740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–448: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State

top secret   us urgent

1519. For the Secretary (Eyes Only). I am very grateful for and encouraged by your 889, August 3,1 which arrived just as Roberts, with obvious embarrassment, was showing me an extremely querulous and not very intelligent message from Bevin which questioned everything, implied that we had lost the fight before it was fairly started and actually directed Roberts to draft currency proposals, which of course no one here is competent to do and in which I had just declined to participate when your message was handed me.2

Knew you would appreciate fact that what we have done so far is simply to probe Soviet intentions as directed. These now seem reasonably clear and fact that Stalin has made proposal not too much out of line with our own implies that they also are feeling pinch and that, in conformity with standard Bolshevik tactics when opposition to direct action encountered, are trying the more circuitous route. And of course you are fully alive to the dangers inherent in this. If we can obtain a guarantee of our right to use the corridor as a corollary to our physical presence in Berlin (even though Soviet Government maintains that juridically we have no right to be there) believe immediate problem would be solved. However, while Stalin does not insist on delay in formation of west German government as a positive condition of removing blockade there must be no delusion on our part regarding the outstanding importance of this consideration. There was a distinct note of menace in Stalin’s statement of “the insistent desire of the Soviet Government in regard to the formation of a German government in the western zones.” I personally am convinced that when such a government is actually established the Soviet Government will clamp down again, form a government of its own, and put it in Berlin, and that while we might be able to work our way back from such a situation the chances are strongly against it. Consequently while I understand and will maintain necessity for retaining a free hand, I am pessimistic about duration of any solution we may be able to produce here unless it is possible to take advantage of Stalin’s offer of maintaining secrecy and, by dragging our feet or in some other way, to defer finalizing this matter until we can provide a facade of negotiation. [Page 1011] If not I believe we must be prepared to face an equal or more serious crisis immediately after September first, the date which Stalin obviously holds in his mind as finalizing establishment of western German government by convocation Constituent Assembly. Would appreciate your views for own information otherwise instructions contained your 889 eminently satisfactory as far as I am concerned. Since on point 2 either (a) or (b) wording acceptable to Clay, will try to combine them as last part of wording (b) might strengthen Clay’s hand a little and give him slightly more latitude. Also might be well to try to add as a prefacing phrase “without impairing quadripartite status of Berlin.”

We are marking time now waiting on London and Paris although Chataigneau has been informed his Government favorably disposed in principle.

Sent Dept 1519.

Dept pass to London 113 (Eyes Only for Douglas); Paris 229 (Eyes Only for Caffery), Berlin 276 (Eyes Only for Clay and Murphy).

  1. Supra.
  2. In telegram 3499, August 3, from London, not printed, Ambassador Douglas reported that Bevin had not yet received a full report of the conversation with Stalin, only a garbled version from Roberts. Bevin was disturbed by some points of the interview and was cabling Roberts for clarification on the matter of the London agreements and the introduction of a separate currency by the western powers which was causing economic dislocation in the Soviet Zone. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–348)