143. Telegram From the Berlin Element, HICOG, to the Office of the High Commissioner for Germany, at Bonn1

654. Heidelberg for USAREUR. Paris for CINCEUR. In the light of developments reported Bonn’s 28592 and assuming that no further harassing measures are taken, our view of how allies and Germans should proceed deal with problem of increased highway tolls is as follows:

Now that Allies have protested to Soviets, we believe a period up to roughly three weeks should be allowed for West Germans to try to negotiate settlement highway tolls through Interzonal Trade Office. This length of time probably unavoidable (a) in order allow Soviet and GDR bureaucracy take account Allied protests, (b) because GDR would for reasons prestige refuse back down immediately (in 1951 GDR backed down after twenty days).
While negotiating tactics and weapons must be left to West Germans, we believe they should avoid overt drastic measures such as increased demurrage charges on GDR cargoes, steps to impose levies on IZT. Administrative delays in IZT plus intimations of withholding FedRep exports would seem advisable for tactical purposes depending on progress negotiations. Allies and West Germans should avoid initiating any change in flow or pattern of traffic between FedRep and West Berlin, i.e. expanding airlift, using military convoys or trucks for commercial purposes, shifting traffic to rail, et cetera.
If no progress made in negotiations this period, consideration should then be given to more drastic countermeasures. Since such [Page 354] steps might well provoke more GDR measures and bring situation closer to real blockade, these steps should not be taken until plans for meeting real blockade conditions are fully decided upon.
Of course, if GDR harasses other means transport or interferes further with Autobahn traffic situation would enter critical stage earlier.
USCMB concurs. French and British here seem generally in accord.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 962A.7162B/4–255. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Paris, Moscow, Heidelberg, and Washington. The source text is the Department of State copy.
  2. Telegram 2859 reported that despite pretensions by the East German economic experts that the tolls were levied for economic reasons, the interzonal trade experts from the Federal Ministry of Economics had returned from a meeting with their East German counterparts convinced that the measures were purely political and had called for early West German and Allied counteraction. (Ibid., 962A.7162B/4–155)