740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–1148: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

top secret

90. Eyes Only for the Secretary. Reference Moscow’s 292 to Berlin (1570 to Dept, 238 to Paris1).

Clay’s comment via Army (personal for Draper) in which I concurred follows:

Reurad W87308.2 As I understand Molotov’s proposal3 it is a demand for further abandonment of western allied position in Berlin. It takes over complete control of currency and then adds a measure long desired by Soviets which is control of Berlin exports by Soviet export agency. This would, of course, shut us off completely from any payment for imports into Berlin from western zones. It was not one of Stalin’s conditions.

“Moreover, assumption of occupation costs in Berlin for western allies by western zones is illogical and unsound. We are prepared to support Berlin economy by imports not only of food but also raw materials and are entitled to occupation costs from Berlin taxes. Otherwise we will be feeding two million Germans so they may produce for the Soviet administration.

“In exchange for all this, we are offered the return to status prior to currency reform in which we could not move military passenger trains without Soviet inspection, military freight trains without both inspection and permission, and could use highway only subject to Soviet inspection and permission. Of course, this proves again currency reform merely a pretext and the acceptance of such a status is absolutely impossible. While we had to stop our trains and convoys to avoid accepting Soviet requirements, we have not accepted it and to accept Molotov’s proposal would do so. It is unthinkable that we could accept any lifting of blockade which is not an unconditioned withdrawal of blockade measures.

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“There seems little to add to previous comment on Molotov’s requirement now that we stop western governmental measures. As you know, I am convinced that to do so would prove disastrous to our objectives in Germany and in Europe. It is the one thing I can think of which to abandon would be worse than to abandon Berlin.

“I can only suggest that we advise Molotov why we cannot accept his proposal and demand once again to see Stalin to insist on a proposal which does accord with latter’s suggestion. If these meetings fail to produce results, it seems to me we cannot lose further time and prestige in Moscow but must proceed with the United Nations route.”

A further thought occurs to me regarding tactical position. If current Moscow conversations end with the Molotov text merely disapproved by west and if that text is published by USSR, task of explaining basic issues to public may be difficult. Soviet text is plausible and to the uninitiated may appear most reasonable. Therefore I hope a revised text again presenting western viewpoint will be submitted to Molotov for the purpose of the record.4

Sent Dept 90, repeated Moscow 1 (Eyes Only Smith), Dept pass London 28 (Eyes Only Douglas), Paris 25 (Eyes Only Caffery).

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 2, p. 1024.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For the text of the Soviet “counter-draft” under reference here, see The Berlin Crisis, pp. 23–24 or Cmd. 7534, p. 26.
  4. In telegram 1589, August 11, from Moscow, not printed, Smith admitted that Clay’s view might be the right one, but added:

    “We could, of course, break off at any time but my own opinion is that general tactical line agreed upon by three Western governments is well advised, that favorable result is still possible though not probable, and that four or five more days here may still do some good and can certainly do no harm. Do not believe any loss in prestige involved. It is a long time since Molotov has heard so much plain speaking.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–1148)