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Berlin. It is, however, a prerequisite that the lines of communication and the movement of persons and goods between the United Kingdom, the United States and the French sectors in Berlin and the Western Zones shall have been fully restored.
ALEXANDER S. PANYUSHKIN,
G. C. MARSHALL
Ambassador of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
192. INFORMAL CONVERSATIONS ON BERLIN BLOCKADE Statement by the Department of State, April 26, 19491 Since the imposition by the Soviet Government of the blockade of the city of Berlin the three Western Governments have consistently sought to bring about the lifting of that blockade on terms consistent with their rights, duties, and obligations as occupying powers in Germany. It was in conformity with this policy that the Western Governments initiated conversations in Moscow last summer. Following their breakdown, the matter was referred in September 1948 to the Security Council of the United Nations.
All these efforts ended in failure, and the three Western Governments made it plain that they were not prepared to continue discussions in the light of the Soviet attitude.
Since that time the Western Governments have looked consistently for any indication of a change in the position of the Soviet Government and have been anxious to explore any reasonable possibility in that direction through contacts with Soviet officials.
In this connection the Department of State noted with particular interest that on January 30, 1949, Premier Stalin made no mention of the currency question in Berlin in his reply to questions asked him by an American journalist. Since the currency question had hitherto been the announced reason for the blockade, the omission of any reference to it by Premier Stalin seemed to the Department to indicate a development which should be explored.
With these considerations in mind, Mr. Jessup, then the U. S. Deputy Representative on the Security Council, took occasion, in a conversation on February 15 with Mr. Malik, the Soviet Representative on the Security Council, to comment on the omission by Premier Stalin of any reference to the currency question. Since this question had been the subject of much discussion in the Security Council and in the Experts Committee appointed under the auspices of the Council, Mr. Jessup inquired whether the omission had any particular signifi
One month later, on March 15, Mr. Malik informed Mr. Jessup that Premier Stalin's omission of any reference to the currency problem in regard to Berlin was "not accidental," that the Soviet Government regarded the currency question as important but felt that it could be discussed at a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers if a meeting of that body could be arranged to review the whole German problem.
1 Department of State Bulletin, May 8, 1949, pp. 590–591.
Mr. Jessup inquired whether this meant that the Soviet Government had in mind a Foreign Ministers' meeting while the blockade of Berlin was in progress or whether it indicated that the blockade would be lifted in order to permit the meeting to take place.
The information as to the Soviet Government's attitude revealed in these informal contracts was immediately conveyed to the British and French Governments.
On March 21 Mr. Malik again asked Mr. Jessup to visit him to inform him that if a definite date could be set for the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the restrictions on trade and transportation in Berlin could be lifted reciprocally and that the lifting of the blockade could take place in advance of the meeting.
Taking advantage of the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Great Britain and France in Washington, the recent developments in regard to the Soviet attitude were discussed with them.
An agreed position was reached among the three Western Powers. In order that there should be no misunderstanding in the mind of the Soviet Government in regard to this position, a statement was read to Mr. Malik by Mr. Jessup on April 5. The purpose of this statement, which represented the agreed position of the three Western Powers, was to make clear that the points under discussion were the following:
1. Reciprocal and simultaneous lifting of the restrictions imposed by the Soviet Union since March 1, 1948, on communications, transportation, and trade between Berlin and the Western zones of Germany and the restrictions imposed by the Three Powers on communications, transportation, and trade to and from the Eastern zone of German. 2. The fixing of a date to be determined for a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers.
The Western Powers wished to be sure that these two points were not conditioned in the understanding of the Soviet Government on any of the other points which in the past had prevented agreement upon the lifting of the blockade.
The statement summarized the understanding of the three Governments of the position which the Soviet Government took concerning the proposal of lifting the blockade and the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. Its purpose was to make unmistakably clear that the position of the Soviet Government was as now stated in the release of the Tass Agency.
On April 10 Mr. Malik again asked Mr. Jessup to call upon him at that time and again stated the position of the Soviet Government. From this statement it appeared that there were still certain points requiring clarification.
As a result of this meeting, further discussions took place between the three Governments, which have resulted in a more detailed formulation of their position, which will be conveyed by Mr. Jessup to Mr. Malik.
