32. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Herter to President Eisenhower0


  • Status Report on Berlin in the Light of the Khrushchev Statement of November 10

In response to your request for information regarding the present Berlin situation resulting from the Khrushchev speech of November 10, I enclose a status report on this subject.

Christian A. Herter
[Page 61]




The Khrushchev statement on Berlin has naturally caused concern in Berlin and West Germany. Newspapers carried the story in banner headlines. Editorial reactions were, however, generally moderate and cool-headed; they expressed confidence in Western guarantees to Berlin and interpreted the Khrushchev statement as a move in the war of nerves, possibly connected with the coming East German and Berlin elections, rather than as a prelude to the actual withdrawal of U.S.S.R. authorities from Berlin or to drastic harassment of the city. The Berlin population has so far reacted in a similar unhysterical fashion. Berlin officials have called upon the Three Powers to demonstrate as effectively as possible the determination of the Three Powers to honor their Berlin commitments.

Although we have heard the reactions of one working-level Foreign Office official we do not yet know the views of Foreign Secretary Brentano or Chancellor Adenauer. Ambassador Grewe called on the Under Secretary on November 122 to express the deep concern of the Federal Government at the implications of the Khrushchev statement.

Although there are a variety of speculations regarding Soviet motivation this action seems clearly related to a long-standing Soviet desire to force the Western Powers into de facto recognition of an East German regime through the creation of situations on allied access routes to Berlin calculated to compel the Western Powers to deal with East German officials.

The Department in public statements is emphasizing our quadripartite responsibilities in Berlin and the unacceptability of Soviet unilateral abrogation of specific quadrilateral agreements on Berlin (other than the Potsdam Agreement which is not pertinent to our position in Berlin).

Consideration is being given to the desirability of some tripartite reaffirmation of the Western position on Berlin. There is, however, some difference of view as to whether this would be useful at the present time. The British and Germans at the working level believe it would demonstrate our nervousness more than our determination and we think it advisable to wait at least a few days to see how the situation develops before issuing a tripartite statement. This is in line with our belief that [Page 62] our wisest course is to avoid actions which might over-dramatize the present situation.

We are reviewing our contingency planning on Berlin in case the Soviet Union carries out Khrushchev’s threat to our position in Berlin.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DullesHerter Series. Secret. Initialed by the President.
  2. Secret.
  3. See Document 28.