23. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Department of State0

1799. Geneva eyes only for Sec Rusk. Bonn eyes only for Dowling. From Clay. While the tightening of the rope around our neck in West Berlin has never stopped, the rate was accelerated with the air corridor harassments which began in early February prior to Geneva. The shooting of member of British Military Mission and shooting at car of member of our Mission which could have resulted in wounding or murder of occupant cannot be considered as separate isolated events but as a part of a pattern. Delays in clearing convoys, demands to search trucks, continued tailings in East Berlin all fit into this pattern. Also, visa charge tried out as test marks the initial inclusion of West German traffic in the pattern. With Geneva further evidence of Soviet intransigence its failure is almost certain to bring the rope still tighter. Notes may be fine for the record, but to stop this pattern we must be much more determined and stronger on the ground and in the air than we have been to date. I am convinced that retaliatory action against Soviet Mission is far more effective than a note and if we are not prepared to protect our own Mission to this degree we should withdraw it.

I think too we must be ready if harassment increases to show our strength in the air; to refuse to accept delays on the Autobahn; and to meet each restriction in German traffic with countermeasures of blockade and harassment elsewhere.

I hope that I am proved wrong and that we do not have to face increasing pressures. We are not going to stop Khrushchev and Ulbricht by wailing at the wall. Today, after thirteen years of pressure, we have no immediate course of action to meet any challenge. We must get our house in order so that we can move instantly, even if unilaterally, as hesitation and delay can quickly force us into a position where our only choice is war.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/3–2362. Secret; Priority. Received at 2:40 p.m. Also sent to Geneva and Bonn.