58. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and Secretary of the Treasury Dillon 1


  • Berlin

The President wishes to ensure that any possibilities for exploiting a Berlin crisis to advance our constructive long-term purposes are fully exploited. To this end, studies of the following questions are requested by August 4, in addition to the more immediate studies already underway:

Long-Term Military Strength. What steps might be taken to ensure that our preparations for the Berlin crisis have the maximum lasting effect on NATO’s military posture consistent with their immediate purpose? The Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the Secretary of State.
Greater Atlantic Cohesion. What steps might be taken to exploit the felt need for greater inter-dependence which is likely to characterize a period of Berlin tensions and preparations, in order to hasten progress toward increased Atlantic military, political and economic cohesion? For example:
In the military field, seeking agreement on the concept of a NATO missile force which would be truly multilateral in ownership and control, as outlined in the President’s Ottawa speech2—possibly beginning [Page 177] with the longest range ballistic missiles already committed for NATO deployment, i.e., Pershings?
In the economic field, instituting arrangements to share the increased burdens likely to be associated with any prolonged Berlin crisis which could point the way toward larger patterns of burden-sharing and constructive joint action in such other economic fields as trade and reserves?

In the political field, taking new steps toward the long-term goal of a wider community?

The Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretaries of Defense and Treasury, as appropriate.

Political Settlements. Are there useful political settlements, which might not ordinarily be feasible but which might conceivably be acceptable to our allies and to the Soviets if a Berlin crisis dramatized the need for drastic measures to render the Berlin and German situation less explosive? For example:
A Central European settlement which would hold some realistic promise of resolving the German problem?
As part of such a settlement, otherwise, a Berlin settlement which would not only get us over the immediate crisis, but also make future crises less likely—by bringing the access routes under some form of Western or international control?

The Secretary of State.

McGeorge Bundy 3
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Germany, Berlin. Secret. The source text bears no drafting information but a marginal notation reads: “Sent to H[yannis] P[ort] week end of 7/8/61.”
  2. For text of President Kennedy’s address to the Canadian Parliament, May 17, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pp. 382-387.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.