36. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State 1

2054. Embtel 1989.2 With growing possibility that 1961 may bring Soviet decision to sign separate peace treaty and turn over control of Allied access to so-called GDR, need for urgent review and consolidation of Berlin contingency planning, already begun at the President’s direction, is now clearly evident.

Following suggestions, growing out of our local review, are therefore submitted for consideration in overall planning:


In my view, work on political moves and economic countermeasures should be pressed forward urgently, so that NATO Alliance will be in position take concerted measures demonstrating to Soviet Union our combined resolve not to accept Soviet action aimed at unilateral termination of our rights in Berlin. There is still a long way to go before Alliance could carry out economic countermeasures currently under study, for example, and while series of diplomatic moves obviously will be necessary and undoubtedly are contemplated at time crisis arises, present plan refers only to public announcement and notes to Soviet Union. I would suggest that agreement be sought on wide range of measures which might be put into effect as and if issue comes up, including economic embargo against entire Soviet bloc. At same time, I would question whether we should attempt to adopt now a rigid, ascending order of measures of mounting pressures, since we might well find it expedient to make a move of some severity, such as military alerts, evacuation of dependents, embargo, closing ports to Soviet shipping, etc., in first stages to create needed impact early in developing situation. Effectiveness of countermeasures taken last autumn was undoubtedly due largely to fact they were prompt response to East Zone restrictions, but experience in Bonn has demonstrated that tripartite agreement is normally long-drawn-out, difficult achievement.

In other words, our present goal should be to obtain governmental agreement now that certain measures, including those global in nature, will be used, and preparations therefore begun at once.

Psychological actions, for use prior to and during crisis, must also be designated to impress world opinion with rightness of our position. Only specific action which I can suggest now is use of Soviet tactic of “[Page 105]confidential” talks with neutrals in which we might stress fact that basis for international relations would be utterly destroyed if rights under agreements are to be invalidated unilaterally.

As for military probe in case of interference with Autobahn access, let me say at once that I regard it as an essential element of any contingency planning. But I wonder if it would not be difficult to obtain support of world opinion where it used solely for support of our own access to Berlin. On other hand, use of military means to support survival in freedom of two and one-quarter million Berliners would surely gain wide measures of support. For this reason, among others, including the problem of full Allied agreement, I suggest that further consideration might be given to circumstances under which our contemplated military probe would be maintained. Furthermore, I have grave doubts re wisdom of ourselves instituting new procedures in connection with surface access (i.e., so-called “peel-off” procedure, should Vopos replace Soviet guards at checkpoints) at a time when we would in essence be insisting on maintenance of status quo. Yet present plan seems to contemplate only two basic alternatives: either institution of new procedures, with some degree, at least implied, of East German control of access, or use of military probe. Question in my mind, therefore, is whether it would not be preferable to reject at outset any East German control of our surface movements, and to move at once to garrison airlift for Allied movements when Vopos first appear at checkpoints. This would at least have advantage of preserving freedom of action in further stages of crisis, aside from perhaps arousing sympathetic echoes in world opinion of first Berlin airlift. Moreover, I would surmise that if East German regime were thus frustrated in its desire to assert control over Allied access, it would move fairly rapidly to interference with civil traffic, whereupon we could then (after placing Berlin on ration basis, etc.) move to carry out military probe.

Finally, I feel strongly that contingency planning should include agreed guidance fromFedRepto populace of Soviet Zone. It must be expected that they will become increasingly restive as crisis approaches, and we should have decided well in advance what attitude we would want them to take up.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.62B/6-861. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 28.