762A.00/3–2350: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany, at Frankfort1


1957. Re urtel 399 Mar 20 from Berlin,2 I agree that there may be considerable advantage in making a proposal regarding reunification of Berlin. The chances of Sov acceptance, as you say, seem remote, but I think we must be certain that proposal wld be one we cld ourselves accept. Even if not now accepted, it might figure in later negots. For this reason, I wld like to be certain that risks involved in the plans are carefully weighed and that necessary safeguards are provided for. Certain questions occur to us in this connection. Wld presence of SED members in City Assembly permit effective sabotage of city Govt? Wld fact that GDR has hdqrs in East Berlin and that Sov Zone police operate there create insuperable problem? If after considering these points, you are satisfied that initiation of proposal wld be wise, you shld take it up with Brit and Fr. Wld it not be advisable to treat this in private mtg of three Commandants in order to minimize any leak which might easily result from discussion at regular mtg?

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Any proposal made by Magistrat shld emphasize reunification of the city, making elections a vehicle for achieving this. The conditions which you mention, such as effective abolition of veto in a reformed Kommandatura, supervision of elections, and the like, are essential and shld be stated at the outset. Otherwise, we wld get into position of attaching conditions after proposal had been made. For this reason, res shld request that the Western Commandants approach Sov Commandant with proposal to unify the city by authorizing new elections but only under conditions which wld permit newly elected Govt to function effectively. With this as a basis, Commandants cld then make our conditions in communicating proposal by letter to Sovs. If matter does go forward, we wld wish to have opportunity to examine both docs before they were adopted.

This entire matter was gone into in considerable detail during Paris mtg of CFM last spring and positions which U.S. took at that time were ones which I agreed upon with Bevin and Schuman. You shld, therefore, be guided by these positions, except that Reuter’s proposal to base a new Govt on 1948 constitution is probably preferable to our proposal last year. This involved using the 1946 temporary constitution with the deletion of Art 36.

The positions which we took are incorporated in docs which I believe are available to you. They are basically docs 10, 18, 19 and 21 of conference docs series. Minutes of discussions in CFM shld also be of value to you.3 CFM docs did not, of course, take into account subsequent creation of GDR.

There are two other points which I think are of importance:

The proposals which Amer delegation submitted to CFM did not deal with currency question. It was our feeling that this question cld be solved only if polit unity of city were achieved and then only by action of city govt. The Amer position on this was set forth in doc entitled “Berlin Currency Settlement,” and which may be further identified as USDel Working Paper 24/Rev–1, June 7, 19494 Riddleberger5 has a copy of this. I discussed this doc with Bevin and Schuman. While there was, I think, gen agreement on the ideas incorporated in it, it was never specifically agreed for submission to Sovs. It seems to me essential that we avoid becoming again engaged in discussions on currency and I see no reason why initial proposal need make any mention of the problem.
I agree with your comment that a proposal of the kind you have in mind wld fall within terms of Paris communiqué regarding normalization of the life of Berlin and that it cld appropriately be dealt with by occupation authorities. I also agree that it wld be desirable to keep it at Commandants’ level. If Sov Commandant shld take position [Page 835] that he does not have authority to deal with matter, it wld seem to me to be clearly within the authority of Sov Zone Commander and three Western High Commissioners. If train of events shld push subj onto govtl level, it shld be handled by note exchange rather than a mtg as I wld not wish to have matter develop in such a way as to involve us in another fruitless CFM mtg on this subj.

  1. Repeated to Berlin as 76.
  2. Not printed; in it McCloy reported his feeling that the time had come for some positive move concerning Berlin city-wide elections, not because he felt the Soviet authorities would agree to holding them, but because such a move would recapture the propaganda initiative and good capital could be made out of such a direct proposal to the Soviets. This move had been discussed in confidence with Mayor Reuter who was enthusiastic about it and felt there would be no difficulty in obtaining immediate City Assembly approval of a resolution addressed to the Commandants along these lines. (762.00/3–2050)
  3. Regarding these documents and the minutes of meetings, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, pp. 913 ff.
  4. Not printed; a copy of this paper can be found in CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 143: USDel Working Paper Series.
  5. James W. Riddleberger, Director of Political Affairs, Office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.