70. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Regional Organizations to the Department of State0

Polto 1461. NAC meeting November 26—Berlin. Inconclusive discussion Berlin situation marked by Spaak’s effort to spark thinking concerning allied reaction to de facto situation likely be created by Soviets and general consensus not advisable attempt lay down precise plans for dealing hypothetical contingencies but NAC should be informed promptly when plans completed or situation otherwise requires.

Germany summarized AdenauerSmirnov talk of 20 November along line Bonn 1080,1 but omitting Smirnov’s reference German rearmament.

In response Spaak’s request for information regarding press stories of 3-power agreement on plans, US indicated there is no single definite agreed plan as reported press since three powers awaiting more precise indications Soviet intentions. Then conveyed substance Topol 1803,2 [Page 130] stressing President’s, Vice-President’s and Secretary’s statements3 as evidence US firmness, close consultation among three powers and fact Soviet hesitation may indicate they finding difficulty in implementing their plans. Said US would welcome suggestions. France supported US and indicated would be inopportune convey tentative 3-power thinking. Stressed need avoid any sign disunity or hesitation while awaiting Soviet moves. Noting Soviet moving more hesitantly than anticipated, UK endorsed US-French statements.

Canada, later strongly supported by Norway, noted intimate relationship Berlin crisis to alliance and, while fully appreciating need await further Soviet moves, stated all members wish be kept fully and promptly informed. Spaak strongly supported Norway, allies must be consulted whenever major decisions arise on issue forces.

Expressing understanding position taken by three powers and noting general reluctance discuss specific reactions to possible Soviet moves Spaak nevertheless asked consideration be given to most advantageous ways countering likely Soviet moves. Recalling German memo (Polto 1412)4 on status Berlin, he urged allies not base position wholly on legal considerations which Soviets will ignore. Stressed need allies find concept understandable to our public opinion pointing out awkwardness appearing take position Soviets should stay in Berlin while public opinion hoping they will leave Eastern Europe. Problem is to find practical way for 3 powers remain Berlin after Russian withdrawal has removed quadripartite basis occupation. Asked German representative what was meant by being firm vis-à-vis GDR.

German representative on personal basis noted Smirnov had not said Soviets would withdraw but that they wanted abolish occupation status Berlin. Problem not so much how deal with GDR but how to react to likely Soviet contention 3-power occupation no longer valid. Spaak suggested GFR could ask three powers remain, to which German representative replied Berlin not part either GFR or GDR and in any event that would not solve problem GFR access to Berlin through GDR-controlled territory.

Italy speculated Soviets may assert their withdrawal renders Berlin terra nullius and they may propose some form of internationalization for city. Latter concept if suggested should be studied carefully by West.

[Page 131]

Spaak argued Soviet withdrawal could not affect rights three powers and suggested Soviets not likely request consideration new status for Berlin for fear West will propose discussion whole German problem. This may account for their hesitation.

As example practical issues likely arise, US recalled convoy incident discussed last week.5 Regardless whether obstacles to traffic created by Soviet or GDR personnel, question is do we retreat, use force or find other ways maintain our rights. Stressed importance not giving press any reason believe we are divided or hesitant.

Spaak concluded by noting general agreement NAC could not do more now but must be kept aware of all important decisions.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/11–2658. Secret. Repeated to Moscow, Berlin, Bonn, and London.
  2. Document 53.
  3. Topol 1803, November 25, transmitted a briefing for Burgess from which he might speak at the NAC session on Berlin. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/11–2558)
  4. Presumably references to Dulles’ statement on November 24 on Western solidarity on Berlin (Topol 1794 to Paris, November 25; ibid.) and Vice President Nixon’s address to the Pilgrims in London on November 25 in which he reiterated that the United States would resist aggression in Berlin (for extracts from the address, see The Times, November 26, 1958, p. 6). The Presidential statement has not been identified further.
  5. Polto 1412, November 23, transmitted a summary of the German memorandum cited in footnote 5, Document 59.
  6. See Document 43.