If the present position of the Soviet Government is as stated in the Tass Agency release as published in the American press, the way appears clear for a lifting of the blockade and a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. No final conclusion upon this can be reached until further exchanges of view with Mr. Malik.
193. LIFTING OF BERLIN BLOCKADE
(a) Letter From French, United Kingdom, and United States Representatives to United Nations Secretary-General, May 4, 19491
We, the Representatives of France, the United Kingdom and the United States on the Security Council, have the honor to request that you bring to the attention of the Members of the Security Council the fact that our Governments have concluded an agreement with the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics providing for the lifting of the restrictions which have been imposed on communications, transportation and trade with Berlin. A copy of the communique indicating the agreement reached between us is enclosed. Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of our highest consideration.
Representative of France
Representative of the United Kingdom
Representative of the United States
(b) Communiqué, May 5, 1949 2
The Governments of France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom, and the United States have reached the following agreement:
1. All the restrictions imposed since March 1, 1948, by the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on communications, transportation, and trade between Berlin and the Western zones of Germany and between the Eastern zone and the Western zones will be removed on May 12, 1949.
2. All the restrictions imposed since March 1, 1948, by the Governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, or any one of them, on communications, transportation, and trade between Berlin and the Eastern zone and between the Western and Eastern zones of Germany will also be removed on May 12, 1949.
3. Eleven days subsequent to the removal of the restrictions referred to in paragraphs one and two, namely, on May 23, 1949, a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers will be convened in Paris to consider questions relating to Germany and problems arising out of the situation in Berlin, including also the question of currency in Berlin.
1 Department of State Bulletin of May 15, 1949, p. 631. UN Doc. S/1316. Known as the New York agreement.
194. SOVIET TREATMENT OF AMERICANS
Note From the United States to the U. S. S. R., October 6, 19491
The United States Government has been informed by the Office of the United States High Commissioner in Germany that on September 28, the Soviet authorities in Germany handed over to the American authorities the two youthful American students, Warren J. Oelsner and Peter H. Sellers, who had been under arrest in the Soviet zone since July 31.
In announcing his intention to release these boys, General Ivanov, Chief of Staff of the Soviet occupation forces in Germany, referred to the "character of the actions" of Oelsner and Sellers in the Soviet zone and asked that measures be taken to avoid a repetition of such incidents.
The United States Government wishes to observe that such admonitions are misdirected in this case. What is the "character of the actions" of the two young American citizens involved? To be sure they inadvertently and innocently entered the Soviet zone of occupation. But this technical offense is not a serious one. It certainly cannot justify detention for over 8 weeks, including 2 weeks in solitary confinement. The two students were not considered even by the Soviet authorities in Germany to be criminals or spies. Reports indicate that no formal charges were ever preferred against them. In short, two American students, in Europe as tourists, whose identity and harmless purposes could never have been long in doubt, have been treated as criminals, subject to long incarceration, and not allowed to communicate with their families or their government. This treatment the United States Government finds to be in shocking contravention to the most elementary standards of international decency. The reaction of the Soviet authorities to the incursion of a pair of youthful bicyclists is the more astonishing as they can scarcely have been considered to be a serious threat to the security of the ample Soviet occupation army in Germany.
The case of Oelsner and Sellers is only the latest of many which have occurred in Germany. Circumstances vary but the basic pattern is the same. United States citizens, whether civilian or military, are arrested, held for long periods, sometimes miserably mistreated, and eventually released, without charges, explanations or apologies. The recent case of Pvt. John J. Sienkiewicz, a United States soldier who escaped on September 16, 1949, from a prison in the Soviet sector of Berlin after 10 months of imprisonment under brutal and uncivilized conditions, is another illustration in point. There can be no justification for this kind of treatment of citizens of a friendly nation, persons whose only violation of law is purely technical at most and whose innocence of criminal charges can easily be established.
The Government of the United States raises the most energetic protest against such actions by the Soviet authorities in Germany, and expects that those Soviet officials who are responsible for these acts will be punished. The Government of the United States further insists that the elementary rights of its citizens be observed in the future in accordance with the international comity which governs the conduct of all civilized states.
1 Department of State Bulletin of October 17, 1949, p. 592.