740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–748: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom

top secret   us urgent

2635. For Douglas. With purpose in view stated last para urtel 30331 we had already begun study of alternatives which Sov reply may present. Given below in inverse order of probability is our preliminary survey of these alternatives concerning which we would appreciate comments yourself, Brit and French and addressees this message:

1. Sovs accept proposal contained in parallel notes. Our objectives in ensuing negotiations would then be to obtain confirmation and precise definition of rights of free access and communication to Berlin.

2. Sovs flatly reject notes by refusing to lift blockade and proposing no negotiation. We would continue to supply Berlin by airlift, which is obviously not a solution. Our first step would be to reiterate our demand for lifting of the blockade and at the same time to propose that, if this is done, the question of Berlin rights be referred to International Court of Justice. In event of refusal contemplated next step would then be to bring Sov blockade to attention of Security Council with or without further efforts at negotiation, reserving, however, the right of such action as may prove necessary for the supplying of Berlin.

3. Sovs agree to lift blockade provided CFM would be convened to consider entire German question, including actions of western powers determined by London tripartite conference. Element of duress might be less significant in sense that Sovs might not require abandonment western German program as pre-condition for CFM meeting. While acceptance could cast uncertainty on western German Govt plans, proposal in this form might prove difficult to reject outright since such rejection could imply refusal to negotiate under any circumstances. Western allies might consider offering counter-proposal accepting a CFM meeting dealing initially with subjects relating to Berlin city administration and allied rights connected therewith, discussion of further questions relating to Germany to be dependent on agreement on Berlin issues; if this proposal unacceptable to Sovs, Sov agreement would be requested to refer Berlin question to International Court of Justice.

4. Tenor Sokolovsky’s remarks to Mil Govs and line of Soviet-licensed press indicate probable course of Sov action may be somewhat as follows. They may deny the blockade as such exists, stating that temporary suspension of traffic has been caused by technical difficulties [Page 955] and counter-measures necessitated by protection of Soy zone economy against unilateral “illegal” actions of western powers following London CFM. Sovs might therefore propose CFM meeting be convened to consider Berlin situation and its preliminary cause, namely, western German program. Sov proposal might make no reference to past actions which on both sides presumably would remain in force or it might suggest that western powers suspend western German program while Sov Govt for its part would likewise suspend measures in Berlin area. Sovs might possibly exclude abrogation western German currency reform from their demands on theory the quadripartite discussions of currency reform for all of Germany could be resumed. In summary, however, their proposal would be that entire German question including Berlin situation be considered as a whole and that duress of the blockade would be continued until situation in Germany prior to London talks on Germany was restored.

Our first course of action under this heading should be to re-submit our demand for the lifting of the blockade and to point out that Sov measures against Berlin represent an inhumane form of coercion which cannot be treated on the same basis as political questions affecting the different zones. With respect to our western German program we should insist that this was forced upon the western allies by Sov obstruction on all aspects of the German question in the discussions of the Allied Control Council and other pertinent international meetings. As to the unilateral character of the western German program which was undertaken to preserve the areas of Germany under western authority from complete chaos, we should refer to Sov unilateral steps destructive of German economic and political unity which the Sovs themselves have claimed were no business of the Control Council or the other allied powers. The western nations in their reply should reiterate their willingness to negotiate all matters in Berlin affecting four-power interests and should suggest that in the event of Sov refusal these matters be referred to the International Court. At that stage, namely immediately after dispatch of the western nations’ second note, western nation proposal should be notified forthwith to the United Nations in order that the Security Council should be advised of action taken under Article 33.2

5. Above represents tentative estimate and views based chiefly on speculation and without prior knowledge of nature Sov reply. Two considerations seem important: (a) we should not negotiate under direct duress; (b) lifting of blockade would go far in achieving our initial objective. Although we appreciate advantage of endeavoring to secure assurance that blockade will not be re-instituted, we are doubtful [Page 956] if we could make such assurance a condition to talks. If Sovs abandon blockade and propose a meeting to discuss entire German problem, we should consider very carefully whether we should refuse such a meeting and the conditions under which it could best be used to reach agreement and avoid open conflict.

6. Re your inquiry about barrage balloons, you will recall agreement stated our telecon3 that no counter-action should be taken without governmental consultation and approval. We envisage that an immediate protest would be made to Moscow demanding removal of the balloons. We are of the opinion that any steps of a kind involving possible overt military action should be taken up by Govts with Sovs and at the same time notified to United Nations in accordance with Art 33 of the Charter.4 Sent London as 2635; repeated Paris 2538; Berlin 1210; Moscow 779.

  1. Not printed; it asked for the Department’s views on the possible contents of a Soviet reply (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–748).
  2. The four alternatives presented here were part of a memorandum prepared by Bohlen on July 6, and sent to Lovett (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–648).
  3. The transcript of this telecon is not printed.
  4. In telegram 3033, July 7, from London, not printed, Douglas speculated that there were many alternatives open to the Soviets, two of which were asking for a CFM and sending a stiff reply. Three days later he reported that a discussion with Strang and Massigli on the possible Soviet replies had proceeded along the lines of this cable (telegram 3109, July 10, from London, not printed (740.00119 Control (German)/7–748 and 1048)). Ambassador Smith speculated that the Soviet reply would be an unyielding rebuttal, denying the existence of a blockade, but concluding with a statement of willingness to negotiate. Flat acceptance or rejection, he considered unlikely (telegram 1294, July 11, from Moscow, not printed (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–1148)). Ambassador Caffery indicated the expected Soviet reply would be along the lines of paragraph three or four of this telegram and doubted whether the United States would be able to avoid the convoking of the CFM (telegram 3649, July 12, not printed (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–1248)).