740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–648: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union 1

top secret   us urgent

910. For the Ambassador (Eyes Only). We entirely agree with your estimate of conversation with Molotov and consider that you took exactly the right attitude. We feel it is absolutely essential that there should be no weakening in the position of the Western Powers in the face of these obvious Soviet tactics. Bevin also shares this view and Massigli tells Douglas that he is confident his Government will take the same position.

If the Soviet counterdraft, as we anticipate, departs in any important particular from the lines of the proposed announcement agreed to by the Three Powers,2 presented to Molotov last night, you should inform him that there has obviously been a decided change in the Soviet attitude since your discussion with Stalin on Monday night as the new Soviet counterdraft departs materially from the basic formula Stalin suggested and that while you will submit this new Soviet counterdraft to your Government, you are confident it will not prove acceptable.

In your next discussion with Molotov, we feel there are three fundamental points which must be brought home with great firmness to the Soviet Government.

The United States (U.K.–France) are in Berlin by right and not by Soviet sufferance. The US Government (U.K.–France) therefore intend not only to stay in Berlin but to maintain their rights and to discharge their obligation in regard to Greater Berlin.
The US Government (U.K.–French) cannot accept therefore any arrangement as to currency in Berlin which would in effect turn over to the Soviet authorities economic or other control of the western sectors which is the responsibility of the US Government (the three Governments) to exercise.
The US Government (U.K.–French) cannot accept as any precondition for negotiation the suspension or modification of any measures in force or contemplated for the Western Zones.

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As regards the currency in Berlin, it should be obvious that unless it is the Soviet intention to utilize the introduction of the Soviet mark as a device for taking over economic control of the western sectors of Berlin, certain practical arrangements to safeguard the rights and obligations of the Western Powers in Berlin are necessary before the Soviet mark can be accepted as sole currency. This point should be stressed with Molotov and you might consider asking him bluntly the question whether or not it is the Soviet intention to take over unilateral control of the western sectors through the medium of the Soviet mark. If he denies any such intention, then it should be difficult for him to deny the necessity of the practical arrangements covering the points set forth in our 889.3 If he admits this is their intention or merely reiterates that Berlin is part of the Soviet zone, you should make it clear that this is inadmissible and cannot be accepted for the reasons set forth in point two above. Such action could permit substitution of another form of duress for the blockade. Our proposed arrangements are orderly and designed to prevent a currency war in Berlin. If deadlocked on the question of “simultaneous action” we could agree as stated in our 889 to a brief delay to permit the Military Commanders to work out the necessary details.

We feel it would be dangerous to raise or even discuss reported Soviet moves in their zone to set up a separate Government or to draw up a separate constitution. To raise this point might offer Molotov the opportunity to suggest that both sides should cancel on an equal basis all such measures in their respective zones as a preliminary step to Four Power negotiations. We feel it probable that the Soviets have permitted the announcement of such measures in their zone precisely for this purpose. If Molotov himself should raise the point with this in view, it might be wise for you to avoid discussion on the grounds that any such measures are not germane to the central issue which is the blockade measures still in force in Berlin.

It is probable that the Soviet counterdraft and Molotov in any discussion will emphasize the point that our agreed draft introduced new conditions in connection with the Soviet currency. You could point out in rebuttal the considerations in regard to currency referred to above and also your statement to Stalin (your 1508, August 34) to the effect that none of the representatives in Moscow were experts on currency and could not discuss the detailed arrangements necessary on this point.

As to the London Decisions, while making it absolutely clear that we will undertake no commitment, direct or indirect, for the suspension or modification of these measures as a pre-condition for negotiation, [Page 1023] you might repeat your statement to Molotov as reported in your 15445 on this point emphasizing that these measures are not only not final in themselves but do not in any sense preclude Four Power discussions and agreement on Germany. You might cite the portion of the communiqué issued after the London discussion on June 76 which states in one place “The delegations consider that the people in the (German) states will wish to establish a constitution with provisions which will allow all the German states to subscribe as soon as circumstances permit.” Further, the last paragraph of the communiqué states: “The present recommendations, which in no way preclude and on the contrary should facilitate eventual Four Power agreement on the German problem, are designed to solve the urgent political and economic problems arising out of the present situation in Germany. Because of the previous failure to reach comprehensive Four Power decisions on Germany, the measures recommended mark a step forward in the policy which the Powers represented at these talks are determined to follow with respect to the economic reconstruction of Western Europe, including Germany, and with respect to the establishment of a basis for the participation of a democratic Germany in the community of free peoples.” You might point out that Soviet insistence on this point would therefore obstruct rather than facilitate Four Power negotiations.7

We feel there is a certain danger in becoming involved in protracted negotiations with Molotov on the currency or other questions of substance in view of our declared determination not to negotiate under pressure of the blockade. You are therefore authorized in your discretion to ask for an interview with Stalin at any point that you consider this wise in order to avoid protracted negotiations with Molotov.

  1. Repeated to London as 3131, Paris as 3024, and Berlin as 1403.
  2. Transmitted in telegram 1528, August 5, from Moscow, p. 1016.
  3. August 3, p. 1008.
  4. Ante, p. 999.
  5. Supra.
  6. Ante, p. 313.
  7. In telegram 911, August 7, to Moscow, not printed, the Department of State informed Ambassador Smith that it could not accept postponement of the implementation of the decisions of the London Conference on Germany as a condition for agreement on Berlin. Should the Soviet Government, however, insist that its view on postponement he made a part of any announcement on Berlin, the Department would reluctantly agree provided language was added to such announcement explaining that the decisions reached at the London Conference on Germany had hot precluded subsequent Four Power agreements and suspension of the implementation of the decisions could not be acceptable as a condition of the agreement to negotiate about Berlin. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–648)