181. Airgram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany0

G–397. Paris pass USCINCEUR Thurston and West. Department’s 1865 to Bonn.1 Following is text memorandum on Berlin contingency planning handed British and French Ambassadors February 18. Slight corrections suggested by British and French as given in bracketed text are acceptable to us.

[Page 382]

“The re-examination of Berlin contingency planning which has been undertaken on the basis of the United States aide-mémoire of December 11, 19582 would be facilitated by a more precise description of the measures which would be taken to deal with and to prepare for a situation in which the USSR attempted to withdraw from its present functions with respect to the access of the Three Powers to Berlin and in which officials of the so-called ‘German Democratic Republic’ (GDR) refused to allow the traffic of the Three Powers to pass without submitting to some form of control.

“Agreement should therefore be reached at this time on the more detailed plan of action outlined in paragraphs 1 through 5 below.

“1. Measures To Be Taken Immediately:

“(a) The Three Powers will continue their efforts to bring about a Foreign Ministers’ meeting with the USSR on the various aspects of the German question by early May [French suggested ‘as indicated in instructions to Ambassadors at Moscow’ instead of ‘by early May’]3 bearing in mind that one of the purposes of such a meeting would be to provide the USSR with a cover which could facilitate the modification or the indefinite postponement of its ‘ultimatum’ that it will withdraw from its functions with relation to the Three Powers’ access to Berlin after May 27.4

“(b) In view of the possibility that the USSR may nonetheless withdraw from these functions and in order to provide evidence of the Three Powers’ determination to maintain their free access, the Three Powers will, in the period between now and May 27, take quiet preparatory and precautionary military measures of a kind which will not create public alarm but which will be detectable by Soviet intelligence. These measures will be planned and co-ordinated by the military headquarters of the Three Powers in Germany.

“2. Initial Probe of Soviet Intentions:

“After the announced or attempted withdrawal of Soviet personnel from the access checkpoints, the first Allied movement via the Autobahn will be one or more trucks from Berlin accompanied by a scout car or a comparable armed vehicle. If necessary, the vehicles will be identified to the GDR officials as vehicles of one of the Three Powers, but no stamping of papers or inspection by GDR officials will be allowed. The [Page 383] movement will proceed toward Helmstedt until its passage is physically obstructed. It will not fire unless fired upon, but if fired upon will take whatever defensive actions seem necessary.

“3. Possible Substitution of Allied for Soviet Personnel:

“At that juncture the Three Powers should consider the possibility of substituting their own personnel for the Soviet personnel withdrawn from the Nowawes and Marienborn checkpoints.

“4. Efforts To Increase Pressure on USSR and GDR:

“If the initial probe [French suggested adding ‘or probes as’] described in paragraph 2 above is physically obstructed, the Three Powers will temporarily suspend surface traffic and will make parallel efforts along the following lines to increase pressure on the USSR and the GDR:

  • “(a) The Three Powers will seek to mobilize world opinion against the USSR as a violator of agreements, as a user of force, and as a threat to the peace. The situation could be taken to the United Nations Security Council and, in the event of a Soviet veto, to a special session of the General Assembly. Consideration would be given to further forms of diplomatic pressure, including the withdrawal of the Ambassadors of the Three Powers from Moscow.
  • “(b) The Three Powers will intensify their military preparations. At this point the preparations could include measures which would be readily observable, for example, the evacuation of dependents from Berlin, and possibly from the Federal Republic.

“5. Use of Additional Military Force:

“If the measures described in paragraph 4 above do not suffice to restore the free access of the Three Powers to Berlin, the Three Governments will decide [British suggested adding ‘after appropriate consultation’] whether further military pressures should be applied by the use of additional force.

“The attitude of the Three Powers towards dealing with personnel at the Nowawes and Marienborn checkpoints should be also defined more precisely with respect to two points.

“The first of these relates to the so-called ‘agency principle.’ The Three Powers cannot deal with GDR personnel as Soviet agents if the USSR denies that such an agency relationship exits. If, however, the USSR should ultimately propose a compromise under which the USSR, as principal, would expressly authorize GDR personnel to function as Soviet agents in performing Soviet functions with relation to the access of the Three Powers to Berlin, the Three Powers should consider the possibility of accepting such a compromise solution, with appropriate safeguards for their own rights.

“The second point involves the practical problem of identifying the vehicles of the Three Powers at the Nowawes and Marienborn checkpoints [Page 384] in order to establish that they constitute an Allied military movement enjoying the right of unrestricted passage between Berlin and West Germany. If Soviet personnel are withdrawn from the checkpoints, there would be no objection to providing mere identification of the vehicles of the Three Powers for the information of GDR personnel at the checkpoints. Such identification should not, however, include the stamping of papers or any other form of inspection or control, and it should not be construed as acquiescence in the substitution of GDR for Soviet personnel. The Three Embassies at Bonn, after consultation with the military headquarters of the Three Powers in Germany, should determine the appropriate procedure for identifying the vehicles of the Three Powers and incorporate this identification procedure in the detailed instructions which the Embassies are now developing for Autobahn travel by military convoys and vehicles and by the privatelyowned vehicles of official personnel of the Three Powers.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/2–1959. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by McKiernan, cleared by Murphy and Hillenbrand, and approved by Kohler. Repeated to Berlin, Paris, London, and Moscow.
  2. Telegram 1865, February 18, reported that at a meeting with the French and British Ambassadors that day agreement had been reached on a memorandum covering Berlin contingency planning. (Ibid., 762.00/2–1859) No other record of this meeting has been found.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 98.
  4. All brackets in the source text.
  5. In the Soviet note of November 27, 1958 (see Document 72), Khrushchev declared that if the Berlin question were not resolved in 6 months, the Soviet Union would sign a separate peace treaty with the German Democratic Republic.