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iiiSiii ; the (^tie^tion Still Nags If Hove Prevented Berlin Tension? Editor's Note: TWenty years after the War, a divided Berlin is still a threat to world peace. Coiild it have been avoided? Every day the picture becomes clearer, but still it is a fascinating tangle of men and motives. And still the question remains—what to do with Berlin? -have recalled their roles, and their thoughts at the time. Their versions, like pieces of tile form a mosaic. 1 - THE ROAD TO BERLIN By March, 1945, Eisenhower had concluded that an all- out drive for Berlin was not the quickest way to end the war in Europe. Instead, Eisenhower proposed to destroy the German forces holding the Ruhr and to seize that great industrial complex. The analogy was that "if the industrial heart stopped, the political heart (Berlin) would die." Prime Minister Winston Churchhill was grievously disappointed. Since 1943, he had been acutely sensitive to the political patterns in post-war Europe. Hence, he considered Berlin a key piece on the chessboard. On April on having heard Eisenhower's decision, Churchill messaged Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt: "I therefore consider that from a political standpoint we should march as far east into Germany as possible, and that should Berlin be in our grasp, we should certainly take it. This also seems sound on military grounds." But there was no agreement among the combined chiefs of staff. The British historian, Arthur Bryant, basing his views on the war time dairies of field marshal Sir Alan Brook, wrote ("Triumph in the West") that "while strong German forces still barred the Russian road to Berlin, the Western Allies were confronted only by spasmodic resistance from the disintegrating, defeated army." 100,000 Casualties? But Gen. Omar Bradley wrote ("A Soldier's Story") that he estimated it would cost 100,000 American casualties to drive from the Elbe River to Berlin. He says he commented at the time, "A pretty stiff price to pay for a prestige objective, especially since we've got to fall back and let the other fellow take over." (The American zone, fixed in 1944, lay 125 miles west of Berlin.) Gen. George C. Marshall, U.S. chief of staff, said, in the exchange of messages on Beriin, "... 1 would be loath to hazard American lives for merely political purposes." So the question became: If Berlin was "worthless" militarily, was it immensely valuable politically? Churchill returned to the attack. He asked Roosevelt in a message: "If they (the Russians) take Berlin will not their impression that they have been the overwhelming contributors to our common victory , ... lead them into a mood which will raise grave aijfd forriiidable difficulties in the futur^" "Complicating" wfr Roosevelt, however, jseems to have expected the Russians to take Berlin and felt no concern. Of this question, Bradley wrote, "As soldiers, we looked naively on tliis British inclination to complicate the war with political foresight and non-militarj^ objectives." So it was the Russians who took Berlin. What is the summation? Arthur Bryant wrote, "They (the British) were forced to witness at the dictate of one of their principal allies the needless subjection of the whole of Eastern Europe to the totalitarian tyranny of the other." The American historian, Forrest C. Pogue, wrote (in "Command Decisions"), "It is evident that the political leaders in the United States had framed no policy for dealing with an aggressive Soviet Union in central Europe. It is equally clear that no political directive was ever issued to General Eisenhower by his American superior or by the combined chiefs of staff . . . When considered from the purely military viewpoint of the quickest way to end the war in Germany with the fewest number of casualties to our troops, leaving the maximum number available for rapid deployment to the Pacific his decision was certainly the proper one." Quote Ike Gen. Lucius D. Clay, military governor of the U.S. zone in Germany wrote (in "Foreign Affairs"), "S'-^ce the zonal boundaries had been laid down months in advance, it did not appear to matter which armies were the first to enter Beriin." Noting this point, Eisenhower told a news conference Gettysburg, Pa., in 1961: So to say that any military decision, no matter what it was then, would have saved the present difficulty in Berlin, is just—well, history is being written by someone who just doesn't know what took place. That's all there is to it." II—PLANNING FOR CHAOS "The fateful decision about Berlin, made in London in September, 1944, was a per- By Relman Morin (AP SpeoUl Correapondont) If anything symbolizes the wartime triumphs and postwar failures of the grand alliance that was assembled to beat back Nazi Germany it is tlie divided city of Berlin, once the capital of Hitler's Reich and now the place where East most closely meets West in a spirit of mutual distrust. Even when men shoot at other men in places like Viet Nam and Korea, it is Berlin that remains potentially the most dangerous threat to world peace. It is diere that die world's two great nuclear powers—the United States and die Soviet Union — meet like flint and steel in a tinder box. It was 20 years ago that the victors in World War II divided up Berlin and a whole generation of Americans has grown up listening to its elders debate a resolution that has grown more clouded with passing time: Berlin need never have been an East-West problem at all. The controversy pivots on these key questions: Should Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied supreme commander, have tried to capture Berlin before the Russians took the city? Was Eisenhower right in subordinating the political importance of Berlin to the military conditions in Geiisiany in 1945? Should not the Western Allies have obtained written guarantees of their right of access to Berlin, as part of the documents in the 