762B.00/1–2053: Telegram

No. 706
The Director of the Berlin Element, HICOG (Lyon) to the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany, at Bonn 1


1163. From EAD. Reference: Berlin/EAD telegram BN–1570,2 January 5, pouched Bonn, Department, London, Paris, Moscow.

Following on heels For Min Dertinger’s New Years article (see final paragraph reftel) playing up independent, sovereign status GDR, below-quoted passage from January 14 Neues Deutschland editorial represents boldest assertion yet come to our attention by SED or other GDR organ or official of thesis GDR is sovereign state. Even goes so far as to imply Soviets not exercising control functions over GDR Government.

Referring to recent statement by Adenauer that Soviet Union “not prepared give up its zone voluntarily”, editorial states:

“Everyone knows that already in 1949 there was no longer a Soviet zone, but a sovereign German Democratic Republic, and that Soviet troops only located there still because Americans and Adenauer stubbornly oppose withdrawal all occupation troops from all of Germany. What does it mean, the Soviet Union is ‘not prepared’ to give up her ‘zone’? No—the German patriots from East and West are not prepared to forfeit the basis of their national liberation struggle, the GDR .…”3

Furthermore, most recent Soviet action containing potentially serious implication in direction GDR sovereignty is General Chuikov’s statement to acting High Commissioner Reber inferring that case US soldiers Night and Michalowski under jurisdiction GDR rather than Soviet authorities (see final sentence paragraph 4 Berlin telegram January 16 from Reber sent Department 1057, repeated Bonn 145, Moscow 144).4

[Page 1573]

Soviet authorities have consistently tried sustain contradictory policy of regarding selves as supreme authority in GDR and simultaneously encouraging GDR Government by its propaganda and actions to regard itself as fully sovereign. At same time Soviets have stepped up campaign to build case that West Powers have broken Potsdam and quadripartite agreements re status Berlin. Political significance this tactic obvious.

Recognize “sovereignty” question extremely thorny one, involving considerations affecting West as well as East Germany. Nevertheless, seems not impossible that issue could be manipulated advantageously at this time.

From psychological warfare point of view, consideration might be given to having our media treat foregoing Neues Deutschland statement in context recent GDR actions re Berlin in manner challenging Soviets explain whether SED organ in fact reflects official Soviet position that it no longer exercises control functions. Making use ND editorial in proper context could lead to some confusion and disagreement between SED and Soviet authorities at time when developments in GDR influx with uncertainty and fear rife even within SED.

In general believe West should grasp every opportunity from now on to build up record through media and note exchange that contractuals do not change quadripartite status Berlin; that Allies have adhered to these quadripartite agreements for purpose keeping way open for four-power agreement on unification and peace treaty for Germany acceptable to freely elected representatives German people; and that they expect Soviets and German authorities under their control do likewise, or realize failure to do so will free hands Allies act as they deem to be in their and German people’s best interest.

Manner in which events are moving in GDR give ample reason believe that after ratification contractuals West may have to deal bolder encroachments by GDR authority, challenging status Allies in Berlin and calling for firm actions by West. Latter in turn will require support world-wide popular opinion which, if not well prepared in advance, may be lacking.

  1. Repeated to Washington, Moscow, London, and Paris. The source text is the copy in Department of State files.
  2. This telegram transmitted summaries of addresses and statements by Pieck, Grotewohl, Dertinger, and members of the SED Central Committee and the Democratic Bloc of Greater Berlin. (762B.00/1–553)
  3. Ellipsis in the source text.
  4. Private Raymond V. Michalowski and Lieutenant Night, who were claimed by the GDR authorities to have sought asylum in the Soviet Zone, were placed in the custody of GDR police on Nov. 26, 1952. U.S. authorities claimed that they were seized while guarding a boxcar. Both were released on May 19, 1953. The telegram under reference transmitted an account of an interview between Lyon and Chuikov on this and several other subjects. (762.0221/1–1653)