259. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State1

11203. Subject: GDR interference with Berlin access. Ref: Bonn 11159; Bonn 11202.2

I am convinced that the succession of East German measures aimed at interfering with German access to Berlin poses a serious challenge [Page 659] which we must meet. Otherwise the East Germans will be encouraged to escalate their pressure on West Berlin and, as FonMin Brandt has stressed, the psychological effect in West Berlin could jeopardize the city’s viability.
It seems to me that we face two requirements. First, we must show sufficient public reaction to prove that the three Allies and the FRG are actively defending free access. Otherwise there will be increasing media criticism—particularly if instances of access denial recur—and the United States in particular will be singled out for refusing to take a firm position with the Sovs concerning Berlin for fear of prejudicing our relations with the Sovs in other areas. Publicized protests however will not be effective unless accompanied by effective measures designed to persuade the Sovs and the East Germans to bring about cessation of access harassment.
With this in mind we are proposing the following steps in a Quadripartite meeting this afternoon3 in the hope of achieving agreement on recommendations to be made to capitals for approval:
In order to clarify the policy being followed by the GDR the FRG should arrange for several probes in which FRG officials of varying ranks should attempt to drive to or from Berlin.
A formal protest should be drafted from the three Ambs to Abrasimov covering the specific instances which can be documented of persons denied surface access to Berlin as the result of the latest East German order.
In accordance with Ruete’s suggestion, the American Amb in Moscow should make a quiet approach to the Sov Govt in behalf of the three Allies pointing to various recent steps taken by East German authorities such as the ban on NPD travel, the East German citizenship law and the present ban on FRG official travel, noting that a certain escalation of East German pressure is apparent and emphasizing the seriousness with which we view these developments. He could inquire what the Soviet intentions with regard to Berlin are, noting that in our view nothing is to be gained by an increase in tension in connection with the city.
Agreement should be reached among the three Allies and the FRG on countermeasures against the East German harassments. A list should be prepared which must include German as well as Allied and [Page 660] NATO-wide counteractions, since otherwise the required Allied cooperations cannot be expected.
As soon as agreement is reached on such a list NATO should be briefed in detail on the Quadripartite assessment of the threat to free Berlin access and on the various actions, including countermeasures, taken or proposed by the three powers and the FRG. If increased TTD restrictions are proposed, NATO agreement on this will be sought. In NATO the German Rep might be given the responsibility for the general presentation.
The recommendation for a further protest to Abrasimov is not in accord with the thinking expressed by Ruete yesterday (first reftel). However, I am convinced that some further publicized move by the three Allies will be required to meet press criticism here and eventually in the US alleging an inadequate Tripartite response.
In the event that the British or French do not wish to go along with a quiet approach in Moscow I believe that we should give serious thought to a unilateral US démarche. We shall [have] further recommendations on this when the outcome of today’s meeting is known. In the meantime I have just learned that I will be seeing Abrasimov for a final call on May 3. I would expect to use this occasion to raise the access issue with Abrasimov. This conversation could be publicized or kept confidential, depending on the circumstances at the time and Abrasimov’s response.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files,POL 28 GER B. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated to Berlin, Paris, London, Moscow, USNATO, USAREUR,EUCOM, and USELMLO.
  2. Telegram 11159 from Bonn, April 23, reported three instances of East German interference with access to Berlin. (Ibid.) Telegram 11202 from Bonn, April 24, reported on the German presentation to the Quadripartite meeting regarding access. (Ibid.)
  3. The Embassy reported on the meeting in telegram 11259 from Bonn, April 25. (Ibid.) A statement by the three powers was released following the meeting. The text was transmitted in telegram 11338 from Bonn, April 26. (Ibid.) Subsequently, the three Ambassadors addressed a letter of protest to Abrasimov. The text of this letter was transmitted in telegram 11339 from Bonn, March 26. (Ibid.) The Mission in Berlin reported on its démarche to the Soviets in telegram 1352, March 29. (Ibid.)