105. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Department of State1
185. Paris for Embassy, USRO, Stoessel and Finn. At noon meeting of Commandants, Deputy Commandants and POLADs with GovMayor accompanied by Amrehn and Senator Klein, Brandt expressed concern re anticipated psychological reaction to East German measures.2 He mentioned dangerous possibility of desperate actions by populace, warning that in course of day and night large crowds of people might assemble on both sides of sector boundary, creating public safety problem; West Berlin police alerted to possibility of incidents on Western side.
Senat carefully weighing every word released to public, advising West Berliners continue normal tasks and cautioning them against ill-considered actions. Senat neither urging border crossers from East report for work in West Berlin nor advising them stay in SovSector, but stating that their rights in West Berlin (to continue employment, social security, etc.) being safeguarded.
Under increasing pressure from local as well as foreign press representatives, Senat is emphasizing unlawful and inhumane nature of latest Eastern measures. House of Representatives convening in special session this evening to hear Brandt’s report on situation. At his invitation Commandants and Deputy Commandants will attend. Brandt indicated Senat considering holding mass protest rally but no decision yet.3
Brandt summed up Senat evaluation that East regime action gross violation of existing rights, including Four-Power status of Berlin, and specifically Four-Power agreements of 1949, restoring status quo ante blockade. He emphasized significance of measures which East had threatened to take only after realization of so-called peace treaty and establishment “demilitarized free city of West Berlin,” and stressed illegality of Warsaw Pact instructions to “GDR” government to take measures on Berlin territory. On basis of above evaluation of Eastern [Page 327] measures, Brandt said Senat believes Western diplomatic steps vis-a-vis SovUnion might be warranted at high level, although Commandants presumably might simultaneously consider new steps vis-a-vis Sov Commandant. Brandt mentioned in this connection that Commandants’ protest letters re border crossers (Berlin’s 114 Bonn, 131 Dept)4 not answered, but that situation now radically changed. Brandt also mentioned that he understood quadripartite conversations in progress at high level concerning means available to West (specifically economic measures) to counter latest Communist moves, in order demonstrate that West not prepared to submit tacitly to latest Eastern measures.
Chairman Commandant told GovMayor that Commandants carefully following developments, considering actions to be taken; they fully in agreement with GovMayor’s efforts maintain calm atmosphere.
In view Department’s press release Aug 13 and telephonic instruction, tripartitely agreed press statement5 prepared here was replaced by following brief tripartite statement to local press:
“An Allied spokesman today said the three Western Commandants in Berlin have fully informed their governments and any comment must be expected from the capitals.”
After special session House of Representatives this evening Commandants are meeting re terms and method of formal protest to Sov Commandant.6
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 862.181/8-1361. Confidential; Priority. Received at 4:50 p.m. Also sent to Bonn and repeated to London, Moscow, Paris, and POLADUSAREUR.↩
- For two other accounts of this meeting, see Begegnungen und Einsichten, pp. 10-13, and Cates, The Ides of August, pp. 300-304. The Western Commandants and their staffs had met at 10 a.m. to discuss the closing of the sector borders. For accounts of this meeting, see McDermott, Berlin, pp. 32-33, and Cates, The Ides of August, pp. 298-300. Amrehn, Brandt, and Klein joined this meeting about noon.↩
- The Mission at Berlin reported on this session in telegram 187, August 13. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/8-1361)↩
- Dated August 3, this telegram transmitted the text of a note from the Western Commandants to the Soviet Commandant protesting the East German violation of the quadripartite status of Berlin. (Ibid., 862.181/8-361) For text of the note, see Documents on Germany, 1944-1985, pp. 765-766.↩
- For text of the press release (Rusk’s statement at 12:30 p.m.), see ibid., p. 776. The telephonic instructions and the press statement have not been identified further, but presumably they are the ones described by Cates, The Ides of August, pp. 320-321.↩
- The text of the Western Commandants’ protest letter was agreed on August 14 and transmitted to Washington for approval. (Telegram 188 from Berlin, August 14, received at 2:17 p.m.; Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/8-1461) The text was discussed by the Four-Power Ambassadorial Steering Group, and at 8:24 p.m. the Department of State approved the text subject to minor changes in the last two paragraphs and approval by the British and French. (Telegram 118 to Berlin, August 14; ibid.) For final text of the letter as delivered on August 15, see Documents on Germany, 1944-1985, pp. 776-777.↩