77. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Department of State0
426. Paris also pass USCINCEUR Thurston and West. Senator Hickenlooper and I called today on Governing Mayor Brandt who received us in presence Mayor Amrehn and other Berlin officials and presented him with freedom bell. After exchange of pleasantries, and in response to Mayor Brandt’s opening remarks about serious affairs, Senator said that he concerned at local press interpretation of Secretary’s Nov 26 remarks.1 Senator stated that he would not criticize interpretation of remarks since they, or at least press reports of them, might give room to incorrect interpretation put upon them.2 Senator stated that his experience [Page 139] Foreign Relations Committee, and particularly his close relationship with Secretary, enable him reassure Berlin officials that in his opinion Secretary had not implied U.S. considering any “general theory of agency.” Senator emphasized that press had failed sufficiently stress positive parts of Secretary’s remarks, namely that we hold and will continue hold Soviets fully to their occupation responsibilities.
Brandt thanked Senator for reassurance and expressed opinion that main source of misinterpretation was unfortunate comparison made between technical contacts between East and West Germans and Allied contacts with East Germans. Amrehn interjected that it true Soviets had transferred certain functions involving Germany to East German officials (even before establishment GDR) but that it was another kind of thing for Soviets.
Transfer occupation rights vis-à-vis Allies to East Germans. Brandt agreed forcefully with Amrehn’s opinion that Allied acceptance “agency theory” would qualitatively change Allied legal and actual position in Berlin. Brandt noted it perhaps fortunate that recent Russian note has thrust speculation concerning Secretary’s remarks into background. As result initial nervousness over these remarks on part some Berliners, Brandt noted parenthetically he had been criticized for not immediately telephoning Secretary or flying to the U.S. to talk to him as Brandt’s critics assert Mayor Reuter would have done.
Senator and Brandt then discussed general economic situation in a Soviet Zone and West Berlin. Governing Mayor expressed particular concern at fearfulness re Berlin’s future status and ability to perform contracts on part some Western businessmen and threat this attitude posed to continuing economic development West Berlin. In this connection Brandt stressed a most important task was to counteract such dangerous uncertainty.
In general discussion refugee situation Brandt remarked that Ulbricht in Daily Mail interview indicated communist intention turn West Berlin sector border into state border with accompanying intensified controls.
In conclusion Brandt told Senator, “Despite minor misunderstandings Berliners rely on their friends abroad and even though the pressure is intensified our friends abroad can rely on the Berliners. The spirit that carried the Berlin population through the blockade is still present.” The Senator noted that he had come to Berlin on this, his sixth or seventh, trip because of the current increased tension and that while here he also wished to assure the Governing Mayor that the recent American elections had not in any way changed U.S. basic policy. Senator referred with approval to Senator Humphrey’s recent statement concerning [Page 140] Berlin3 and to Senator Lyndon Johnson’s UN speech4 as designed show Russians and world that U.S. foreign policy was genuinely bipartite. Senator further informed Brandt he would say in press conference this afternoon that, in his conviction, American policy firm and unchanged re Berlin. Brandt thanked Senator for his thoughtfulness.
Senator’s visit has assisted greatly in reassuring top Berlin officials of firm U.S. support.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–2858. Also sent to Bonn and POLAD USAREUR and repeated to Moscow, London, and Paris.↩
- See Document 68.↩
- Hickenlooper, who had arrived in Berlin on November 27, cabled Dulles earlier in the day that his press conference had caused “alarm and consternation” because of the reference to “agency”. He went on to say that any acceptance of an “agency principle” would and already had had a “catastrophic” effect on the U.S. position and prestige in Berlin and all of Germany. (Telegram 419 from Berlin; Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/11–2858)↩
- Senator Humphrey had visited Berlin for 6 hours on November 23 and been briefed on the situation by Brandt, Burns, and Hamlett; toured West Berlin; and held a joint press conference with the Mayor at which he reiterated the U.S. position on Berlin. A brief report on his visit was transmitted in despatch 397 from Berlin, December 4. (ibid., 762A.00/12–458) A more detailed account of the visit is included in General Hamlett’s oral history interview at the U.S. Army Military History Institute.↩
- For text of Senator Johnson’s speech to the First Committee of the U.N. General Assembly, November 17, on the peaceful uses of outer space, see Official Records of the United Nations General Assembly, Thirteenth Session, First Committee, p. 208.↩