30. Telegram From the Mission in Berlin to the Department of State0

323. From Trimble. Accompanied by Burns and Muller I called on Mayors Brandt and Amrehn this morning. I said Khrushchev presumably had several objectives in mind in making statement re Germany: raise stature GDR, enhance world tension, probe allied determination re Berlin, weaken Western cohesion, etc. In circumstances it essential West should not be alarmed or permit any weakening its unity. Our power posture greater than that of Sovs and latter aware this.

Mayor Brandt expressed his gratitude for my assurances. He especially pleased Secretary’s Nov 7 and press officer White’s Nov 11 statements.1 He analyzed situation from two points of view: (1) as far as GDR [Page 55] concerned, East Germans have impression they were driving force behind Khrushchev’s move. Reportedly, senior GDR officials had conferred with Sov Ambassador Pervukhin and were assured of Sov support in campaign against West Berlin. East German initiative designed (a) provoke shock in zone to reduce number of refugees by dramatizing instability Berlin position casting doubt on ability of refugees escape via West Berlin because prospect Commies would force cessation commercial flights; (b) shake economic stability of West Berlin to reduce investments and bring about cancellation industry orders; (c) possible belief that SED vote might be increased by capitalizing on desire of people to “reinsure” themselves.

(2) As far as Sov motives concerned Brandt said Khrushchev probably wanted determine whether Berlin was soft spot in Western front and may have underrated strength and promptness Western reaction. Brandt said yesterday’s Grotewohl statement2 was significant since he referred to Khrushchev “proposal” rather than “announcement.” He nevertheless felt situation re access Western powers was serious in event replacement Sov control personnel at autobahn by East Germans in which case Western powers presumably have to accept GDR control or embark on self-blockade unless they were prepared use force which Brandt doubted.

He also stated that East Germans had capability of severing connections between two parts of city but such action would not seriously interfere with economic life West Berlin as long as transport goods continued. A much greater danger was likelihood East Germans would start with minor steps none of which would seem worth a strong reaction but cumulative effect of which would be strangulation.

Brandt then suggested (1) approach by three Western powers in Moscow as outlined by Amrehn (ourtel 269 to Bonn, 316 Dept)3 and (2) consideration be given to advisability of sending several Americans of national stature to Berlin not unduly to dramatize situation but rather as proof continuing interest U.S. Govt and people in Berlin. In response [Page 56] to my question whom Brandt had in mind he replied leading representatives both parties such as Messrs. Rockefeller and Stevenson.

I assured Brandt that his first suggestion had already been forwarded to Dept and that we would bring second its attention.

I opened meeting with Amrehn with same remarks as made to Brandt. Amrehn said he especially gratified with U.S. statement which headlined by West Berlin press today that 600 planes ready for another airlift; he felt this all that could be asked by way of clarification our position to population West Berlin and to Kremlin. Amrehn felt entire East “offensive against Berlin well planned strategy and that motives internal politics, such as Khrushchev’s desire fortify his position prior 21st CP USSR Congress, secondary. He emphasized Khrushchev had not spoken of “decisions” and that therefore there was time take steps against implementation his threats.

Amrehn also raised problem West rail and road access and said there was no indication that Sovs might propose using GDR personnel as their agents at control points but that Khrushchev speech pointed to direct transfer these functions to GDR as sovereign state. Remarking that previous GDR measures such as imposition autobahn and waterway tolls should not have been tolerated, Amrehn emphasized he felt Allies should accept no Vopo control of traffic to West Berlin garrisons. Decision might have to be taken by Allies to proceed without submitting East German controls.

Amrehn then suggested time might be ripe consider new stockpile discussions, and resumption contacts with Berlin officials on this matter.

Amrehn informed his suggestion re Berlin conference three Ambassadors considered but in view already existing plans myself and British Ambassador come to Berlin independently, it felt that same purpose could be accomplished individual Rathaus calls on our part. If shortly after this three chiefs of mission were to revisit Berlin together, psychological effect might be counter-productive. Amrehn agreed.

[1 paragraph (3 lines of source text) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–1358. Confidential. Also sent to Bonn and repeated to Moscow, London, and Paris.
  2. Regarding White’s statement, see Document 24; regarding Secretary Dulles’ press conference on November 7, see Document 23.
  3. At his press conference on November 12, Minister President Otto Grotewohl stated that Khrushchev’s speech was designed to serve as a basis for further discussion and that both the GDR and Soviet Union were ready to examine the agreement under which Soviet troops were stationed in East Germany. The Mission in Berlin commented that the tone of the statement was “reasonable” and “cautious” and that it appeared Grotewohl had been ordered to “damp down” the reaction to the speech. (Telegram 319, November 12; Department of State, Central Files, 862B.00/11–1258)
  4. Telegram 316, November 11, reported on a meeting of the three Western Deputy Commandants with Amrehn at which the latter proposed two possible steps with regard to Berlin: (1) joint call by the three Western Ambassadors on Pervukhin to reaffirm the four-power status of Berlin, or (2) joint Western démarche in Moscow stating that the Allies would not tolerate any changes that would affect their position in West Berlin. (ibid., 762.0221/11–1158)