13. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Embassy in Germany0

1341. Bonn pass information priority USAREUR 315. Reference ourtel sent Bonn 1324, Department 1392, USAREUR 310.1 Embassy telegram 832 to Berlin.2 SX 4947.3

At meeting today between Allied Political Advisers and Col. Markushin it quickly became clear that Soviet interpretation of HodesZakharov exchanges4 differs radically from American version.
As Chairman for month French opened meeting commenting that, because of HodesZakharov exchanges plus recent turnback of US convoy, new elements added to situation which made it desirable that American political adviser lead discussion for Western powers. At prior meeting political advisers British and French had agreed to stand on position A and, if Soviet accepted sample document, that they would recommend it to their superiors.

We referred to recent exchange of messages between HodesZakharov, noting that these appeared to provide possible basis for understanding on documentation. Said we had prepared sample document coverning all requisite points on one piece paper. Following perusal of sample document, Markushin stated questions raised by document appeared broader than discussion at last meeting had indicated.5 He then said he would suggest some amendments to form.

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These were:

A. More detailed specifications of type of cargo, that is, a breakdown showing cargo carried as armament, foodstuffs or other equipment. B. Total weight of cargo should be shown and number of cases, barrels, or other containers. E [C]. If such a listing made Soviet checkpoint officer would, of course, reserve right to look into covered trucks to insure that cargo carried agreed with manifest. He added that in this way Soviets would be able fully to carry out procedure of control specified in agreement of June 29, 1945.6

We replied we thought that, at previous meeting with Markushin, term “supplies and equipment” had been agreed upon as sufficient in principle. We emphasized that we could not agree to points made by Markushin regarding listing of cargo and would only report his position to higher authorities. We did not believe that his suggested breakdown served any necessary purpose. If cargo certified as military supplies and equipment by competent military authority that should suffice. Markushin replied that three categories mentioned were important, and if such breakdown not provided suggested documentation would serve no useful purpose. He added that it was not necessary to describe in detail type armament carried, i.e. rifles, tank parts, machine guns, etc. What was important was category of supplies and in case of foodstuffs (tonnage or kilogram weight) and other equipment (number of cases or other containers). We again stressed principle involved, emphasizing it was Gen Hodes’ (and we had thought Gen Zakharov’s) understanding if officer certified to General nature of contents, his word should be enough. As to Soviet claim to inspect cargo vehicles, we pointed out, this would be completely incompatible with long-standing precedent and was objectionable in principle.
In reply to request for his comments on remainder of form apart from section on cargo documentation, Markushin hedged, stating he had paid particular attention only to disputable item. He did comment, however, that portion of sample document covering personnel would represent weakening of Soviet controls as now enforced. He requested time to study document further and to obtain instructions. Regarding sufficiency of “officer’s word”, he said he did not mean his comments to infer any distrust of Allies. On contrary, if distrust were involved Soviets would have demanded that individual containers be broken open for inspection, which not done at present nor intended in future. Soviets permitted Allies to bring to Berlin via autobahn practically what they wished. Documentation by cargo type and quantity is necessary measure of control, and it therefore not clear to Soviets why Political [Page 29] Advisers unwilling agree to have this information on manifest. West has nothing to lose, and Soviets’ only aim is to make impossible cases of abuse on part of drivers and NCO’s who travel on trucks. Markushin did not believe question of cargo documentation of sufficient importance to necessitate further referral to Commanders-in-Chief. He concluded by stating Soviets would study our draft and at subsequent meeting he would comment on first part.
After stating that he supported U.S. position as presented, French Political Adviser then noted that Markushin’s suggested procedure appeared much like a customs’ check. This Markushin denied, stating in customs’ check each individual item examined whereas this not Soviet purpose. Markushin stated: 1. his suggested procedure should not be interpreted as intention to impose customs type control; 2. Soviet checkpoint officers would glance at truck contents only to see if numbers of cases matched numbers listed on manifest. If truck was open, no need to enter vehicle if cargo readily apparent from outside, but if truck covered, checkpoint officer must look in to examine cargo.
Markushin asked if British had comment, and British Political Adviser stated only that Soviet proposals represented “a grave departure from established procedures”. Otherwise he could only stress his concurrence with U.S.

Markushin closed meeting with comment that, if Political Advisers would explain Soviet motives to superiors, he was certain they would agree with his proposals. He queried whether first part of proposed form intended to cover only groups of trucks. We replied that sample document could be modified for use either by single truck or convoy of trucks.


We have impression that new, stiffer Soviet position on cargo documentation stems directly from instructions issued from General of Army Zakharov’s headquarters. Markushin had never previously hinted that verification of manifests was immediate Soviet objective. On June 28 British military radio truck turned back at Nowawes checkpoint when Soviets not permitted have look at contents. In response to protest by Acting British Political Adviser, Markushin stated that Soviet control officer at checkpoint had been instructed by General of Army Zakharov to exercise discretion as to whether he should look at contents of trucks. However, since Acting British Political Adviser had vouched for military nature of contents truck would be allowed to pass in this instance without inspection.
While in good humor and courteous in manner, Markushin presented Soviet position without hesitation and gave no indication much scope left for concessions. British and French are obviously not happy [Page 30] with direction in which situation developing. They find ominous reference to military trains in third paragraph June 28 message from Zakharov to CINCUSAREUR. Also noted with us that reference to quantity and nature of military cargo second paragraph of Zakharov’s message forewarned that Sovets would not be satisfied with listing of cargo merely as “military supplies and equinment”.7
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/6–3058. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Heidelberg and the Department as telegram 1411, which is the source text.
  2. Telegram 1392, June 25, reported that the Western Political Advisers met the previous day and agreed on the following three proposals to be used in the next discussion with Markushin: (1) the procedure discussed by Hodes and Zakharov would be used by all three Western powers (see Document 12), (2) if this was not acceptable the Political Advisers would suggest a nominal role of personnel and a simple cargo manifest, and (3) in addition to (2) agree to submit individual identity documents as long as the Soviets did not attempt to check them against individual soldiers. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/6–2558)
  3. Telegram 832, June 28, reported that if the Political Advisers could not reach agreement with Markushin, they should refer the question to their Ambassadors. (ibid., 762.0221/6–2858)
  4. SX 4947, June 28, transmitted a letter from Zakharov to Hodes rejecting the latter’s message of June 23 in which he had protested the Soviet refusal to pass a convoy to Berlin. (Washington National Records Center, RG 319, Headquarters Department of the Army, Communications Center Files)
  5. See Document 12.
  6. At their previous meeting with Markushin on June 18, the three Western Political Advisers had agreed to present a sample document stating whether convoy cargo was military supplies or equipment. (Telegram 1365 from Bonn, June 18; Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/6–1858)
  7. Regarding the June 29, 1945, agreement, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. III, pp. 353361.
  8. In his diary entry for June 30 Ambassador Bruce wrote: “Earlier in the afternoon, Hillenbrand reported to me on the meeting, held this morning, of the four political advisers. Soviet Colonel Markushin demanded truck and convoy documentation in terms far more exacting than we have ever used. This is an unsatisfactory situation, and belies the understanding General Hodes thought he had reached with General Zakharov. We will sweat with this one.” (Department of State, Bruce Diaries: Lot 64 D 327)