22. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Department of State0
350. Reference: ourtel 348 to Department, 306 to Bonn.1 This is part two of three-part message.2 At 11 a.m. Wednesday Mayor Brandt called in USBER liaison officer, confirmed to him briefly substance ourtel 346 to Dept 304 to Bonn3 and said after preliminary conference with Senat he favored repetition of Tuesday’s action to remove newly hoisted East German flags. Uniformed police commander Duensing under orders prepare for action lasting from 3 to 5 p.m.; only flags flying on S-Bahn stations proper to be removed, no removal to be attempted of flags from large installations (rail yards, repair shops) where strong resistance encountered yesterday and where terrain made police operations difficult. Brandt said that stronger resistance likely to be encountered today but he felt West Berlin authorities should not yield after only one attempt. If [Page 62] force again encountered they would be in position address Allies with formal report bringing to their attention situation that East was carrying out on West Berlin territory activities unconnected with safeguarding S-Bahn services. Senat documentation would show East utilizing S-Bahn territory as base of operations against West Berlin. Brandt said he hoped contemplated action could be accomplished without bloodshed although police had of course insisted on permission to shoot if attacked. Removal of 70 percent of East German flags would make clear West Berlin intent not to tolerate provocation of population by displaying East German emblem.
At 12:30 Berlin Senat, avoiding press, met at undisclosed location to take final decision. According Senat Protocol Chief Klein Senat after one and half hour meeting about evenly split on advisability of taking further action, with Governing Mayor casting deciding vote to go ahead with plan as outlined above.
As result of political advisers meeting late morning Chairman (British) Liaison Officer communicated orally to Governing Mayor at 2:15 p.m. following message from Commandants: 1) Commandants would appreciate being immediately informed of Senat’s decision re further action against flags; 2) Commandants suggest that before taking further action Senat consult with them. Brandt immediately said he abiding by wish of Commandants and would therefore call off action planned for 3 p.m. since there no time for consultation with Commandants prior to 3 p.m. Possibility that action might be taken later in afternoon was countered by Brandt with argument he would not favor action during rush hour and lasting until after dark.
Commandants met with Brandt and Amrehn at 4 p.m. Since General Hamlett absent I as Acting Commandant attended meeting accompanied by General D’Orsa (CG Berlin Command). Deputy Commandants and PolAds also present.
Mayor reported on Tuesday’s events saying in regular Senat session question of flags was discussed; since population would regard raising of flags as provocation police were instructed remove them. Senat wanted to repeat action on Wednesday but postponed it when informed that Allied Commandants wished to be consulted. However, Brandt said, even if police were to take no action trouble might develop because numerous West Berliners, especially workers, had sent messages to City Hall announcing intention remove flags. Berlin DGB had addressed letter to him saying that if Senat did not take action it would have to bear responsibility for disturbances arising from possibility that West Berlin workers would take matter in hand. Workers at Siemenstadt Electrical Works sent message threatening remove East German flag in S-Bahn installation Siemenstadt.[Page 63]
Brandt said there was even more important side to this problem. Yesterday’s incidents disclosed most serious state of affairs inasmuch as East Germans had resorted to violent action against West Berlin police. Information received during course of Wednesday indicated that several hundred Kampfgruppen in civilian clothes were brought to S-Bahn installations, demonstrating that Communists able to bring on short notice large numbers of subversive elements into West Berlin with clear intent of making trouble.
Commandants told Brandt they would draw attention of Sov Commandant to this situation. It was felt that démarche, even if it did not produce desired result, would benefit allied position with public opinion if Communists were given warning that if they did not cease their provocation full responsibility for anything that happened would be on them. Furthermore, Mayor Brandt had indicated that under any circumstances further police action should not be undertaken until tomorrow morning since it not desirable conduct police action at night. No further police action was to be taken until result of protest ascertainable, except for maintenance law and order.
It was then agreed that Governing Mayor would issue following statement to press.
Begin text. Governing Mayor Willy Brandt and Mayor Amrehn discussed this afternoon with three Allied Commandants in Berlin question of flying of new DDR flag on S-Bahn stations and other S-Bahn property. Mayor Brandt explained to three Commandants that flying this flag within territory of West Berlin was regarded by people of West Berlin as provocative and was widely resented. He added S-Bahn had been used to introduce into West Berlin gangs of trouble-makers from the East. The Berlin Senat will continue to maintain the closest contact with three commands re this question. In meantime, Berlin Senat expresses hope that people of West Berlin for their part will avoid any act which might lead to an undesirable incident. End text.
As of 11 p.m. Wednesday only one unconfirmed incident reported that of some twenty West Berliners removing flag from Wilmersdorf Station.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762B.04/10–859. Confidential; Niact. Received at 12:48 a.m. Repeated to Moscow, priority to Bonn, Paris, and London.↩
- Dated October 8, 3 p.m., telegram 348 from Berlin transmitted a summary of the legal position of S-Bahn property in West Berlin. (Ibid.)↩
- The three-part message consisted of telegram 348 (see footnote 1 above), telegram 350, and telegram 351. In telegram 351, also dated October 8 and transmitted at 5 a.m., Lightner reported that the British and French were unwilling to make a personal démarche to the Soviet Commandant about the raising of the flags, but agreed to send Zakharov a message asking him to put an end to such activities. (Ibid.)↩
- Telegram 346 from Berlin, October 7, reported that the new East German flags that had been raised in West Berlin over S-Bahn property had, in some cases, been removed by police, but that in other cases attempts to remove the flags had been repulsed by East German railroad workers. (Ibid., 762B.04/10–759)↩