4. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany0

2015. Bonn’s 2328 rptd Berlin 497 USAREUR 371 pouched London, Paris.1 As indicated Deptel 19082 Department foresees serious dangers in present course of developments re military trains. While it is possible [Page 9] that Soviet stamping of orders at checkpoint can be regarded as technical detail not incompatible with Allied right of access, it probably forms part of pattern of continuing Soviet effort put themselves in position control who may travel on military trains. We may therefore merely be postponing time at which basic issue must be faced in manner likely involve train stoppage and high level protests. Whatever course of action we may follow on stamping issue, Department considers it imperative we impress on Soviets as forcefully as possible our determination maintain our fundamental position that question of who is to travel on our military trains is solely for decision by Ambassadors and Commanding Generals.

Embassy’s and Berlin’s reports of British and French position and assessment of Soviet firmness indicate we are now faced with alternative of acceding to Soviet demand re stamping or suffering unilateral suspension our train travel without UK and French support. Our position is weakened further by fact movement orders on US freight trains have been stamped by Soviets for two years. (We agree entirely with USAREUR stamping Autobahn orders in no way analogous to that of passengers traveling on military train). It seems undesirable to make major issue of this procedure if withdrawal is to follow. These factors suggest desirability that any change in procedure be effected in such a way that fundamental principle does not suffer.

If Embassy unable to work out tripartitely any better solution which would offer reasonable prospect of success, we therefore prepared accept position set forth para 1 a, b, c reftel but suggest that Three Political Advisers leave with Kotsiuba memorandum making following points: In deciding to permit Soviets, if they so desire, to put stamp on movement orders Three Powers consider such procedure meaningless. Such procedure does not imply any recognition of Soviet authority to question validity of those orders, either generally or for the particular travel, or to raise any question regarding individual passengers in connection with train clearance. Ambassadors and Commanders-in-Chief in Germany have sole competence to determine who may travel to and from Berlin in connection with occupation of Berlin and whether orders valid for such travel. Role of Soviet authorities in connection with documentation these passengers is solely to clear without delay properly identified Allied Autobahn passengers and properly documented Allied military trains.

Such paper would record officially our position and serve as point of reference in future communications to Soviets in event of further difficulties. Technical conditions suggested by British re stamping might better be presented orally since including them in memorandum stating basic principles would detract from effect.

[Page 10]

[1 paragraph (2–1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

Defense concurs this message.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/1–2958. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Lisle and Creel, cleared with Jandrey and Eleanor Dulles, and approved by Murphy. Repeated to Berlin, Heidelberg, London, Paris, and Moscow.
  2. Telegram 2328, January 29, reported that during a meeting that day of representatives of the three Western Embassies, the British proposed that they agree to Soviet stamping of movement orders if the stamping were done on the station platforms, there were no delay in the train schedules, and train crews had 30-day orders. (ibid., 762.0221/1–2958)
  3. Document 3.
  4. Following further discussions among the three Western Allies the Political Advisers again met with Kotsiuba on February 7. During this meeting they agreed to Soviet stamping of movement orders provided that it were done on the train platform, that there were no delay in the train schedules, that the crews had 30-day orders, and that the orders were valid for one way by train and one by autobahn if travelers desired. The new procedure would go into effect on February 13–14. (Telegram 936 from Berlin, February 8; Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/2–858)