261. Telegram From the Mission at Berlin to the Department of State1

1322. Eyes only from Clay for Rusk only. For very limited distribution. I am distressed at Norstad’s report on Stockwell complaints and even more at Stoessel’s letter to Hillenbrand.2 This is certainly a back door approach which makes me wonder as to how it originated and, made to Watson’s superior, indeed a blow below the belt. More surprising is that the American Commander did not support his subordinate as every action complained about had governmental approval. I am thus surprised to find Stoessel reporting that Norstad believed complaints to have a sound basis. This I reject completely.

Of course, it is obvious that neither British nor French will ever react in Berlin, but fortunately failure on their part to react is taken for granted in West Berlin. Failure on our part could be disastrous. We shall try hard to reconcile actions we believe essential to our position here with extreme British and French resistance to any reaction, but complete success is impossible.

I hope that report receives little attention but I could not let it be in the record as such back door reporting is most unfair to a highly conscientious and competent soldier who deserves full support from his superiors. I recognize it to be aimed at me.

In my opinion, Watson’s actions were taken in his capacity as Assistant Chief of Mission in which his responsibility is direct to State Department. I accept full responsibility for them being within approved policies and within such discretionary authority as we have here, as General Watson properly seeks and acts with my advice. I cannot permit him to be blamed for such actions. As I promised, we will do our utmost to keep things quiet here during probing period, but we may not always be able to operate on the do-nothing-in-Berlin policy of French and British and maintain our prestige.

Have sent no copies elsewhere although have no objection copies being sent Norstad and Stoessel if you desire.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1-1162. Secret; Priority.
  2. On January 5 Stoessel had reported that in a conversation with Norstad, Deputy SACEUR Stockwell had raised British concern about the number of U.S. armed convoys transiting the Autobahn and other U.S. actions in Berlin. In a general comment at the end of the conversation Stockwell said that the British were concerned that a clear break seemed to be developing between the United States and the other two Western powers in the city. (Telegram 3321 from Paris; ibid., 762.00/1-562) In its own cable on the same day the Mission at Berlin stated that the British in the city gave no such picture. (Telegram 1292; ibid.) The letter from Stoessel has not been further identified.