156. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany1

3153. Paris pass Conant. Following Department’s views on Allied position talks with Pushkin and general Berlin highway situation (Bonn’s 3358 rptd Berlin 572 Moscow 111).2

Agree responsibility for access Berlin must be placed on Soviets. Should Pushkin attempt evade responsibility on grounds “GDR sovereignty,” should point out that Soviets in announcement of March 25, 19543 purporting give GDR sovereignty retained powers concerning obligations incumbent upon them and for questions coming from quadripartite decisions regarding Germany. Could tell Soviets we consider East Germans merely acting as agents Soviets in view Soviet obligations.

On question payments for upkeep roads, suggest Soviets be told Federal Republic willing bear reasonable and fairly assessed share such costs. In order arrive sound estimates, Allies desire send military engineer team to survey roads in question. If proposal rejected could then fall back on quadripartite team. Implication should be avoided Allies considering payment for any Allied traffic. This would be conceding something even Soviets not presently attempting press and might set unwholesome and dangerous precedent affecting all Allied surface access Berlin. Should Federal Republic require financial assistance, this could be worked out between Allies and Federal Republic and is of no concern to Soviets.

Agree payments should be continued until Allied-Federal Republic agreement on further steps reached. In this connection believe, as previously stated, full use other facilities, e.g., rail, barge, must be made. Department informed that for first nine months 1954, almost 700 train paths not used. If trend has continued, believe rail could take up substantial amount of slack by full use 13 paths daily.

Re Bonn’s 32774 use of military trucks being reviewed here with Defense. Allies should begin planning now for action (including [Page 371] employing Allied trucks) to take in event talks with Soviets, Berlin or Moscow unproductive and Defense is authorizing USCINCEUR to undertake such planning with you at your request. On timing such planning, believe general discussions can begin immediately although questions relating possible use of force should not be proposed British and French until further notice.

Department further believes West German measures designed put pressure East Zone should continue apace with current Allied activity so that communists will have incentive to agree reasonable settlement. By time we may find it necessary resort to use military trucks or airlift, Federal Republic should have exhausted all counter-measures at its command.

We assume much of above will be dependent upon evaluation of meeting with Pushkin and whether prospects reasonable settlement without relatively drastic Allied measures seem good.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 962A.7162B/5–355. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Blumberg; cleared with Lyon, Stoessel, Elbrick, and the Department of Defense; and approved by Murphy. Repeated to Berlin, Heidelberg, Moscow, London, and Paris.
  2. Telegram 3358 offered a variety of proposals for the meeting with Pushkin or further negotiations in Moscow concerning the tolls. (Ibid., 962A.7162B/5–355)
  3. Regarding this announcement, see telegram 1139, March 26, 1954, Foreign Relations,, 1952–1954, vol. VII, Part 2, p. 1675.
  4. Telegram 3277 noted that the Western Powers must be prepared to use military vehicles to transport goods to Berlin if no satisfaction was obtained from the Soviets. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/4–2955)