50. Telegram from the Mission at Berlin to the Department of State0

360. Paris also pass Topol. Re Deptel 236.1 Mission interprets UK position as based on assumption “we cannot prevent Khrushchev from carrying out his threat” and proceeding to acceptance inevitable recognition GDR.

We consider British unrealistic in assumption contained “course C” their memo that recognition GDR would permit continued Allied occupation Berlin. Once recognition accorded GDR, four-power status officially ended and continued Allied occupation city stripped of legal basis.

While compromises possible which could prolong Allied “occupation” in one form or another, stated objective of Communists is to get Allies out and continued pressures, harassments and threats would, we believe, force us ultimately either abandon city or resort to force. Meanwhile, with “writing on wall,” there little expectation city could survive economically with industry depending on GDR acquiescence for imports-exports and Allied position on wane.

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British suggestion of GDR recognition appears ignore fact that all of Berlin is claimed as capital GDR. It also overlooks effect such recognition on East German population and on stability GDR which could embark on harder Stalinist program internally and appreciably step up pressure on FedRep. UK proposal appears ignore fact that Berlin policy is but one segment of our German policy. Ramifications of our recognizing GDR would be manifold. One clear result would be to discredit our firmest German friends who support Western European integration policy and encourage disenchantment US leadership, with probable consequent boosting of stock of German neutralists. British, it seems to us, have failed to recognize that Sovs deal with Berlin as part of world power balance.

For foregoing reasons, mission has viewed askance any steps in direction acceptance GDR control of access routes even allowing GDR “agents” place date stamp on surface travel orders as tripartite policy now envisages should GDR take over controls (Berlin tel 298 to Bonn, rptd Dept 345).2 In mission view, basic decision needed on whether:

Allies play for time allowing GDR to nibble away until Allied position untenable, thus postponing day of decision re use force or abandoning city. Berlin’s economic position likely suffer severely meanwhile.
We take forthright stand now by refusing accept GDR controls in any form and making clear our determination remain Berlin.

On basic assumption of British that we cannot prevent Khrushchev from carrying out threat, we leave it to the appropriate world capitals to determine whether this assumption is correct. We hope it is not. We believe that trap Soviets are laying for us could result in such serious consequences that every effort should be made to stop them.

We venture one suggestion:

Khrushchev statements on Berlin beginning Nov 10 have implied willingness negotiate question and at least some Soviet and Sov Bloc interpretations of that speech seem to have placed Khrushchev declaration within framework all-German settlement. Important factor now would seem to be to insure that possible four-power negotiations not begin under Soviet preconditions. Allies might therefore consider proposing immediate four-power conference with sufficiently vague and limited preconditions to permit Soviet acceptance without loss of face. Idea would be to take advantage of what may be short-lived opportunity [Page 90] deal with Soviets on equal basis before we find ourselves faced with a Sov fait accompli.

In short, choice appears be resist now, using opportunity seize initiative with Soviets, or face having to resist Soviets together with stabilized and strengthened GDR in a weakened Berlin later.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/11–1958. Secret; Priority. Also sent to Bonn and repeated to Moscow, London, and Paris.
  2. Printed as telegram 1012 to Bonn, Document 45.
  3. Telegram 298, November 16, reported that at a meeting on November 14 the three Western Political Advisers had reached agreement on tripartite positions on air access to Berlin and procedures to be followed if the Soviet Union transferred its remaining occupation responsibilities to the East Germans. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–1658)