16. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Embassy in Germany 0
117. At his request Soviet Commandant General Zakharov called on General Hamlett this morning. Former opened discussion by saying he had some questions to ask about freight on autobahn. First of these was whether, during his exchanges with Chief Group Soviet Forces Germany General Zakharov, General Hodes had been speaking for British and French commanders as well as for himself. He asked this question in view of recent British protests. General Hamlett said that he was not in a position to answer questions since he did not know, but he was able to assure General Zakharov that, since Hodes–Zakharov conversation,1 matter had been fully discussed tripartitely.
General Hamlett continued that, while simplified form of documentation was step in right direction, Allies have objected to two aspects of Soviet position: (1) their precipitous introduction of new procedures on August 1 which provided inadequate time for Allies to make preparations, and (2) their insistence on right of inspection of Allied vehicles.
Markushin, who accompanied Zakharov, remarked at this point that all Soviets really intended was occasionally to request that American in charge of convoy or vehicle lift up rear covering of truck to permit Soviet control officer to look in. Markushin said he would reveal to us confidentially that actually Soviets had issued instructions to checkpoints to apply only partial controls on convoys and trucks until August 10. He insinuated this action taken by Soviet commandant without reference to higher headquarters.
General Hamlett responded that issue was not whether attempt to look into vehicles was to be occasional or regular. He objected in principle to any maintenance of right to inspect military vehicles. This involved in effect questioning of word of responsible American officers, who would enforce disciplinary measures against any personnel attempt to falsify cargo documentation. To Zakharov’s rejoinder that Soviets contemplated action necessary to enable such officers to know whether falsification taking place, General Hamlett said that this was a matter of internal discipline to be controlled by convoy commander. He added that General Zakharov obviously would not wish Americans under similar circumstances to inspect Soviet vehicles.[Page 33]
After further exchange along same lines, discussion this subject ended with General Zakharov saying that he could only report General Hamlett’s position to his own higher authorities.2
Similar message being sent by USCOB to USAREUR through military channels.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/8–858. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to the Department as telegram 124, which is the source text.↩
- See Document 12.↩
- After this part of the meeting, the two Commandants discussed an incident at Steinstuecken on August 7. (Telegram 123 from Berlin, August 8; Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/8–858) Regarding this incident, see Document 17.↩