166. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State1

34. Refer Deptel 19 repeated Berlin 1.2 From Deptel 19 July 2 it seems evident that Dept has misunderstood FedRep tactics in discussion of road tolls. Basically, idea in linking IZT and transport tolls is effort to bring economic pressures more directly to bear on solution of Autobahn tolls problem.

FedRep’s decision to insist that any further transport talks be tied directly to IZT discussions followed GDR unilateral terminating of transport talks on June 4th with announcement of slight reduction in tolls. At that time FedRep’s von Dorrer asked if further discussions were possible looking toward lump sum payment and fixing of [Page 389] road maintenance figure which FedRep could find acceptable. He was told that slightly reduced June 10 toll rate was only solution which GDR could find acceptable. FedRep transport officials subsequently had no taste for approaching a slammed door and tactic was developed at FedRep cabinet level to approach GDR next through IZT channels and establish explicit relationship between IZT and further toll reduction. (See Embassy despatch 27413 re this and related points.) This approach was made by Krautwig with apparent success as reported in Berlin’s 806 to Dept.4 At the time FedRep decided above tactic, US, UK, and French Embassies were advised and concerned.

Fact that tactic has not yet brought about new transport talks does not seem to us to invalidate approach. FedRep did talk previously [with GDR and?] avoided step of having East-West transport officials talk. FedRep officials discussed toll problems in good faith, and were prepared to discuss further when GDR suddenly ended talks. We feel that FedRep is on good and potentially productive grounds in insisting that any further transport discussions take place jointly with IZT where they have real bargaining weapons in steel and coke.

Furthermore, our understanding is that FedRep position is sufficiently flexible to take advantage of any GDR desire to resume direct transport talks. Essential point of FedRep tactics is to refuse to resume IZT talks, which GDR is most anxious to utilize for resumption full-scale trade, until such time as latter indicates that progress can be made toward satisfactory solution of road tolls question. Statement in reftel that “present tactics place FedRep in position refusing discuss road tolls when GDR has offered do so”, is incorrect; it is GDR which is refusing to discuss road tolls.

FedRep has been informed of sense 3655 and 3701,5 and we believe they have been encouraged thereby to persist in what we regard as strongest possible exercise of economic pressures short of denunciation [Page 390] IZT trade agreement and total suspension shipments to and from East Zone.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 962A.7162B/7–555. Confidential. Repeated to Berlin.
  2. Telegram 19 stated that the Department of State did not understand the motives underlying West Germany’s tactics in discussing the tolls, in particular why the Federal Republic insisted on joint discussions of trade and tolls. (Ibid., 962A.7162B/7–255)
  3. Despatch 2741 reviewed the countermeasures taken by the Federal Republic in the dispute over tolls. (Ibid., 462A.62B41/6–2755)
  4. Telegram 806 reported that a meeting between East and West German representatives had been set for June 30 or July 1 to discuss tolls and interzonal trade. The East Germans subsequently refused to meet at all for the joint discussions. (Ibid., 962A.7162B/6–1555)
  5. Telegram 3655 noted that the meeting with Molotov on June 20 had been less negative than the one in Vienna on May 14, and that this set the stage for the Federal Republic to press forward with its discussions with the German Democratic Republic. (Ibid., 962A.7262B/6–2155) Telegram 3701 asked for a report on the status of the East-West German talks. (Ibid., 962A.7262B/6–2855)
  6. On July 16, Parkman reported that further talks had been thwarted by East German demands for preconditions before meeting on the question of tolls. (Telegram 47 from Berlin; ibid., 962A.7262B/7–1655) On July 28, he reported further that the Federal Republic had decided not to pursue the question further until Adenauer returned from his visit to Moscow in September. (Telegram 85 from Berlin; ibid., 962A.7262B/7–2855)