149. Telegram From the Office of the High Commissioner for Germany to the Department of State1
3077. For Lyon from Conant. Have just returned four-day visit Berlin. Among others saw Amrehn, Hertz, Lemmer,2 four leading bankers, American newspaper correspondents and discussed Autobahn fees several times with Parkman and Honnen. Political leaders are inclined be more nervous than industrial community. Present situation in Berlin psychologically still good and no cause for worry. Believe, however, that if situation remains in present status for much more than week, signs of worry would increase and would be fanned by newspapers which are beginning to be critical of Berlin govt and Allies.
As you are aware, fact of SPD govt Berlin and CDU in FedRep have given some groups Berlin and FedRep feeling that settlement road tax problem being hindered by party political considerations. While I do not subscribe to such views, I think they are real element in situation.
It would be my recommendation that if we receive no reply from Pushkin by Wed,3 Brit and Fr should be immediately consulted London and Paris with idea making démarche in Moscow jointly, preferably without immediate publicity, but with info given to Chanc and Suhr that such a step was made. Anticipating Moscow note we now beginning drafting with Fr and Brit. In view desirability stepped up note schedule, I now believe drafting should be done in Bonn rather than capitals.
In note to Moscow I believe we should stress Sov 1949 obligations to maintain normal access to Berlin but should repeat demands [Page 363] for lowering tolls without going into discussion of proper GER negotiating channels.
If in its reply Moscow argues that our giving up occupation status FedRep provides justification their doing exactly same, I would think following line argumentation could be made privately and eventually publicly. Sovs cannot delegate to any GER authority or group however constituted their international commitment in re to free access Berlin. Therefore, while we could not perhaps sanction their commitment in re to fees between, let us say, Hof and Leipzig, we would maintain they must themselves continue to control and be responsible for normal functioning traffic three main roads to Berlin and would propose to them quadripartite status of these roads and support of their upkeep.
Whether any of above lines of action recommend themselves to Dept, I should report that Brit Commandant Oliver, with whom I discussed these matters briefly, was essentially thinking along my lines. Did not venture any discussion these points with Gers. Several of GER bankers suggested whole matter was matter of business trading and suggested we could buy off Russians in Moscow by some sort of minor economic concession. This I do not recommend, but I am reporting only to indicate attitudes of some Berlin industrialists.
I think there should be no talk publicly and very little privately of measures that would smack of trying to get around a blockade. There is little talk in Berlin of this being a blockade. They feel it is much more question of blackmail. Therefore plans for using military trucks and trains for commercial freight should not now be actively discussed between three occupying powers as leak of such ideas might have adverse effect on morale of Berlin.
In meantime we are putting pressure on FedRep to continue to strengthen counter measures on interzonal trade along lines of previous telegrams. But in addition to this, I believe matter of principle should be settled as 1951 protest, although it solved immed problem increased road tax, did leave ambiguous question of Sov responsibility insure normal access. Will have especially beneficial effect Berlin politically and psychologically if we can elicit Sov admission continued four power responsibility Berlin.
Since dictating above, I have seen Chanc and told him of my personal opinion as to proper procedure if Pushkin fails to reply or gives evasive reply. He would welcome prompt action bringing this matter to attention Moscow. He will have cabinet meeting in Berlin next Tues April 26. It would be highly important if it were clear that progress were being made in solution of problem of fees on Autobahn. Westrick in conversation this noon emphasized this point. Therefore I hope Wash will be prepared take up with London and [Page 364] Paris not later than Wednesday démarche in Moscow Thurs or Fri this week if Pushkin has not replied by that time.
On mentioning to Chanc possibility of more vigorous action his govt on interzonal trade, he referred me to Westrick, whom I have just seen. Westrick is pessimistic about effectiveness their measures and is much disturbed about counter-measures from East affecting particularly delivery of brown coal brickets. He promises however to have at least slowing-down action on deliveries to take place at once. We are exploring further what seems to be disagreement on facts in regard to effectiveness countermeasures by FedRep on interzonal trade.4
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/4–1855. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Paris, London, Berlin, and Moscow.↩
- The Deputy Mayor of Berlin, Special Assistant to the Mayor for economic and financial questions, and Head of the CDU faction in the Berlin House of Representatives, respectively.↩
- April 20.↩
- On April 20, the Department of State cabled Bonn its general agreement with the Allied approach to Moscow. (Telegram 2870 to Bonn; Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/4–1855)↩