107. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany1

350. Paris also for USRO Stoessel and Finn. Four Power Ambassadorial Steering Group met today consider Allied reaction GDR sector boundary restrictions. Following points covered:

Commandants Protest—Discussed text submitted by Berlin. Agreed delivery urgent. UK and French promised contact Govs. (This is subject another Deptel.)2
Protest to USSR in Moscow—US stated prepared consider protest at this level in addition Commandants protest. Others agreed this seemed desirable. French said Paris sending proposed text Washington today. It was agreed review text here tomorrow.

TTD ban—US reported on private NATO meeting, consensus of which was favorable to ban. Stated we saw pros and cons. Danger existed GDR would retaliate by imposing restrictions Western travel to East Berlin, as it did last fall. In addition, GDR presumably would hold controls for long period, and removal ban while controls still in effect would be embarrassing. On other hand, if West took no action other than protest, West Berlin would feel let down and Soviets would interpret our inaction as weakness in context larger Berlin situation. We wondered if ATO could simply close down on grounds GDR preventing East Germans from entering West Berlin, hence impossible issue them TTDs. UK stated FonOff saw same danger US mentioned, inclined hold ban until Western travel affected. French uninstructed but felt ban useful. Germans noted Von Brentano had already proposed ban to three Ambassadors.3 Said FedRep would take parallel action denying issuance passports East Germans. Three Embassies agreed seek Gov views.

Comments Bonn and Berlin (in addition any already made) requested urgently, particularly on pros and cons mentioned above.


Other retaliatory measures—US asked views on other possible countermeasures. Following were mentioned: boycott Leipzig Fair (Germans felt they could not cooperate since included IZT agreement); cut off cultural exchanges; prevent bloc attendance Western fairs; break off US-Soviet air agreement; prevent travel Western citizens to GDR [Page 330] (French and Germans could not carry out). It was agreed any retaliation might well be taken against Soviet bloc as whole, since GDR action implemented Warsaw Pact decision. Generally agreed trade countermeasures should mainly be saved for more serious development involving Western access or German civilian traffic.

Comments all addressees requested urgently.4

Propaganda exploitation—Agreed this most important. British presented list themes which generally acceptable. US agreed work theme into its information effort.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/8-1461. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Day and approved by Kohler. Also sent to Berlin and repeated to Paris, London, and Moscow.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 105.
  3. See Document 106.
  4. On August 15 the Embassy in Bonn replied that a total ban on East German travel should be instituted, and noted that prominent Germans were urging German businesses not to participate in the Leipzig Fair and that the Federal Republic would cooperate in cutting off cultural exchanges. (Telegram 333; Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/8-1561) The Mission at Berlin replied on the same day stressing that a future challenge to the West in Berlin might be more serious, and countermeasures should be used as a deterrent rather than as retaliation. For this reason, although realizing that they might be dangerous, the Mission stated that economic and trade countermeasures could not be neglected except at “grave risk to our position in Berlin.” (Telegram 211; ibid., 762.00/8-1561)