125. Memorandum by the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)1


It appears to me that the new measures of restraint imposed by the GDR on Allied circulation between the sectors in Berlin are more [Page 365] serious than seem to be generally regarded. For the first time the East Germans have aimed restrictions specifically and publicly at the occupying powers. This new measure has nothing to do with the restraint of refugees, the primary excuse for the sealing off of the East Sector. Its target is the Western Allies who are to be humiliated publicly before all of Germany. It is a measure aimed at further depressing the morale of West Berlin, at destroying the confidence of West Berlin in the Western Powers, and at offsetting the effects of the Johnson-Clay visit.
If we allow this provocation to pass unchallenged, it is difficult to see how we can resist restrictions by the GDR on Allied movements on the autobahn, the railway and perhaps in the air.
A minimum action to take is for the Western Powers to announce that they will disregard these restrictions and cross into the East Sector wherever and whenever they see fit. What they would do subsequently in living up to this bold language would depend upon circumstances.
A second course which recommends itself to me (if supported by our representatives in Berlin) would be for the Western Commandants (or at least the U.S. Commandant) to call up the Soviet Commandant, in Karlshorst, informing him that they are calling on him in a body, crossing at X (a place other than Friedrichstrasse). They would further inform him that they will hold the USSR responsible for any incidents in transiting this Sector border. After waiting a reasonable time to permit the word to get about, they would then proceed to X prepared to cross by force if resisted.
While such a course of action is fraught with some hazard and the outcome cannot be clearly predicted, I have the feeling that it would break the rhythm of mounting Communist provocation and prevent later and more hazardous incidents.
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Box 35, Berlin-NATO-Military Buildup. Secret. Attached to Document 253. According to a handwritten notation, copies of the memorandum were taken to a 9:45 a.m. meeting with Bundy and the President on August 24. Taylor’s recommendations were subsequently transmitted to Bonn and Berlin for comment. (Telegram 415 to Bonn, August 24; Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/8-2461)
  2. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.