740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–1048: Telegram

The United States Military Governor for Germany (Clay) to the Department of the Army

top secret

CC–5118. From CINCEUR Berlin now repeated to State for info. Action to Dept of Army personal for Bradley from CINCEUR personal from Clay. Reurad W–85475.1

I have studied the State Department’s proposed alternatives with care. I agree fully to the conclusion that we should not negotiate under direct duress; that is, during the period in which the Berlin blockade continues. If the Soviet Government believes that it has gone as far as it dares at this time, it will probably be willing to negotiate in Berlin on currency reform which would provide a face-saving compromise, [Page 957]and in accepting such negotiation it would state that the technical difficulties now causing the blockade have been or are being cleared up.

I consider that such a Soviet reply is unlikely as the Soviet Government is not yet convinced of the determination of the Allied stand and hence believes it can go further.

Therefore, the Soviet Government may take the course of reopening traffic subject to our agreement to a conference at governmental level to consider the entire German question. I am sure they will neither propose nor consent to such discussions at Berlin level. If this does develop, I believe that we should state our willingness at that time to discuss the entire German question, but that our course of action in western Germany, which has been made necessary by Soviet intransigence, will not be changed or delayed pending such a conference. We should insist on a specific agenda prior to the meeting and a preliminary exchange of views on the subjects of the agenda through diplomatic channels before definite commitment to a meeting to ascertain if it could serve any useful purpose. I believe that to refuse flatly to meet to consider the entire question would put us in a bad light which would be capitalized to the full by Soviet propaganda. On the other hand, unless there is a real change in Soviet position, such a meeting would be for propaganda purposes only. I would like to emphasize through repetition my belief that a refusal to discuss the German problem as a whole if the blockade is lifted first would adversely affect our moral position in that it would be exploited to (show that we do not desire to reach an agreement. Such a meeting is not likely to record any real accomplishments, and it should not be permitted to delay our plans for western Germany.

If the Soviet Government does not agree to lift the blockade or should exact as conditions thereto the suspension of our plans for western Germany, we should refuse to even consider such suspension and should proceed promptly as suggested by the State Department to refer the question to the International Court with notification to the United Nations.

However, it would seem to me that we have not as yet gone far enough in determining our future course of action. Reference to the International Court and to the United Nations, while desirable, do not necessarily lead to results and in fact could consume many months before it can be demonstrated that no results will be forthcoming. During this period, our Berlin situation could deteriorate materially, particularly if it should continue into the winter months.

I am still convinced that the Soviets do not want war. However, they know that the Allies also do not want war and they will continue their pressure to the point at which they believe hostilities might occur.

[Page 958]

Recognizing fully the commitment implied, but convinced that the Soviets will avoid hostilities, I am strongly of the view that if the blockade is not lifted with technical difficulties still alleged as the reason, we should advise the Soviet Government that we are prepared to overcome these technical difficulties, and that we propose on a specific date to send in a convoy accompanied by the requisite bridge equipment to make our right of way into Berlin usable. There is, of course, an inherent risk in this course since once this convoy crosses the border it is committed to the movement to Berlin. In my own mind, I am convinced that it would get to Berlin and that the technical difficulties would cease to exist. If the USSR does intend war, it is because of a fixed plan. Hostilities will not result because of action on our part to relieve the blockade unless there is such a fixed plan. If there is such a fixed plan, pressures will continue elsewhere even if we leave Berlin until the Western Allies are provoked into war. Berlin, in itself, does not represent a sufficient asset to USSR to risk war unless it is committed to war.

It also seems timely to develop now what economic embargoes or other countermeasures we might employ to support our Berlin position, and at what stage of negotiations we would apply them.2

[ Clay ]
  1. Not found in Department of State files; apparently it contained the same set of alternatives as set forth in telegram 2635, supra.
  2. On July 11, in telegram 1662, from Berlin, not printed (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–1148), Murphy expressed views similar to Clay’s. He supported the idea of further negotiations with the Russians, but felt they were no longer adequate. The United States should exercise its rights in Berlin or it would lose them, and Murphy thought the best way to do this was to send guarded convoys, reinforced with troop’s and engineers, through the Soviet Zone to Berlin. This idea had almost universal support among British, French and German opinion in Berlin and ran no greater risk of war than remaining in the city. Douglas discussed the Soviet response with Clay and Murphy and advanced another alternative: that the Soviets might not reply in the near future. He then expressed his belief that alternative four of telegram 2635 (supra) was the most probable answer to the note of the three Western Powers (telegram 3165, July 13, from London, not printed (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–1348)).