106. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State1

318. My British and French colleagues and I met with Brentano this morning at his request for discussion on Berlin.2 Foreign Minister said he viewed restrictions on Berlin travel as most alarming, and felt this first move would be followed quickly by further restrictions (perhaps selective control of movements of West Berliners and West Germans to East Berlin, or even on access routes to West Berlin) if Western reaction not prompt and vigorous. There ensued discussion of Communist motivation, with Brentano and Seydoux, while recognizing role of refugee flow in Bloc decision, inclined to believe they may be attempting to test Western reaction to gradual establishment of free city concept, while Steele and I considered Ulbricht’s hand had been forced by refugee flow. There was full agreement, however, that result was same, regardless of motivation, and that Western reaction to this most serious breach of quadripartite agreement thus far would certainly affect future Communist moves. There was further agreement that two immediate steps should be recommended:

Written protest by Commandants, which should be made “on instructions”, to be followed fairly quickly by notes to Moscow. There was inconclusive discussion whether three Ambassadors should endeavor to see Pervukin, since all three of us expect to be in Berlin this week.
Widest possible ban on East German travel, to be agreed by four governments and presented to NAC for concurrence at earliest possible date.

Brentano said further that Bundestag session scheduled for August 22 would probably be called this week to hear governmental declaration and to make clear government and opposition united on Berlin.

It was assumed that Washington Steering Group would be meeting today for decision on Western countermeasures, and all agreed that promptness of our reactions was vital factor.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/8-1461. Secret; Priority. Received at 9:26 a.m. Repeated to London, Paris, Moscow, and Berlin.
  2. For another account of this meeting, see Cates, The Ides of August, pp. 366-369.