368. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Department of State0

1053. Geneva for Hillenbrand. On return [from?] Geneva yesterday I requested appointment Mayor Brandt. He received me at his house late last night in usual friendly manner but stated he particularly glad [Page 852] have chance talk at length because he had never been more depressed in his life and wished unburden himself. Principal causes his low state mind:


He is extremely upset over apparent decision not hold presidential elections in Berlin on July 1 particularly after it has been so frequently stated publicly that they will be held here. Furthermore five years ago previous presidential elections held here and precedent created. If it abandoned now, can only appear to Russians and Berlin population that West is beating retreat from Berlin. Brandt is convinced that such retreat will not favorably impress Russians but merely egg them on as favorable gestures to Russians are not appreciated by them but merely excite their derision. He added that SPD had learned through its Ostburo that after his colleague Ollenauer visited Khrushchev in Sov Embassy East Berlin1 he and Socialist Party had been subject of derisive witticisms by Khrushchev, who had made fun of them as easy to fool. Brandt also depressed by circumstance that he unable ascertain who is responsible for decision not to hold presidential election here. In so far as he can learn everyone concerned disclaims responsibility and puts it on to someone else. Germans generally blame Allies and he had heard that Allies disclaim any responsibility.

His depression re this matter further increased by efforts being made by some circles even to prevent President Heuss from coming Berlin formally to take possession Schloss Bellevue which has been restored as official presidential residence here. He feels that if Heuss is forced to call off an already announced visit and rescind invitations already given out for dinner and reception on June 18 Berlin will really have been abandoned in eyes of world.

He had learned through German channels that Western Foreign Ministers had presented memorandum to Russians on June 32 which reportedly made major concessions with regard to Berlin and Allied rights to protect city. He had ascertained that German Delegation in Geneva had this memorandum and had requested to be informed concerning its contents. His request had met with flat refusal accompanied by explanation that paper was not one intended to be seen by Berlin’s Mayor. He remarked with wry, bitter note that as chief magistrate of object to be altered he thought he had right to know what proposed to be done to him and his people—after all the Russians know.

I had already received Geneva’s 45 to Berlin3 and was able assure him that Berlin had not been sold out. I did not tell him that I had seen [Page 853] text but merely that I had learned in Geneva that Russians had been complaining in various ways that Western powers are maintaining troops in Berlin as threat to peace of Europe and are engaging in propaganda and various other activities further to aggravate threat. I added that Western powers had, I understood, decided make it very clear to Russians that they had no intention yielding any their rights whatsoever but that they were willing listen to any specific suggestions Russians might wish make as to what the Western powers might do, without infringing their rights, to meet specific Soviet grievances. Brandt seemed reassured.

Brandt grateful for information furnished him recently by U.S. Mission and asked me to send his personal thanks to Secretary Herter. He still feels very strong sense of grievance over incomplete information he is receiving through German channels and is therefore especially thankful for reassurance he has received through us that confusing and disheartening press reports have no factual basis.

I told Brandt I had been glad be able report in Geneva that Berliners were keeping up their spirits. He added that this was true, that morale was still good, but that he was receiving increasing reports to effect that people throughout city who had not hitherto shown interest in such things were giving more and more attention to discouraging press political reports. Brandt made it very plain that Berlin morale will be subject most severe strain when Berliners become aware that presidential election will not be held here and that some public gesture on the part of the West will be necessary to counteract bad effect of such announcement.

Brandt took up following additional points:

He would be leaving Berlin next morning to visit Copenhagen. After returning for weekend would leave Tuesday for a 2–1/2 day visit Paris. Some his colleagues have suggested that Western Foreign Ministers might be critical over his leaving city now. He asked me to report that he can be reached at any minute through German diplomatic missions in Copenhagen or Paris and that he felt it would be harmful for him put off his visits.
Brandt remarked parenthetically after his adversion to Khrushchev’s reaction to Ollenauer visit that controversy which had arisen in SPD about SPD journalists’ visits to Soviet Union was apparently resolving itself satisfactorily. I believe he inserted this remark to register opinion that controversy embarrassing to negotiations in Geneva was not likely to break out in the Social Democratic Party and that the proWestern elements in party were gaining strength.
Brandt described as unfortunate Adenauer’s announcement that he wished continue as Chancellor and would not be candidate for [Page 854] presidency.4 It will greatly confuse political situation and not be conducive to Adenauer’s own prestige while at same time continuation in Chancellor’s office will subject him to physical and mental strain which might terminate his activity under circumstances that could further complicate situation. Brandt had not had time think over full implications of announcement but his initial reactions remarkably nonpartisan.

Re Brandt’s complaint under heading (2) above, with telegrams [I am?] now receiving I can reassure him regarding what is not being done in Geneva. His discontent with his own people over their failure better to inform him and bad effect of their tactless remarks, such as that matters concerning Berlin are not matters about which he can always properly query them, present problem that unfavorably affect Allied interests but cannot be remedied without German corrective action.

Re Brandt’s concern about presidential election, I recommend that we tell Germans go ahead and hold election here. If election is not held here we will be blamed. Resulting bad effect on Berlin morale will very likely be such that some extremely strong gesture from Western side will be required to repair damage—and such gesture might involve much more objectionable implications than holding election here.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/6–559. Secret; Priority. Transmitted in two sections and also sent to Geneva and Bonn.
  2. This meeting took place on March 9.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 358.
  4. Telegram 45 transmitted the paper referred to in footnote 2 above. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/6–359)
  5. Adenauer’s decision was announced on June 4.