12. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, U.S. Army, Europe (Hodes) to the Berlin Commandant (Hamlett)0

SX–4099. To USCOB for Hamlett, info AmEmb for Bruce and EUCOM for Palmer. Sgd Hodes.

In his office with only General of the Army Zakharov, Major Spahr, and Lt Vturin present, General Hodes stated that there was one [Page 25] matter of business that he would like to discuss with General Zakharov as one soldier to another. It was a matter with which General Zakharov was probably not familiar, therefore an immediate answer was not expected. General Hodes then stated that it was certain that General Zakharov, as a soldier, understood General Hodes problems regarding the United States garrison in Berlin. That garrison had to be supplied and the troops in that garrison had to be taken out of Berlin to areas in Western Germany periodically for training. Also existing agreement provided General Hodes with the right to execute these supply and troop movements without interference. Marshal Grechko, General Zakharov’s predecessor, understood and agreed with General Hodes on these principles.
Unfortunately, General Hodes continued, there has developed a maze of procedures which appear to be purely harassments and which cannot be accepted. For instance, if it becomes necessary to transport an officer with 30 troops either into or out of Berlin it should be necessary only for that officer to present a document at the Soviet checkpoint showing the 30 troops, under the command of an officer, are proceeding from Berlin to Helmstedt; in other words, a simple movement order. It should not be necessary to list the names of the soldiers in uniform or to show personal identification cards for each soldier. Similarly, if a column of supply trucks was making the trip it should be only necessary to show a document which listed the number of vehicles, by type, their commander, the number of officers and men involved, and the fact that the vehicles were carrying military supplies and equipment.
General Zakharov appeared to agree with General Hodes and asked what seemed to be the difficulty.
General Hodes replied that instead of this simple soldierly procedure, Soviet personnel at the checkpoints were demanding documents showing the names of all troops involved in a particular movement, their identification cards, and detached/detailed lists of their trucks and cargo. This procedure was unnecessary, ridiculous, and nothing but harassment.
General Zakharov agreed and stated that for troop movements by truck, all that should be necessary is for the officer in charge to procure a document showing that he together with a certain number of troops was going to proceed from checkpoint to checkpoint. This document should then be stamped to affirm that passage was made through the checkpoint if questioned enroute and that was all that should be necessary.
Concerning supplies General Zakharov stated that all that should be necessary was a document stating the number and types of vehicles and the types of supplies—bread, flour, military supplies, etc.
General Hodes objected stating that he saw no reason to list the types of supplies since all he would be transporting was military supplies and that lists were cumbersome and unnecessary. There was no intention to transport German nationals or any type of supplies other than on military vehicles moving into or out of Berlin.
General Zakharov said he meant simply broad categories of supplies such as food and military supplies and that he had no interest in the quantities involved.
General Hodes repeated that it should be sufficient to state only that military supplies and/or equipment were being transported.
General Zakharov nodded and said that when he returned1 he would gather the personnel who were involved in these matters and would investigate present procedures.
General Hodes stated that the procedures which are used to clear his personal train were an example of the degree of complexities involved in present procedures. A translation of an order which was signed by General Hodes had to be presented at the checkpoint and in addition a demand was made last week to see his personal identification card. The reply which was and would be given to the latter demand was that General Hodes would show his personal identification card to General Zakharov and to General Zakharov only.
General Zakharov remarked that General Hodes should give advance notice of his intention to travel by train. General Hodes replied that he always gave at least 24 hours notice of his intention to travel by train.
General Zakharov remarked that he had never visited a checkpoint but that he would investigate the procedures when he returned to his headquarters.
General Hodes told General Zakharov that he had been certain that General Zakharov would share his viewpoint on this purely military matter and that he hoped that an improvement would result.
The meeting lasted approximately 25 minutes.
In the opinion of Major Spahr, Lt. Vturin who translated General Hodes’ remarks from English into Russian gave an accurate translation which fully reflected the spirit as well as the content of what General Hodes had to say.
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 319, Headquarters Department of the Army, Communications Center Files. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Bonn for Bruce and to Paris and Washington.
  2. Zakharov was returning to Moscow for consultations.