254. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at Berlin1

879. Paris for USRO, Stoessel, McGuire. French Embassy under instructions raised with Department today subject of barring of Soviet Commandant from West Berlin. Stated French understood and shared US concern over insult to US Commandant. They regretted differing situations which had resulted in Western sectors however and attached great importance to reestablishing common procedures. Suggested that Watson reply to Solovyev letter2 be accompanied by oral approach [Page 728] referring to thought in Soviet letter regarding maintaining contacts. We could point out that Watson as US Commandant could not be considered in same category as average boundary crosser. His special character should extend to anyone accompanying him, civilian or military.

Department informed French in reply that letter had already been sent Solovyev (Berlin’s 1284).3 French thought statements in Watson letter regarding value of contacts and return to normal procedures provided peg hang follow-up oral approach. We told French we would consider their proposal. Request comments.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1-462. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Day, cleared by SOV, and approved and initialed by Hillenbrand. Repeated to Bonn, Paris, London, and Moscow.
  2. In Solovyev’s letter of December 30, he stated that he regretted the incident on December 23 (see Document 245), but added that the border police were following customary procedures and that their actions were no reason to forbid his entry into the U.S. sector. (Telegram 1258 from Berlin, December 30; Department of State, Central Files, 862.181/12-3061)
  3. Telegram 1284, January 4, transmitted the text of Watson’s rebuttal of Solovyev’s letter. (Ibid., 762.00/1-462)
  4. On January 7 the Mission at Berlin replied that the Soviets seemed uninterested in maintaining contacts with the Western Commandants and would reestablish contacts if it suited them. (Telegram 1298 from Berlin; ibid., 762.00/1-762)