212. Memorandum From Colonel Lawrence J. Legere to the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)1
Washington, November 11, 1961.
- Deptel 1360 to Bonn (attached)2 on Documentation Within Berlin
- Department telegram 1360 to Bonn (and other appropriate posts) is
attached. The originators of the policy proposed in this message
apparently believe that its logic rests on two pillars of support:
- Our acceptance of the Wall meant de facto recognition of the end of free circulation in Berlin. Access to the Eastern Sector is not a vital interest; [Page 584]we will not shoot our way into East Berlin because, inter alia, it wouldn’t win the argument for us even if we did.
- To practice self-denial is nobler than submitting to VOPO demands that our military personnel in uniform produce identification; besides, it salvages a little of the free circulation principle.
- I question the logical sequence here. In fact, we may be failing
to follow our reasoning through to its logical conclusion. If free
circulation has been all but killed by the Soviets/GDR, why do we not administer the coup
de grace ourselves by immediately declaring East Berlin “Off Limits”
to all official US personnel? This move would have the following
- Assumption of the initiative, instead of holding our saliva until the Soviets/GDR ring the next change of bells.
- Logical consistency.
- Preclusion of inflammatory incidents.
- Avoidance of the humiliation, sure to be recorded in technicolor, of having US uniformed soldiers submit even once to VOPO turnback.
Dignified reservation for the conference table of our legal claim to the right of free circulation.
[1 paragraph (4 lines of source text) not declassified]
- In my opinion General Clay would support the above move, although the record is not absolutely clear in so demonstrating. During October he favored armed escorts rather than permitting civilian officials to show identification, and he has several times spoken favorably of “self-denial” as a proud principle (e.g., Berlin 864 and 927).3 He has, however, said that “if the demand is made for military personnel to show identification, I would recommend that we deny ourselves entry . . . .” (Berlin 920. Underlining supplied.)4 This latter sentence does not necessarily envision a VOPO-US-military confrontation at the checkpoint, but it is at least ambiguous.
- Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Box 38, 510 Partition of Berlin. Secret.↩
- Dated November 9. (Department of State, Central Files, 862.181/11-961) Not attached to the source text.↩
- Dated October 28 and November 11, respectively. (Ibid., 762.0221/10-2861 and 762.0221/11-361)↩
- Telegram 920 is printed as Document 202. The underlined text is printed here as italics; the ellipsis is in the source text.↩