740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–648

The Secretary of State to the Soviet Ambassador (Panyushkin)1

secret

Excellency: The United States Government wishes to call to the attention of the Soviet Government the extremely serious international situation which has been brought about by the actions of the Soviet [Page 951]Government in2 imposing restrictive measures on transport which, amount now to a blockade against the sectors in Berlin occupied by the United States, United Kingdom and France. The United States Government regards these measures of blockade as a clear violation of existing agreements concerning the administration of Berlin by the four occupying powers.

The rights of the United States as a joint occupying power in Berlin derive from the total defeat and unconditional surrender of Germany. The international agreements undertaken in connection therewith by the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union defined the zones in Germany and the sectors in Berlin which are occupied by these powers. They established the quadripartite control of Berlin on a basis of friendly cooperation which the Government of the United States earnestly desires to continue to pursue.

These agreements implied the right of free access to Berlin. This Fight has long been confirmed by usage. It was directly specified in a message sent by President Truman to Premier Stalin on June 14, 1945,3 which agreed to the withdrawal of United States 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 United States forces in Berlin.4 Premier Stalin replied on June 165 suggesting a change in date but no other alteration in the plan proposed by the President. Premier Stalin then gave assurances that all necessary measures would be taken, in accordance with the plan. Correspondence in a similar sense took place between Premier Stalin and Mr. Churchill. In accordance with this understanding, the United States, whose armies had penetrated deep into Saxony and Thuringia, parts of the Soviet zone, withdrew its forces to its own [Page 952]area of occupation in Germany and took up its position in its own sector in Berlin. Thereupon the agreements in regard to the occupation of Germany and Berlin went into effect. The United States would not have so withdrawn its troops from a large area now occupied by the Soviet Union had there been any doubt whatsoever about the observance of its agreed right of free access to its sector of Berlin. The right of the United States to its position in Berlin thus stems from precisely the same source as the right of the Soviet Union. It is impossible to assert 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. Commitments entered into in good faith by the zone commanders, and subsequently confirmed by the Allied Control Authority, as well as practices sanctioned by usage, guarantee the United States together with other powers, free access to Berlin for the purpose of fulfilling its responsibilities as an occupying power. The facts are plain. Their meaning is clear. Any other interpretation would offend all the rules of comity and reason.

In order that there should be no misunderstanding whatsoever on this point, the United States Government categorically asserts that it is in occupation of its sector in Berlin with free access thereto 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 to abandon these rights. It is hoped that the Soviet Government entertains no doubts whatsoever on this point.

This Government now shares with the Governments of France and the United Kingdom the responsibility initially undertaken at Soviet request on July 7, 1945, for the physical well-being of 2,400,000 persons in the western sectors of Berlin. Restrictions recently imposed by the Soviet authorities in Berlin have operated to prevent this Government and the Governments of the United Kingdom and of France from fulfilling that responsibility in an adequate manner.

The responsibility which this Government bears for the physical well-being and the safety of the German population in its sector of Berlin 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 of adequate facilities for moving food, medical supplies and other items indispensable to the maintenance of human life in the western sectors of Berlin. The most elemental of these human rights which both our Governments are solemnly pledged to protect are thus placed in jeopardy by these restrictions. It is intolerable that any one of the occupying authorities should attempt to impose a blockade upon the people of Berlin.

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The United States Government is therefore obliged to insist that in accordance with existing agreements the arrangements for the movement of freight and passenger traffic between the western zones and Berlin be fully restored. There can be no question of delay in the restoration of these essential services, since the needs of the civilian population in the Berlin area are imperative.

Holding these urgent views regarding its rights and obligations in the United States sector of Berlin, yet eager always to resolve controversies in the spirit of fair consideration for the viewpoints of all concerned, the Government of the United States declares that duress should not be invoked as a method of attempting to dispose of any disagreements which may exist between the Soviet Government and the Government of the United States in respect of any aspect of the Berlin situation.

Such disagreements if any should be settled by negotiation or by any of the other peaceful methods provided for in Article 33 of the Charter in keeping with our mutual pledges as copartners in the United Nations. For these reasons the Government of the United States is ready as a first step to participate in negotiations in Berlin among the four Allied Occupying Authorities for the settlement of any question in dispute arising out of the administration of the city of Berlin. It is, however, a prerequisite that the lines of communication and the movement of persons and goods between the United Kingdom, the United States and the French sectors in Berlin and the Western Zones shall have been fully restored.6

Accept [etc.]

G. C. Marshall
  1. This note was handed to Ambassador Panyushkin by the Secretary of State on the morning of July 6. On the same day, the British Government transmitted an identic note to the Soviet Ambassador in London, and the French Government presented its separate note to the Soviet Ambassador in Paris. For the text of the French note, see Cmd. 7534, pp. 49–50.
  2. In the draft note agreed upon by Strang, Massigli, and Douglas and reported upon in telegram 2929, July 2, from London, not printed, the remaining portion of this paragraph read as follows: “… instituting a blockade against the sectors in Berlin occupied by the United States, Great Britain and France. The United States Government regards these measures of blockade instituted by the Soviet military authorities in Germany as a clear violation of existing agreements concerning the administration of Berlin by the four occupying powers.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–248)
  3. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, pp. 135 136.
  4. In the draft cited in footnote 2 above the text read as follows from this point: “This proposal was accepted by Premier Stalin in his reply dated June 16, 1945. In accordance with this understanding, the United States, whose armies had penetrated deep into Saxony and Thuringia, parts of the Soviet zone, withdrew its forces to its own area of occupation in Germany and took up its position in its own sector in Berlin. Thereupon the agreements in regard to the occupation of Germany and Berlin went into effect. The United States would not have so withdrawn its troops from a large area now occupied by the Soviet had there been any doubt whatsoever about the observance of its agreed right of free access to its sector of Berlin. The right of the United States to its position in Berlin thus stems from precisely the same source as the right of the Soviet Union. It is impossible to assert the latter and deny the former.”
  5. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, p. 137.
  6. In the draft cited in footnote 2 above, the text had four paragraphs instead of this final one. They read: “Such disagreements, if any, should be settled by the peaceful method of negotiation in keeping with our mutual pledges as copartners in the United Nations. It is for these reasons that the Government of the United States submits the following proposal:

    1.
    Full communication between the United States, United Kingdom and French sectors of Berlin and the western zones for allied and German personnel and freight shall be restored. When this has been done, we shall be ready to negotiate on a four power basis for the settlement of any question arising out of the administration of Berlin, particularly the question of currency, which may be in dispute among the powers.
    2.
    These negotiations shall proceed through the Military Governors in Berlin.
    3.
    If, after a reasonable unstated time, there is still a dispute among the Military Governors any question arising out of the administration of Berlin, the United States Government 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.”