163. Editorial Note

On September 30, 1961, Vice President Johnson, who had been in Sweden to attend the funeral of Dag Hammarskjold, discussed the Berlin situation with General Norstad and Ambassadors Gavin and Finletter at Paris. Norstad outlined his authority to take countermeasures including the provision of military crews to pilot civilian aircraft in the event air access to Berlin was denied. Norstad also expressed his great concern over the situation in Steinstuecken and said that the “Communist intentions in regard to the territory presented very high risks of launching a war.” The Vice President then reported that there was widespread feeling in the United States that America’s allies had not fulfilled their defense commitment completely. Finletter agreed with this assessment stating that most of the progress on defense was in commitments rather than performance, but concluded the discussion by saying that “in his judgment the NATO alliance itself is more important than the buildup.”

For a 3-page memorandum of this conversation, see Declassified Documents, 1984, 232; for a draft of the memorandum of conversation and a 2-page memorandum containing recommendations based on the discussion, see ibid., 1978, 144B and C.