No. 552
Notes on the Fourth Meeting of the Ad Hoc Berlin Committee, June 30, 19521

top secret


  • State:
    • Mr. Charles E. Bohlen
    • Mr. James Riddleberger
    • Mr. Harry H. Schwartz
  • Defense:
    • Admiral Austin (Navy)
    • General Elmore (Army)
    • Colonel Harriott (Army)
    • General Harris (Air Force)
    • Mr. Charles Noyes (Office of Secretary of Defense)
  • CIA:
    • Mr. John A. Bross

Colonel Harriott reported on his trip to Germany and Berlin. The following principal points were brought out by Colonel Harriott’s report and by the discussion which followed: [Page 1276]

Combined Command—In the opinion of the U.S. military authorities the present Command arrangements in Berlin are unsatisfactory. It is “command by committee”, with a rotating chairman who would be the overall commander in the event of an emergency but who must consult the other two commandants if possible with major rule prevailing. All three commandants agree on the necessity of combined command in the event of emergency but the U.S. military authorities believe that we must have plans for a combined plan prior to an emergency.…
The U.S. Command has a crash evacuation plan which, with 24 to 48 hours warning, will give them a good chance to evacuate all American non-combatants either to the UK or to Orly by air where they become the responsibility of the Washington Liaison Group. The U.S. Command would not be able to assist in the evacuation of French and British non-combatants and is going on the assumption that the French and British have their own plans. It is probable, however, that neither the French nor the British have the capability of evacuating their own non-combatants and desire a multilateral evacuation plan. It was brought out in the discussion that if we want cooperation from the French and British on a combined command and a generally united and strong front throughout a period of tension we may have to examine further the possibility of multilateral crash evacuation plan—there being no problem of evacuation under blockade conditions.
The plans of the U.S. military authorities for either a reduced or a large scale airlift are both sound and ready.
Both British and French have some sort of a tie-in between their commands in Berlin and SHAPE. The Americans have tried, and consider it most important, to keep these matters entirely separate and all agree that this is something which should be constantly watched.
Both General Handy and General Mathewson are firmly of the opinion that force should be used only as a last resort and that no show of force should be mounted from Berlin. They point out that the Communists will always have the capability of permitting a military force to come through without molestation and then close in behind it.
The U.S. military authorities think it most important that the three powers show no sign of weakness during a period of tension and in particular that military garrisons in Berlin not be reduced during such a period.…
Although they have not analyzed NSC 1322 in detail, Generals Handy and Mathewson believe that their present directives are sufficient and they require no further directives from the Joint Chiefs.
The 60,000 East German troops are divided into 24 Soviet type divisions. They are only cadres and would need to be reorganized in order to attain an offensive capability—this is one of the moves which might give us warning of a possible attack.
Mr. Riddleberger reported that the six months “balanced” stockpile is complete except for certain industrial raw materials but there are still financial difficulties on the staggered stockpile and that as of the time of meeting there was no report on top French Government agreement on the staggered stockpile.
It is generally agreed that most signs seem to indicate that during this phase, at any rate, the Russians are concentrating on sealing off Western Berlin from Eastern Berlin and Eastern Germany rather than trying to cut communications between Western Berlin and Western Germany. It was agreed that HICOG should be asked to report on the additional economic burdens which might be imposed on East Berlin as a result.
Mr. Riddleberger reported that a survey indicated that currency manipulations in Berlin were more likely to be counter-productive, at least until such time as the sealing off process had been completed.
It was agreed that in the absence of a request for a meeting in the interim by any member the next meeting need not take place before Friday, July 11.

  1. Drafted by Schwartz on July 1. Regarding the origins and the first and second meeting of the Ad Hoc Berlin Committee, see footnote 5, Document 541. No record of the third meeting, which was held on June 20, has been found in Department of State files.
  2. Not printed, but see NSC 132/1, Document 547.