The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kohler) to the Secretary of State
261. British Embassy has shown us copy their Washington Embassy’s 615, January 31 to Foreign Office London, from which appears Department puzzled by fact Stalin’s answer Kingsbury Smith question regarding solution Berlin blockade does not mention currency problem but only postponement establishment Western German Government.1
We see nothing puzzling in this. As pointed out mytel 233, January 30,2 Stalin’s reply simply goes back to Kremlin’s initial objectives last summer. As then noted in our comments on progress of Moscow conversations, Soviets evidently originally hoped obtain both postponement Western German program, and currency solution Berlin which would in effect give them economic control of city. It was only after prolonged exchanges of view that Kremlin realized Western [Page 668] powers would not give in on former and decided develop latter into major (and finally breaking) issue in order spin out negotiations indefinitely, maintaining blockade meanwhile.
There is no reason to believe Kremlin’s objectives have changed on this score, though possible that when airlift completes its difficult winter assignment and Western German Government in fact begins to take shape, Soviets may be more willing seek Berlin solution with view to endeavoring postpone latter development. Current British thinking, for example, regarding no need for haste in winding up SC experts’ work, evidently based such analysis.
We would interpret Stalin’s reply to Kingsbury Smith’s question as further indication of importance Kremlin attaches preventing Western German program. But this is nothing new. Currency problem and blockade could always have been solved overnight if we agreed to make concessions on West Germany satisfactory to Stalin.
Sent Department 261; repeated Berlin 33; London 29; Paris 41.