87. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State0

1232. Deptel 927.1 Question of reason for East Berlin’s exclusion from “free city” plan was put informally by Western diplomats to Gromyko on November 28 and Mikoyan and Gromyko on November 29. Points made in their replies were that unification of two parts of city [Page 155] with different social systems would be as unrealistic as reunification Germany, that GDR capital and government were actually in East Berlin, that East sector was closely tied to GDR in economic matters, and that future moves toward “confederation” required each German state to have own territory and capital.

To these typically Soviet arguments might be added Moscow’s desire to preserve control of all territory now effectively in its orbit and Kremlin unwillingness to let citizens of Communist area vote overwhelmingly for non-Communist parties (as East Berliners probably would if given chance).

Nevertheless, we should by no means exclude possibility that Soviets not only have various fallback positions on Berlin for possible eventual use, but also have number of further moves planned for next six months to keep their initiative on question and to keep West off balance. Such moves need not be limited to pressure tactics but could include political devices to make Khrushchev proposal less unattractive.

In this context, Soviet offer to include East Berlin is conceivable, and would undoubtedly be appealing to many because for first time since Berlin crisis started, East would also appear to be offering tangible concession to “reasonableness”. No doubt Soviets are genuinely reluctant to try this approach on above-noted grounds, and it is logical for them to be sounding out “third parties” and dropping hints to test reactions of West. If Western governments seem to reject it firmly, this might increase Soviet willingness to make offer (on theory that it is unlikely to be accepted), but they might still do it even though they expected to be called on to implement proposal.

Only specific rumor I have heard here is that reported Embtel 1193.2 Since Presidium discussions of this importance do not leak accidentally this must be either purely speculative rumor or else deliberate plant.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/12–858. Secret; Priority. Repeated to London, Paris, Belgrade, Bonn, and Berlin.
  2. Telegram 927, December 6, reported that Austrian and German diplomats were told by Soviet officials that the Soviet Union would agree to include the Eastern sector of Berlin in a city to be placed under U.N. protection, and asked if the Embassy in Moscow had heard similar reports. (Ibid., 762.00/12–658)
  3. Telegram 1193, December 2, reported that Ambassador Kroll heard that the Presidium had discussed the possibility of including East Berlin in a free city, but had rejected the proposal as a step backward. (Ibid., 762.00/12–258)