34. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State0

1037. Reference Deptel 987.1 After meeting this morning with British and French Counselors we met this afternoon with their Ambassadors at French request.2

Regarding possible tripartite declaration or démarche Moscow, British strongly opposed both. They consider that statements already made have amply shown firmness our position, that things now calmed down somewhat, that Grotewohl speech3 indicated slight retreat, and [Page 64] that in any event démarche Moscow might prove tactical error by evoking reply “formalizing” statements in Khrushchev speech. French Ambassador, although instructed by Paris discuss possibility of démarche, agreed with British it better leave things where they are pending further developments. We also inclined agree.

Other points French instructed discuss were (1) exact nature difficulties Soviets may create and (2) possible Western retaliations. On (1) it agreed that foreseeable eventualities already pretty well covered in tripartite paper on surface access to Berlin (Embdesp 1075 December 18, 1957)4 and in tripartite instructions to BASC (Berlin’s 315 to Department5 —British and French comments on these instructions in separate telegram6).

British expressed view that any moves were apt to be against Allied access to Berlin rather than German. If Allied surface travel cut off and even if commercial air travel also stopped, they suggested, it should be possible for three powers to mount almost immediately “little airlift” to supply Berlin garrisons and provide transport for at least official travel. They thought cost and effort of this would not be great and that it would put Soviets and GDR in disadvantageous position. We suggested “little airlift” might have to be expanded to cover at least some civilian travel also if commercial airlines unable fly. It was agreed ask governments consider idea and what if any advance planning necessary.

On possible retaliations, it agreed essential press Germans join in economic countermeasures, especially re steel deliveries. British also reverted to idea put forward their paper on countermeasures (Embdesp 1865 April 14),7 about refusing visas to Soviets, and suggested that if three powers and Federal Republic, as well perhaps as all NATO countries, agreed such refusal, it would have strong impact. In reply question whether UK really likely be willing do this, British Ambassador said he believed so since idea had emanated from Foreign Office.

[Page 65]

Desirability of discussing practically all of foregoing with Germans on confidential basis was agreed and meeting now set with Northe tomorrow (Saturday) morning.8

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/11–1458. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to London, Paris, Moscow, and Berlin.
  2. Telegram 987, November 13, reported that the Department was considering reiterating the tripartite declaration of 1954 on Berlin and asked that this idea be discussed in the quadripartite meetings at Bonn. (Ibid., 762.00/11–1358)
  3. Ambassador Bruce left Bonn November 6 for consultations in Washington; he returned to Germany November 21.
  4. Reference is to Grotewohl’s press statement of November 12; see footnote 2, Document 30.
  5. Despatch 1075 transmitted the “Policy on Travel In and Through Soviet Zone of Germany (GDR) Including Travel To and From Berlin.” (Department of State, Central Files, 862B.181/12–1857)
  6. Telegram 315, November 11, reported that the three Western powers had agreed not to allow East German controllers into BASC, and in the event that the Soviets withdrew from participation in it, to continue to file flight plans in the normal manner. (ibid., 762.0221/11–1158)
  7. Not found in Department of State files.
  8. This eight-paragraph report suggested countermeasures that could be taken inside and out of Germany, stressed that they must be taken by all the NATO powers as well, and explored how they might be introduced. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/4–1458)
  9. At 5 p.m. on November 14 the Embassy in London also reported that the British opposed either reiteration of the 1954 declaration on Berlin or a private démarche in Moscow. Ambassador Whitney added that the British opposed any quadripartite meeting with the West Germans until the tripartite (United States, United Kingdom, and France) position had been “firmed up.” (Telegram 2659; ibid., 762.00/11–1458)

    Despite British opposition, the three Western powers met with the West Germans on November 15 and in a conversation characterized as “somewhat confused” and “inconclusive” it was agreed to propose that the North Atlantic Council discuss the desirability of some tripartite declaration. (Telegram 1041 from Bonn, November 15; ibid., 762.00/11–1558)