Cabinet Secretaries' notebooks (CAB 195/20): Berlin
Memo. states latest posn¬.
b) Build-up of mil. strengths. Idea of large-scale probes has bn. given up. U.S. realise any large reinforcement in Berlin wd. be at risk. But they do want to build up NATO strength. Danger in this. But U.K. may be right in thinking tht. w'out this K. might be tempted to nip off Berlin.
We can't do much more w'out conscriptn. or reservists. U.S. don't like this reply, wh. they have had, v. much. We have said we can't do reservists until sitn. more critical.
c) Economic measures. U.S. want full p'umme - now they have put less reliance on mil. measures. Plan is to begin with air-lift then econ. measures escalating to full blockade. We have said this will hurt West more than Soviet bloc & suggd. they be limited to E. Germany. U.S. reject that. They regard blockade as alternative to war.
a) Neogtiation. We aimed at statement by end/Aug. contemplating mtg. in Oct. U.S. backed off when Fr. were so intransigent - fearing to expose difference betwn W. Powers. Settled for announcement only of mtg. on 14/9. U.S. Amb. will try in while to get K.'s view. Hope mtg of 14/9 will result in announcement. we hope to take to Grom.
Clear we must negotiate. Not clear what our tactics shd. be. Wide front will get us nowhere. May be better to start on access to W. Berlin, poss. thro' Ambassadors.
Trying to play down crisis. All are searching for negotiating posn.
Cdn't call up reservists w'out Parlt. Debate on that (w'out aim of negotn.) wd. weaken Western position.
In transition fr. conscript to regular basis - awkward moment for this crisis. BAOR is 3.000 under peace-strength of 55.000. Norstadt asking for war strength - out of ques w'out conscritn.
Measures we can take won't increase real strength of B.A.O.R. Most I cd. offer is to hold it at present strength over next 6 months.
We cd. say tht., if thing got worse, we cd. unbody TA - ¼m.
U.S. accept tht. reservists wd. be short-term. Their criticism is tht. we can't do other things to strengthen B.A.O.R.
Considering means of w'drawing specialists from other theatres
General approval for this attitude.
Helpful if NATO cd. be brought more into military picture.
Stikker is mtg. Ambassadorial Group.
Wdn't harm Soviet Union. Mght hurt Poles & E. Germans.
Pity U.S. can't be made to realise that.
Agree. We shd. look v. foolish. U.K. more damaged that Allies.
Action v. E. Germany wd. really bite.
To make it bite on shipping, NATO Powers alone wdn't do.
Effect on U.K. v. bad.
But so would war. This isn't contemplated until access to W. Berlin is completely blocked. This wd. be v. brink of war.
If it hurts no more than them, it will involve us in dipl. defeat - for we shd. have to w'draw it.
Do it, if at all, on moral grounds viz., not to trade with an enemy. But don't suppose it will bring any economic pressure on R.
Blockade, in crisis. Most of war, has never bn. successful.
Must handle this tactfully with U.S. Might, it low level, but in some informn. re small economic effect on R.
Only frontier we cd. close is E/W. Germany. That wd. embarrass E. Germany.
Denial of N.A.T.O. airfields to R. aircraft would hurt them.
Wd. U.S. not realise it is nonsense if we demonstrated that.
Stress special advantage of quick action v. E. Germany.
Go slower on general blockade planning.
Cd. work that idea into concept of escalation, which we have
persuaded U.S. to accept.
Action v. E. Germany wd. hurt R. - to extent tht. they wd. have to sustain it, instead of exploiting it.
Agreed: work up advantages of action directed immediately to E.
Stress lack of harm to R., not harm to U.K.
Also have on movement - airports, ports.
Mtg. of 14/9 will follow Thompson's talk with K. Hope to be able to talk to Gromyko.
French position. Negotn. must mean concesion. Transfer to E. Germany need not matter : for E. Germany will be trying to gain respect & won't be likely to take awkward action on access.
Our feeling has bn tht. we wd. do better out of K. before a Treaty than out of Ulbrecht after it.
Gt. risk of outbreak of firing - thro' tension in Berlin.
Fr. posn., tho' logical, is v. dangerous.
Fr. view based, not only in logic, but in pessimism and in cynical attitude tht. W. won't fight over Berlin. Negotn. will lead to bad outcome - diplomatic defeat. Better therefore to wait : outcome may not be so bad.
Don't share that conclusion. Br. opinion wd. not be content w'out negotiation. And build-up is not now so bad - more general negotiation tht. some concessions will have to be made.
Taken from C.C. 49(61) - Meeting held on 5 September 1961