199. Telegram From the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (Norstad) to Secretary of Defense McNamara1

PRS 2741. 1. Having seen Berlin message 855, Bonn 1021, Moscow 1386, and having talked with Dowling on the phone, I wish to express my views on the serious situation now existing in Berlin.2

We are in a position from which we can move forward, backward, perhaps sideways, but we cannot stand still. In order that the actions we may be required to take over the next few days may lead to [Page 548] something other than an inevitable clash of arms, we must have a clear decision now. I suggest the following course of action be considered.
That we exploit to the maximum by every possible propaganda means, and get our Allies to do the same, the note struck yesterday afternoon to the effect that the responsibility of the Russians in East Germany and East Berlin, and the sovereignty in fact in that area, have now been clearly established by the presence of Soviet tanks and troops near the Friedrichstrasse check point.
That we restrict Russian entrance and exit to and from West Berlin to one gate, preferably other than Friedrichstrasse. Since the Soviets have done this to us, they must put up with a little pushing around on this point from us.
That the rules governing Soviet entrance into the Western sectors and the entrance of tripartite personnel into the Soviet Sector be placed on a completely reciprocal basis, emphasizing the fact that the Soviet personnel will show identification to West Berlin police where identification is required under the reciprocal arrangements. This is substantially the proposal made by Thompson in 1386 to the Dept of State. In this connection, we should emphasize the fact that we will show identification to the police at the check point, since the presence of Russian forces has established the fact that whether the police are German or Russian, they are still symbols of Russian authority.
That the President, thru Dowling, demand that German personalities who will play important roles in the new government accept and support this position. If in Dowling’s judgment I could be of help, I will of course respond to any request from him. I am confident, further, that Stikker, who carries great weight with the Germans, would be pleased to assist if called upon.
That agreement to support the above be obtained from the British and the French. If the French procrastinate, move ahead without agreement from them.
Unless accomplished speedily, the proposals made in this message would run the risk of being a step backward. I think therefore that we have no more than 24 hours in which to take action.
I know that the suggestion I have made herein is at best a step sideways. I firmly believe, however, it is the course of wisdom.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Germany, Berlin, Cables. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Also sent to Lemnitzer and repeated to Rusk and Dowling.
  2. Regarding telegram 1386, see footnote 4, Document 194. In telegram 1021, October 21, Dowling commented on the proposals made in telegram 1386 and suggested that Soviet access to West Berlin be restricted to those individuals involved in quadripartite activities. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/10-2761) Telegram 855, also October 27, transmitted the substance of a U.S. paper on countermeasures, which had been submitted to a Western Political Advisers’ meeting on that day. (Ibid., 862.181/10-2761) A transcript of Norstad’s telephone conversation with Dowling on October 28 is in the Eisenhower Library, Norstad Papers, Subject File, Dowling)