740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–149

Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of German Political Affairs (Laukhuff) to the Acting Director of the Office of German and Austrian Affairs (Murphy)1


Subject: Berlin’s status in the new Federal Republic.

The Germans, and especially the Berliners, appear to be maintaining a steady pressure on us to permit Berlin to enter the new Federal Republic as a full member, with the status of a Land and full representation and voting rights. This question should be reexamined and the following thoughts are submitted for your use in case you wish to discuss the question afresh in the Department.

There are five arguments in favor of permitting full membership in the republic for Berlin.

Such permission would elicit a very favorable political response in Berlin and to a lesser extent in Western Germany, and coming at [Page 369] this time would be most helpful in counteracting the unfavorable effect of three actions which we have taken or are about to take. These three actions are the announced removal of the main part of our headquarters to Frankfort, the withdrawal of the 16th infantry without replacement (according to press reports), and the imminent reduction of the air lift almost to the vanishing point. While each of these three actions may be fully justifiable and capable of explanation, it must be recognized that each is also capable of adverse exploitation by Communist propaganda media and in so far as they are already known appear to have had a depressing effect at least in Berlin.
Such permission would constitute recognition and reward for the political steadfastness and growth of the Berliners during the past year and would indicate that it really is possible for Germans to “work their way back”, so to speak. This is an important psychological point. We have said on innumerable occasions that the Germans must prove that they are fit to be taken back into polite international society. At some point or other we must begin to do the taking back if this half-promise is ever to become anything more than a carrot dangling from the end of the stick ahead of a rabbit.
Full participation by Berlin would strengthen the more democratic elements in the new federal government. These elements will need all the strength they can get. There is precious little in the political parties in Western Germany to give us any great confidence about the future attitude of the German government. The outlook of the Berliners is more sane and more sound than that of any other Germans and we ought to welcome full Berlin representation in the new Parliament. It is of little consequence that Berlin participation would probably strengthen the SPD. We have very little to look for from the national leadership of the SPD, but we likewise have little or nothing to look for from the national leadership of the CDUCSU.
Such permission for Berlin would give a practical touch to our often-repeated statements that we look upon the new federal government in the West as a means toward the eventual reunification of Germany. We could start with Berlin. If our statements are to have any serious propaganda value they ought to be followed up by some constructive action. In this way we would advance the federal republic into the very heart of the Soviet zone.
Finally the German leaders in Berlin themselves insist (and perhaps they are in a better position to judge than we are) that admission of Berlin to the republic would bolster the hope of Germans in the Soviet zone and would have favorable repercussions even further behind the Iron Curtain.

On the other hand the arguments against permitting Berlin to join the federal republic appear to be three in number.

It is contended that the practical difficulties arising out of Berlin’s isolated geographic position and special political and economic conditions would be exceedingly troublesome. Doubtless they would be troublesome, but they have been through all these months when we have had to struggle with them in order to govern Berlin more or less [Page 370] as a part of Western Germany. No doubt they could be overcome one by one on a practical basis as they would arise. The federal legislation would have to take account of Berlin’s special position.

The main argument of the opponents of this proposal is that we have derived our rights in Berlin from its special status as a quadripartite city and that we have consistently maintained that it should again be governed as a unified quadripartite city. This argument is perhaps unduly legalistic. Whatever our rights in Berlin are, they have been disregarded by the Soviets under any and all circumstances. The circumstances in Berlin are not now what they were when we originally went, but that has not induced us and cannot induce us to abandon the city. The Soviets have disregarded our rights when the city was ostensibly under four-power control, they have disregarded our rights all during the blockade when they were denying vigourously that it was a quadripartite city and they will continue to disregard our rights whether we hang on to the fiction of quadripartite control or whether we take steps which we believe to be warranted and necessitated by the actual circumstances.

It is improbable that it will ever again be possible or desirable to reestablish any real measure of quadripartite control. That being the case, it can be argued that we have the privilege and the duty, exactly as we had in Western Germany to take those steps which seem best suited to advance the political and economic well-being of the areas under our control and to advance our larger and long-range political objectives. It is difficult to see how the joining of the Western sectors of Berlin to the federal republic could jeopardize our position or make the difficulties any greater than they already are.

Possibly as a third point there might be mentioned the fact that the French are apparently strongly opposed to any close tie-up of Berlin with the West. It is not necessary to examine the reasons for the French opposition which are perhaps more emotional than rational. At any rate the fact of French opposition should not influence us in our own attitude. It may be that French opposition would make the proposal impossible of fulfillment but if the proposal is sound we ought to exert our influence on its behalf.


I conclude that the arguments in favor outweigh the arguments against. This is one of those questions which shows signs of following a course all too familiar from past experience in Germany. We are in danger of opposing this project for a considerable period of time but finding ourselves in the end obliged to give way before the pressure of stronger political forces. The only result of that pattern of events is that we create a lot of irritation along the way and are eventually represented as having given way under pressure. If the situation is as analyzed above, it seems that it would be politically wiser to get some credit this time for advocating a policy in advance of its consummation.

  1. The memorandum was initialed by Murphy.