepted and also results and will send copy to you.”

This, I hope, disposes of the question of the letter to Sokolovsky and a meeting of the Military Governors of the western powers with him.

II. Two questions remain in regard to the draft note:

Stalin’s reply to President Truman’s letter (see Embtel 2937, July 25) which the British are most anxious to receive; and
The question of substitute language for Paragraph 3.6

[Page 946]

Bevin understands the full significance of the language “pertaining to the rights of the occupying powers in the Berlin area” as it is related to the jurisdiction of the United Nations.

Bevin feels that in the event of failure of the negotiations among the Military Governors as contemplated in Paragraph 2 of the conclusion of the note, the next step should be the Council of Foreign Ministers. He agrees to the suggestion that “in the event of failure by the Council of Foreign Ministers 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 also reference to the appropriate organ of the United Nations.”

He thinks that the reference to any question pertaining to the rights of the occupying powers in the Berlin area should be inserted in the above quoted last paragraph, in order to cover the points which you make. I would appreciate your guidance in this respect.

III. In that part of Paragraph 1(B) in which Bevin’s substitute language is quoted, he suggests the deletion of the word “local” and after the phrase “to reach agreement” the insertion of the following: “on these matters affecting Berlin.”7

Sent Department 2961, repeated Paris Caffery 341, Berlin 274 for Murphy and Clay, Moscow 120 for Ambassador.

  1. The record of the teletype conference of July 2, under reference here, is not printed.
  2. No record has been found of the teletype conference under reference here.
  3. Regarding Marshal Sokolovsky’s letter of June 29 to General Robertson, see telegram 1555, June 30, from Berlin, p. 932, and footnote 1 thereto.
  4. General Robertson’s letter of July 3 to Marshal Sokolovsky noted with satisfaction that the measures imposed by Soviet authorities on the movement of the German population across the borders of the Soviet zone were temporary measures. Robertson also noted that Sokolovsky was doing everything possible to remove the technical difficulties which prevented the movement of trains between Berlin and Helmstedt and that the full movement on this line would be resumed before the supply position in Berlin became serious.
  5. Supra.
  6. The reference here is to a substitute paragraph transmitted in telegram 2493, July 1, to London, not printed, which read: “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 the matters still in dispute to the appropriate organ of the United Nations for consideration and decision.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–148)
  7. The reference here is to Bevin’s suggested text for the final paragraph of the draft note, submitted in telegram 2937, supra.