81. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Department of State0

429. Paris: USCINCEUR, USRO Thurston and West. From Bruce. I had talk with Willy Brandt this afternoon.1 His thoughts summarized as follows:


Allies should deal not with problem of Berlin alone but rather of whole of Germany.

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Thinks Soviets have not presented a minimum but maximum program. Believes it not probable Soviets would go to war at this time. Might even agree to closer relationship between West Berlin and West Zone if they had a quid pro quo, especially in way of shutting off flow of refugees, and stopping freedom of movement of secret agents. Best solution from Soviet standpoint would be to take over Berlin, but this is not politically realistic. Soviets can already stop refugee movement if they apply their energies and facilities to it. Therefore, will probably institute strictly controlled boundary line in Berlin. Refugee question and that of underground activities is not their only motivating force, for prestige is also involved.

Re agency relationship between Ger and Soviet Govt. Berliners astonished as they would not have been a week previously, because von Brentano who was here preceding week had expressed himself as thinking such a concept quite impossible. As result of this, and conversations between Klein and van Scherpenberg, Berlin authorities had concluded whole idea had been given up and Allies would resort to airlift, or even maintenance of surface access by force. Theoretically, de facto recognition even on an ad hoc basis would not have been so alarming to Berlin authorities, if there were not a psychological aspect as well. Consequently, the acceptance by Allies of any assertion of GDR authority at check points as agents of Soviets would now be disastrous. This matter, however, had been at least momentarily obscured by Soviet note, but the feeling just expressed still remained. This would be regarded as first step on slippery slope.
Maintenance of US garrison in Berlin is most important single thing US can do. Brandt would prefer it to be strengthened in sense of seeming to have been even if substantially little military weight were added. Showing of new units in streets would be useful.
Berliners would like FedRep to be prepared to break off diplomatic relations with Soviets, but would not expect other nations to do it. However, cannot suggest such move at this time, in view standstill nature of Soviet note. This action should be reserved for possible future use.
Berliners do not want repetition of guarantees; US at appropriate time should again refer to them, but they should be taken for granted.
There should be a statement by Allies that Soviet proposal is under study and an answer will be forthcoming. The eventual reply should present Western case even if not directly responsive to substance of Soviet note. Believes no immediate response or acknowledgement of Soviet note is required but there should be a preliminary answer in early January.
One matter is of overriding importance. Namely Soviet understanding that effective interference, especially on air routes, with Allied military communications between West Germany and Berlin will entail US war directly against Soviet Union.
Brandt thinks he should be invited to attend Paris meeting of four Foreign Ministers during that part of it devoted to Berlin problem. He intends taking this up with Chancellor next week.
He does not intend to make visit now to United States. He had been invited to do so some time ago by NBC but is inclined to postpone acceptance until next year. I advised him to stick to this decision.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–3058. Confidential; Priority Repeated to London, Paris, Moscow, and Bonn.
  2. Bruce visited Berlin November 30–December 1, largely to participate in the dedication of the new Hilton Hotel in the city; see Document 83.