71. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State0

1972. Foreign Office has shown us copy of cable sent today with de Gaulle’s approval to major capitals outlining French position on Berlin. Cable states French reject moves leading to recognition of GDR, and recapitulates procedures worked out tripartitely in Bonn for dealing with contingencies which may arise in event GDR personnel appear at rail or autobahn control points. Concept of airlift, limited initially to supply of military garrisons in Berlin, is supported, with acknowledgement this may lead to real test of force, which West must be prepared to face.

French suggest that, after Soviets communicate their intentions to US officially, tripartite démarche by three Ambassadors should be effected in Moscow with purpose of re-affirming Western will to defend position in Berlin. Ambassadors would also point to fact that Soviets refused to discuss German problems as proposed by West last May.1

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After test of force in Berlin, French message states West should be prepared to take up question of negotiations with Soviets on entire German question. Allied position in such negotiations should be reviewed.

French Embassies Washington, Bonn, London are instructed communicate substance this cable to Department and Foreign Offices, and French in Washington are to use it as guide in tripartite discussions on Berlin.

French are studying recommendations of Deputy Commandants in Berlin (Berlin’s 400 to Department).2 Working level is sympathetic but points out it may be difficult get top-level approval in French Government of these modifications of tripartite plans already approved in Bonn. French also have some fear that public opinion might consider Berlin’s recommendations overly rigid.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–2658. Secret. Repeated to Berlin, Bonn, London and Moscow.
  2. On May 28 the Western powers had transmitted to the Soviet Union a draft agenda for a summit conference that included reunification of Germany as a topic. (American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pp. 803–808) The inclusion of Germany as a topic was rejected by the Soviet Union on June 11 in a letter from Khrushchev to Eisenhower. (Department of State Bulletin, July 21, 1958, pp. 96–101)
  3. Telegram 400, November 25, reported that the Deputy Commandants and Political Advisers had unanimously agreed that current contingency plans for surface access to Berlin should immediately be changed to provide that Allied personnel traveling by train or motor vehicle would turn back if challenged by East German officials who might replace Soviet representatives at the checkpoints. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–2558)