85. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State0
1226. In my opinion both Soviet note and Khrushchev’s remarks to Senator Humphrey1 tend to confirm that principal immediate explanation of Soviet action is desire to remove an impediment to further development of Communism in East Germany (and possibly Poland). The Soviets have never shown themselves capable of tolerating any deviation within their system and emphasis of past year in entire Communist Bloc has been toward orthodoxy and away from revisionism. I believe most important element for Soviets is the escape route for refugees. The flight of doctors and intellectuals has shown the difficulties of bringing East Germany into line so long as the Berlin escape route is open.
Khrushchev’s long range objective is also clear, that is to absorb Berlin into GDR. Khrushchev has himself stated that our troops in Berlin serve no military purpose and he obviously would like to remove the guarantee they constitute of the continued freedom of West Berlin. I think it fair to state, however, that Khruchchev is also probably genuinely concerned at the threat to peace which could arise over the Berlin problem once Western Germany is fully armed.
While I think it would be possible to devise a solution to the Berlin problem which would be acceptable to us and reduce the current dangers in this situation, I do not see any solution likely to be acceptable to the Soviets which did not cut off the escape route and this I presume we could never accept. It is, of course, possible that if we show sufficient determination and unity, Khrushchev would accept some solution not fully satisfactory to him as a way of backing down from the dangerous situation in which he has placed himself. In any event I suggest we should be prepared to put forward counter proposals if only to strengthen our position in the event of a showdown and to increase unity among the Western powers. As a first step, however, believe we should make strong refutation distortions and lies in Soviet note and firm statement our intention maintain our rights by force if necessary. Reply should offer discuss the problem provided we have reasonable counter proposals to put forward.