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

354. From Timberlake.1 I arrived Berlin by night train morning seventh for long scheduled two-day visit. Had previously arranged courtesy call on Mayor Brandt which took place 0945 this morning.

After exchange usual pleasantries, I noted problem created by East German flags hoisted over S-Bahn installations and asked Mayor’s views on seriousness situation and what measures might be taken (to remove flags).

Brandt said East German action provocative, dangerous to maintenance law and order and, in his opinion, against all interests in Berlin. We reviewed chronology events so far, noting Commandants then meeting,2 after which I asked Brandt his estimate possibility renewed resistance in event police action removing flags renewed. He said would expect renewed and possibly stronger resistance.

He added might be feasible send one of existing joint (German and American manned) patrol jeeps along with German police squad to stand by but not participate in action to remove flag if such course eventually decided upon. In his view such presence Allied Force member might emphasize serious allied view of problem and persuade East Germans take no action against West German police.

I said it seemed East Germans were now in good position play a waiting game and could make their point simply by keeping flags flying duration anniversary celebrations. I said question taking action is, of course, problem coordination on Allied as well as German side. I added, as personal observation, that I assumed, should workers from West Berlin remove flags (as letter from DGB to Brandt indicated), police would, of course, have to intervene because such an overt threat to law and order could not be tolerated.

Brandt replied by stating Senator Lipschitz, who as Interior Senator controls police, had been called back from vacation and arrived this morning. He added, somewhat cryptically, that Lipschitz might be in [Page 65] position “Play both cards, police and those who feel provoked by East German action.”

I endorse strong position taken by US Reps Commandants’ meeting and believe we should continue press for agreed tripartite action to remove flags before it becomes too late. Seems evident (see USBER tel 353 to Dept) that wraps must be taken off Brit and French Reps (particularly latter) before we can expect them agree to what we consider minimum adequate response to this challenge.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/10–859. Secret. Received at 6:10 p.m. Repeated to London, Paris, and Moscow.
  2. Clare H. Timberlake, Minister-Counselor of the Embassy in Bonn.
  3. At the Commandants’ 4-hour meeting on October 8, the United States strongly urged authorization of West Berlin police action to remove East German flags from S-Bahn property before the end of the day. The British and French Commandants stated they could not take such action without governmental permission and the French stressed the risk of provoking clashes. (Telegram 353 from Berlin, October 8 at 9 p.m.; Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/10–859)
  4. At midnight on October 8, Lightner reported that since 8 p.m. East German workers had removed all the flags from the S-Bahn property in West Berlin. (Telegram 359 from Berlin; ibid., 762B.04/10–859).