191. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at Berlin1

596. Bonn eyes only for Ambassador. Berlin eyes only for Clay. Re Berlin’s 824 to Department.2 We have instructed Ambassador Thompson who has just returned to Moscow to see Gromyko in order to protest harassments at Friedrichstrasse crossing.3 (Ambassador Menshikov presently in Moscow attending Party Congress and consensus here is that calling in Soviet Chargé would be considerably less effective than approach in Moscow.)

I fear that you overestimate retaliatory effect of “cutting off talks” which have been in suspense for some weeks and for resumption of which there is no scheduled meeting. Feel termination of diplomatic contacts on subject of Berlin as form of reprisal against Soviets is questionable concept. As matter of fact, such contacts may provide useful channel for transmission of our protests and demands for maintenance of status quo. I have not regarded talks with Gromyko as a search for negotiations but rather as effort determine whether any basis for negotiations exists. It still remains in our national interest to ascertain this especially since we shall, within near future, be faced with number of important decisions on our further military build-up which can only be made in light more knowledge than we now have regarding effect on Soviet position our build-up to date as well as other current factors influencing Soviet policy.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/10-2561. Top Secret; Priority. Drafted by Hillenbrand, cleared by Kohler, and initialed and approved by Rusk. Repeated to Bonn.
  2. Telegram 824, October 25, received at 12:34 p.m., again recommended calling in the Soviet Ambassador and, if that failed to produce results, closing the crossing point to U.S. vehicles. (Ibid.)
  3. The instructions were transmitted to Thompson in telegram 1131 to Moscow, October 25, 7:27 p.m. (Ibid.) On October 26 Clay responded that the protest in Moscow probably would not serve any purpose and might force a hardening of the Soviet position. He favored further harassing tactics in Berlin until the United States made discontinuance of Friedrichstrasse activities the price for negotiations on Berlin. (Telegram 834 from Berlin; ibid., 762.0221/10-2661)