64. Telegram From the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (Norstad), to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Twining)0

EC 9–6265. For Twining from Norstad.


  • A. JCS 951312 dtd 26 [21] Nov 58
  • B. Bonn-AmConGen Bremen 26 dtd 18 Nov 58
  • C. COB 141 dtd 22 Nov 58
  • D. EC 9–6071 dtd 16 Nov 58
  • E. Berlin-Bonn 268 dtd 11 Nov 58
  • F. Paris-State 1911 dtd 21 Nov 581
In reference A you request my views and comments with reference to the prospect that Soviets will shortly turn over to GDR all Soviet control functions in Berlin and East Germany and that GDR will not feel bound by any existing quadripartite agreements. The problems stated of course are far broader than that of access to Berlin.
In my view it is essential to inform the Soviet immediately and preferably without public announcement that we do not intend to recognize or deal with GDR; that we will not allow the GDR to impede the exercise of any right we presently hold; that we will not accept any control by the GDR over our movements to and from Berlin; and that we will use force if necessary to enforce our rights.
But at the same time, we should try to sieze the initiative while we have the chance and broaden the base of allied support by proposing a four-power conference on Germany (I repeat on Germany not solely on Berlin). See message to State, reference F.
Obviously it is of the highest importance that France and Britain take the same unequivocal line. A major break between allies on this subject could lead to worse disaster than the loss of Berlin itself.
Unless we are willing to begin a humiliating process of yielding step by step to the GDR, we must draw the line now and the Russians must understand we will use force to support this position if necessary. As for the tactics to be employed regarding access to Berlin: First, I suggest that the instructions which Embassy Bonn issued to cover individual travel to Berlin by Autobahn (reference B), and their instructions covering train travel (reference C) be applied on the broadest basis possible; second, we should continue to operate US military convoys as in the past so long as the checkpoints are under Soviet control, to the extent of even one Soviet representative being present on whom the responsibility can be placed. While we must maintain our rights, we should not now seek to force a test of Soviet control, in light of the larger problem which is developing. Third, if the checkpoints have been turned over completely to GDR control, we should choose a time and place to force the issue promptly by dispatching a test convoy supported by appropriate [Page 117] force. It is not a question of the US forces in Berlin being able to defeat any force that could be brought against it, but of forcing into the open the fact that the GDR, backed by the Soviet, is using violence to deprive the US of its established rights.2
If an attempt is made to replace Soviet personnel with GDR personnel in BASC, the East Germans will be asked to leave and if need be, escorted out; and flight information on Western aircraft continue to be made available (reference E). The problems which may be anticipated incident to continued air travel between West Berlin and Germany include refusal of civil aircraft to enter into Berlin, with possible manning by US military crews, interference with radar and navigational aid, saturation of corridors by GDR and Soviet aircraft, attempts to force aircraft to land and even interference with aircraft in flights.
The more I study this question the more I become convinced that we must take a very firm position in support of our rights and obligations in Berlin, and that this position be made known to the Russians. We may hope, as we do, that a show of determination may ease the situation but we cannot expect it to solve the problem. Therefore, we must balance our over-all position, we must make an effort to gain the initiative by more fundamental, longer range action as well. With all its apparent pitfalls and dangers, the idea of conference as suggested in reference F gains weight as we consider the consequences, the strengths and weaknesses of other courses of action. Finally, whatever we decide to do must be done quickly if it is to have any chance of success.3
  1. Source: JCS Master Cable Files. Top Secret; Operational Immediate.
  2. JCS 951312, November 21, requested Norstad’s views on the Berlin situation. (Ibid.) Telegram 26 from Bonn to Bremen, repeated to Washington as 1055, transmitted detailed instructions for travel to Berlin on the autobahn. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–1858) COB 141 transmitted the current instructions for action to be taken if East Germans replaced Soviet officials at the checkpoints on the autobahn and railroads. (Washington National Records Center, RG 319, Headquarters Department of the Army, Communications Center Files) Regarding EC 9–6071, see footnote 5, Document 40. Regarding telegram 268, repeated to Washington as 315, see footnote 5, Document 34. Telegram 1911 is not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–2158)
  3. On November 25 the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent the following reply to Norstad: “The JCS concur that we should continue to operate U.S. military convoys as in the past so long as the checkpoints are under Soviet control to the extent of even one Soviet representative being present on whom the responsibility can be placed, and that although we must maintain our rights we should not now seek to force a test of Soviet control in light of the larger problem developing. Accordingly, on this basis you are authorized to resume normal military motor convoys between West Berlin and West Germany at your discretion. State concurs.” (JCS Master Cable Files)
  4. On November 26, Macmillan discussed the Berlin situation with Norstad who was in London for the dedication ceremony at St. Paul’s. Norstad reiterated the views expressed in EC 9–6265 and the Prime Minister “showed considerable interest, said he had been thinking of possible ‘summit meeting’ on German problem, and indicated he would probably be discussing matter with President and Secretary in near future.” (Telegram 1983 from Paris, November 27; Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/11–2758)