235. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State 0

1677. Paris also for USRO and Burns; USAREUR and CINCEUR for POLADs. Autobahn convoy.

If, despite approach to Sov Charge and setting of time limit,1 Sovs continue block passage of convoy, I believe we should follow two-pronged course designed (a) to put maximum pressure on SovGovt from point of view its relations with US and (b) to intensify confrontation on Autobahn (withoutany threat of resort to arms) to point where Sovs realize we not likely to back down and Sov posture of detente placed in jeopardy.
To do this I would suggest following:
US Charge in Moscow should be instructed make urgent approach highestavailable level emphasizing serious impact Autobahn harassments could have on our efforts find areas of accommodation with USSR.
As soon as possible thereafter non-dismount convoy, of approximately same makeup as US–2, should be dispatched from Berlin westward. If held up publicity, and pressure on Sovs, certain to mount.
Agreement of other governments should be sought to authorize Live Oak to order Free Style assembly.2 Word of this will undoubtedly reach Moscow, particularly in light recent activation, and would make Sovs realize they face more intensified tripartite action.
British and French Govts should be requested make supporting demarches in Moscow, emphasizing Sov interference with Berlin access is matter of most serious joint concern.
If no progress made in 48 hours some form of tripartite convoy should be launched, clearly in non-dismount category. Some modification of Free Style might be used for thispurpose. Important point would [Page 623] be to emphasize tripartite nature of exercise. If passageprevented, Sovs will stand in defiance all three govts and should by then be under most serious pressure both in terms of worldwide publicity and prospects of imminent deflation of their peaceful coexistence posture.
I believe approach along above lines would have good chance of success without serious danger of exchange of fire. If it fails, then we would be clearly in second phase of contingency plans with invocation of further diplomatic pressures, non military countermeasures, and preparatory military and precautionary measures.
NATO should, of course, be kept fully informed.
Foregoing has been discussed over KY–9 with Gen Polk who concurs. Suggest Lemnitzer may also wish comment directly to Washington.
If Department approves course of action suggested, it may wish to alert Allies in Washington today,3 or authorize us to do so here where we have time advantage.4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 38–10. Secret; Immediate. Received at 6:58 p.m. and passed to the White House at 7:50 p.m. and to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the JCS, and the CIA at 8:03 p.m. Repeated to Berlin, Moscow, Paris, London, USAREUR, CINCEUR, and U.S. Element Live Oak.
  2. Regarding the approach to the Soviet Charge, see Document 234. At 10 p.m. the U.S. Provost Marshal with the convoy had delivered a 2-hour time limit ultimatum for release of the convoy; at midnight, when the time limit ran out, the convoy attempted to move forward, but was blocked by Soviet APCs. (Telegram 621 from Berlin, November 5; Department of State, Central Files, POL 38–10)
  3. At 7:30 p.m. Washington time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a Flash message, ordered the assembly of a Free Style probe. (JCS 3399 to CINCEUR; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Germany, Berlin, Autobahn Crisis)
  4. The Department of State informed the Washington Ambassadorial Group along these lines at a meeting at 10 p.m. (Telegram 1353 to Bonn, November 4; Department of State Central Files, POL 38–10)
  5. At 3 a.m. on November 5, the Mission at Berlin transmitted its strong endorsement of this course of action. (Telegram 610 from Berlin; ibid.) 3 4