762A.00/9–1153: Telegram

No. 585
The Acting Secretary of State to the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany, at Bonn1


897. We note with concern possibility reported Berlin’s 346 to Dept 394 to Bonn2 that as aftermath Bundestag election Berlin coalition govt might be broken-up and Reuter replaced. Resultant loss of unified strength and stability Berlin Govt, we feel could only be detrimental to maintenance this exposed and key outpost of freedom behind Iron Curtain.

Since Chancellor’s attitude may reportedly determine whether attempts actually made unseat Berlin coalition suggest you should seek first appropriate opportunity approach him informally on this subject. Among points you could make might be following: We do not propose interfere in any way with Chancellor’s decisions re internal German politics. In light however our special interests and responsibilities re Berlin and consideration which Chancellor may be giving Berlin affairs he might be interested in our views. As isolated and frequently harassed outpost, Berlin’s requirements and conditions seem to us rather different from those in Federal Republic. [Page 1361] We continue regard broad coalition govt in Berlin as highly desirable in maintaining strength and stability of city against Soviet pressures. We believe present coalition has good record in helping maintain Berlin. Likewise we feel Reuter with support all major parties has done excellent job and we have been able work well with him. Thus far Reuter has maintained somewhat precarious balancing of coalition as well as within his party. If coalition should now be broken ultimate effect might be polarization of two democratic political camps in West Berlin with SPD personalities not of moderate Reuter type coming to fore on SPD side. To find ready replacement for Reuter with comparable knowledge and experience in countering Soviets would seem difficult and we would be sorry to see in his place someone less dynamic who might flinch and waver under Red threats. We have noted Soviet Zone publications (e.g. Neues Deutschland Sept 10) have called on Berliners smash Reuter coalition. It has been apparent all along that no Berlin personality is feared and so thoroughly hated by Soviets as Reuter. He seems to have become obnoxious symbol of their difficulties re Berlin and evidently Soviet Zone authorities regard break-up of coalition as helpful to them.

In addition to approaching Chancellor we suggest Berlin Element seek appropriately to put brakes on any attempts at replacement of coalition, through informal conversations (using above arguments and also stressing Reuter’s great prestige in US) with appropriate functionaries while at same time seeking avoid impression interference or pressure in Berlin politics.3

  1. Drafted by Carlson and cleared by Bonbright, Matthews, and Lewis. Repeated to Berlin.
  2. Telegram 346 reported that while the effect of the Federal elections on Sept. 6 on Berlin would be hard to predict, it was already clear that the Berlin coalition government would be under increasing attack in the coming months. (762A.00/9–1153)
  3. On Sept. 18 Lyon reported that he had been doing exactly what was suggested in this paragraph, but stated that he shared the view that the fate of the Berlin coalition lay predominantly in Chancellor Adenauer’s hands. (Telegram 373 from Berlin, 762A.00/9–1853)