245. Editorial Note

On December 23, 1961, Major General Watson, U.S. Commandant for Berlin, who was going to Karlshorst to keep an appointment with Colonel Solovyev, his Soviet counterpart, was refused access to the Eastern sector of Berlin when he refused to show identity cards for his civilian advisers. Watson immediately protested this action and Ambassador Dowling sent a similar protest to Soviet Ambassador Pervukhin. (Telegrams 1232 and 1233 from Berlin, December 23; Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/12-2361) The next day the Mission at Berlin suggested that this was a deliberate affront that demanded counteraction, and proposed that the Soviet Commandant be barred from the U.S. Sector unless corrective measures were taken. (Telegram 1236 from Berlin; ibid., 862.181/12-2461)

On the same day Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Bundy called Secretary of State Rusk and told him that the President believed the United States “should do something but not something excessive” about the situation. (Ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations) When no remedial action was forthcoming by December 27, Watson sent Solovyev a second letter prohibiting him and his Political Adviser from entering the U.S. Sector until corrective measures had been taken. (Telegram 1243 from Berlin, December 27; ibid., Central Files, 762.0221/12-2761)