740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–448: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union

top secret   us urgent

892.1 For the Ambassador Eyes Only.

I. With reference to British attitude described urniact 15192 we sent following to Douglas in telecon with him this afternoon:3

“We are disturbed at Bevin’s attitude for the following reasons which you can use if you perceive no objection in talking to Bevin.

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As we estimate the situation, Stalin is near accepting what we hope to achieve through informal discussions.

We fully recognize that the question of currency must be clarified in order to avoid any possibility of the Soviets controlling the city of Berlin through use of currency. Our 8894 to Smith contains our proposals for safeguarding the currency situation and have received the approval of the Army and Clay. If the currency matter can be straightened out to our satisfaction, we feel that points one and three of Stalin’s proposal represent exactly what we hoped to obtain through oral discussions.

We agree with Smith’s evaluation in his 1519 (to you 113) as to Stalin’s remarks in regard to West German Government. We believe that if and when four-power negotiations begin Stalin’s statement requoted by Smith means that they will insist upon the London measures being halted while negotiations are on.

Based on past experience, it is probable that at next meeting Stalin will be very much tougher, having touched base with the Politburo. It is absolutely essential at this meeting that the three Western Powers stand firm on previous positions. For the same reason we feel it would be a mistake to add any new conditions (apart from elaboration of currency matter) to formula for announcement suggested at first meeting. To do so would provide Stalin with opportunity to charge that previous conversation had been useless and to seek, in line with Politburo reaction, concessions from west, particularly in regard to suspension of West Zone Government. If, however, three Western Powers stand firm without adding entirely new considerations, past experience would indicate that Stalin will adhere to the proposals he made at first meeting. We therefore feel it important that all that has been accomplished so far in oral discussions not be lost by inability to close on terms of announcement at next meeting. We feel we would only be bound by terms of announcement and not by anything Stalin may have said in conversation although we must regard such statements as important indication of Soviet objectives and future intentions in regard to Germany”.

II. With reference to London’s 174 to Moscow5 we commented as follows in telecon with Douglas:

“As our 839 to Smith indicates it is also our preferred position to have blockade lifted simultaneously with announcement. We have given Smith latitude however to accept reference to military commanders for 48 hours to work out safeguards on currency. We feel time limit would guard against protracted negotiations on currency. We feel if we insist Soviets lift blockade on our promise to accept Soviet mark, they will counter with proposal to accept promise for promise or conversely performance for performance. We therefore hope that Roberts can be given same latitude as Smith with strong emphasis on preference lifting of blockade on announcement.

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We feel basic US, UK positions very close and we are prepared to let Smith, and Roberts work out drafting and tactics, subject of course to final approval by governments. No other comments on British draft instructions to Roberts”.

III. Regarding intimation in urtel 15096 that you might be able to obtain assurance from Soviets that blockade would not be reimposed, we feel it would be inadvisable to press this point as an additional demand. A request for an assurance of this kind might be construed as casting doubt on validity of our basic right of free access. Once blockade is lifted the Soviets would have to bear a heavier onus for its reimposition and assume responsibility for the countermeasures we may find it necessary to take from the start. You will note how the British handle this general question in their draft of statement in London’s 174 by stating “free communications shall be maintained” We would be well satisfied if we could obtain such wording in statement.7

  1. Repeated to London as 3082, Paris as 2980, and Berlin as 1371.
  2. August 3, p. 1010.
  3. Not printed; a record of this telecon is in file 740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–3048.
  4. Telegram dated August 3, p. 1008.
  5. Not printed; it reported the strong British preference for “… agreement to the lifting of the blockade simultaneously with the announcement of acceptance, in principle of the introduction and circulation of Soviet currency in Berlin . . . .” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–448)
  6. Ante, p. 1006.
  7. In telegram 3513 (repeated to Moscow as 174), August 4, from London, not printed, Douglas transmitted the British draft of the statement on Berlin which Bevin was sending to Roberts in Moscow (740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–448). On the same day, in telegram 1521, from Moscow, not printed, Smith reported a draft of the same announcement, which had been agreed to by the representatives of the three western powers in Moscow before Roberts had received Bevin’s draft (740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–448). Subsequently these two drafts were revised and combined by the western representatives in Moscow. For the text of the final draft, see telegram 1528, August 5, from Moscow, infra.