225. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany 1

1504. Re Bonn’s 212 to Berlin, repeated Department 1766 Moscow 897.2 Department has not yet received full report of General Dasher’s conversation with Dibrova. However, on basis of information available, we have serious doubt as to desirability addressing question regarding status of East Sector to Dibrova and requesting Soviet Government’s views. Appears to us this most likely to result in affirmation of position that East Zone status has been changed, and that, once this position formally taken by Soviet Government, further measures in direction of incorporation Soviet Sector into Soviet Zone may follow. It is not in Western interest to have any change made in existing factual situation re Soviet Sector which would prejudice its present role in providing main point of contact between East Zone population and Western world. Obviously if Soviets consider it in their interest to do so, they will change it. However we see no point in forcing them into public position which would commit them to follow that course.

In view of heavy publicity which has been given to Dibrova statement to General Dasher, we must of course make clear that our position re GDR and continued validity of Four-Power Agreements on status Berlin as previously stated remains unchanged. However, [Page 549] primary emphasis in further communication Soviets should in Department’s view be placed on wholly unwarranted treatment of American nationals involved in original incident. It appears to us that this should be opening and principal theme of any communication to Pushkin. Letter to him could refer to alleged violation of GDR regulations and reject this explanation. It could refer to fact that our position regarding GDR and Four-Power Agreements has been made clear to Soviet Government and conclude by stating that we will continue to hold Soviet authorities responsible for treatment of American nationals in Soviet Sector of Berlin. It appears to Department that this line would satisfy needs for strong statement on incident without engaging in legalistic argument with Soviet authorities which could lead to no useful result and without in effect asking for confirmation from Soviet Government of statement which is unacceptable to us.

Immediately following telegram sets out text of communication from Ambassador Conant to Pushkin along lines Department has in mind.3

In view of publicity this matter has received, letter should be made public promptly.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–3055. Secret; Niact. Drafted by Reinstein, cleared by Beam and Merchant, and approved by Murphy. Repeated to Berlin and Moscow.
  2. This telegram transmitted the text of a draft letter to Pushkin protesting both the detention of the Congressmen and Dibrova’s interpretation of the rights of the German Democratic Republic. (Ibid., 762.0221/11–3055)
  3. Telegram 1505 to Bonn, November 30. (Ibid., 762.0221/11–3055) For text of the note as finally delivered on December 1, see Department of State Bulletin, December 19, 1955, p. 1013. Ambassador Conant’s December 2 statement on the incident is printed ibid., pp. 1013–1014.