253. Memorandum From the Assistant to the President’s Military Representative (Legere) to the Military Representative (Taylor)1
Washington, January 4, 1962.
- Did anyone advise knocking down The Wall?
- I understand that Higher Authority has asked once or twice if anyone explicitly advised breaching The Wall back in the early days after its erection. The first point to remember is that The Wall did not go up overnight on August 13. What happened on August 13 was the announcement and promulgation of crossing point restrictions and the stationing of VOPOs to see that they were enforced. The physical construction of The Wall began immediately but of course took more than a little time.
- You will recall that at first everyone thought of the restrictions in terms of shutting off the flow of refugees, and that in some respects this shut-off was not considered to be too bad a development. However, when it became apparent that the restrictions were to be stringently imposed on the Allies, you dictated the comments which are attached at [Page 727] Tab A.2 Note the pencilled cover note from Miss LaFrance to me which refers to your taking several copies to an 0945 meeting next door. Note further that in paragraph 4 of your comments you explicitly recommend the use of force to cross at some place other than Friedrichstrasse (The Wall was obviously not yet completed), and that in paragraph 5 you summarize your reasons for the recommendation.
- It is interesting to note that the date on your comments is 24 August because at Tab B3 is a copy of a JCS message to USCINCEUR dated 25 August. Basically this is the “We will not shoot our way into East Berlin” policy line and of course the JCS was only reflecting in a military channel the political decisions which the State Department had raised.