198. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union 1

1165. Eyes only for Ambassadors—Paris for Finletter and Stoessel—eyes only. You should request appointment with Gromyko at earliest possible opportunity. At meeting you should convey orally personal message to him from me along lines indicated below, at conclusion handing him Aide-Mémoire (text in separate telegram)2 which designed for publication in event Soviets release text memorandum handed to you by Gromyko on October 27.

[Page 546]
It is a source of surprise and chagrin to me that recent developments in Berlin at the Friedrichstrasse crossing point between West Berlin and East Berlin have created highly dangerous situation.
I find it incomprehensible in light of our talks with him in the US that Soviet Government has permitted unilateral actions to be taken upsetting 16 years of practice followed by civilian officials of the US Occupation in Berlin in entering East Berlin.
I find it impossible to reconcile what has happened in Berlin with his statement to the Moscow Party Congress on October 253 in which he expressed hope for improvement of relations with Western Powers, particularly US, and that those relations would return to basis of Roosevelt period.
It appears to me that this action must have been designed to create maximum difficulties for US in our expressed hope that exploratory talks could lead to a basis for a peaceful solution to the Berlin question.
Not only does such unilateral action make continuance of fruitful talks between us difficult but it seems designed to embarrass the US for having adopted public responsibility in the thought that talks could be fruitful in the first place.
Foreign Minister Gromyko will recall that, in our talks, we agreed both sides should do all they could to refrain from unilateral action changing existing procedures which would exacerbate an already serious situation. Yet actions by police authorities of the East German regime changing procedures which have existed for many years were permitted to take place without any prior discussion with us on your part.
It should have been clear from our talks that we could not accept any extension of activities by GDR officials except to extent worked out in agreement between us. The attempt at this time to make Berlin sector boundary a definitive frontier is something I cannot understand, particularly since Gromyko must appreciate the sensitivity of boundary question.
Before situation which is already serious becomes more grave I would hope you and your Government would consider effects which unilateral action taken by representatives of the East German regime must have, if permitted to continue, on relations between our two countries.
In order to provide for a cooling-off period the US Government has instructed that any further entry into East Berlin by Allied official civilians accompanied by military escort be deferred. I would hope that during this period representatives of the Soviet Union and the US [Page 547] would be able to work out some agreed procedure which would permit resumption of normal movement into East Berlin.
Mr. Gromyko must surely understand that serious discussions about Germany and Berlin cannot take place under conditions of duress and increased tension. It is obvious that unless a satisfactory solution to this immediate problem can be found it would make impossible profitable discussion of those broader questions to which we should be addressing ourselves.

If Gromyko response is any way positive you should in your discretion make points in numbered paragraphs one and two and in immediately following paragraph of Deptel 1146 to Moscow.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/10-2861. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Hillenbrand, cleared in draft by Rusk, and approved and initialed by Kohler. Repeated to London, Paris, Bonn, and Berlin.
  2. Telegram 1166, October 28. (Ibid.)
  3. For text of Gromyko’s speech, see Pravda, October 26, 1961.
  4. Paragraph 1 of telegram 1146, October 26, stated that Americans in civilian dress would show identity documents if the Soviets reopened all 12 access points; paragraph 2 stated they would show them if the Soviets opened entry points between the Soviet Zone and each of the three Western sectors. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/10-2661)