1944 agreements with Russia on the occupation of Germany? Since those end of the war days, many of the principal actors in this drama—statesmen, soldiers, planners, ""official sonal decision based upon the all - loo - prevalent American theory that individual friendship can determine national policy. Soviet policy makers and diplomats never operate on that theory." This is the appraisal by the American career diplomat, Robert Murphy (in "Diplomat Among Warriors") of the American - British - Riissian agreement which left Berlin an "island" in the Soviet zone and did not include guaranteed rights of access. The agreement was forged after nearly two years of planning, squabbling, frustration, Russian suspicions and general confusion. Several times, the negotiations lead ing up to it ground to a complete halt. As for the agreement when it finally was concluded. Murphy wrote, "I believe the Russians thought it would be just a matter of time before the Western nations would lose interest and pull out of the Berlin area. It seemed such an artificial position." Early British Study Views such as these affected negotiations that led up to the three power agreement of 1944. The British began studying the question in the summer of 1943. A committee headed by Clemght Attlee, later prime minister, eventually framed a plan. It was very much like the pattern that actually went into operation when the war ended—British, American and Russian zones of occupation with Beriin in the Soviet zone under the joint administration of the three powers. (France later was included.) Nothing was said about ac- ces rights. Commission Formed In December, 1943, the first steps were taken in the United States. A working security committee, composed of representatives of the Army, Navy and State Department, was set up. It was designed to co-ordinate problems in which political and military considerations were mixed. In 1944, the European Ad- V 1 s 0 r y Commission was formed in London. The representatives were Ambassador John G. Winant of the United States, Lord Strang of Britain and F. T. Gusev of the Soviet Union. Along with these two groups, of course, the chiefs of staff, the combined chiefs of staff, the White House and the State Department. All were concerned with post-war arrangements in Europe. Now began one of the most colossal tangles in bureaucracy in the history of Washington. There were instances when the State'Dejjartment did not know what Roosevelt had done with respect to post-war agreements. The working security committee members feuded among themselves, and feuded with the American delegation to the E.A.C. in London. Prof. Philip Mosely, a member of the delegation, wrote that Winant sometimes went for weeks without instructions, and cabled frantically to obtain them. Views Not Given The president himself, according to Murphy, further complicated matters. Murphy wrote that he went to Washington in September, 1944 and— "To my astonishment, I learned in Washington that no American plan was ready yet because President Roosevelt had not made known his own views . . ." Meanwhile, other designs for post-war Germany were circulating. One was to completely dis member Oermliny; splitting It Into small states, like' the pattern before it had been unified. Another was to "pastoral Ize" Germany—remove all in dustrial equipment and leave it a wholly agricultural nation Elsenhower had still anoth er Idea. In an Interview after the war, he said he flew to Washington to consult Roosevelt and said: "This is my pet. Let's not have separate occupation zones in Germany. Instead let's have joint- Allied administration of the whole country." "I'm Already Committed Had Elsenhower's plan been adopted Berlin would not have been isolated. There would have been no zones. The interview said Roosevelt replied, "Impossible, I'm already committed." Then came the Yalta conference. Churchill and others have written about Roosevelt's physical appearance at the time. He looked mortally ill. Churchill wrote, regarding the disagreement over a quick drive on .Berlin: "Actually, though I did not realize it, the president's health was now so feeble that it was General Marshall who had to deal with these grave questions." The Russians here succeeded in convincing the Americans and British of their good intentions—although they already were behaving to the contrary in Poland. Mutual Administration The conference ended in a frenzied ardor of mutual admiration—apparently. Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin toasted each other as great men who had made magnificent contributions to the now-imminent defeat of Hitler. Harry Hopkins told Robert Sherwood (in "Roosevelt and Hopkins"): "The Russians had proved that they could be reasonable and far - seeing and there wasn't any doubt in ttie minds of the president or any o us that we could live with them and get along with them peacefully, as ' far into the future as any one of us could foresee." So the honeymoon began. But nothing had been said about the right of access to Beriin. Ill—THE UNCERTAIN DOOR In the three power agreement of 1944 on the occupation pattern for Germany, this is the key passage on Beriin: "The Berlin area . . . will be jointly occupied by armed forces of . the U.S.A., U.K., and U. S. S. R., assigned by the respective commanders- in-chief." A supplementary clause implies equal rights of movement by the powers. It says, "Each of the three powers may, at its discretion, include among the forces assigned to occupation duties under the command of its commander- in-chief, auxiliary contingents from the forces of any other Allied power which has participated in- military operations against Germany." This language, and some other statements, thus led American and British officials to the conclusion that the right of access to Berlin was 'implicit" in the agreement with Stalin. "No Less Beguiled" The record indicates that it was not long before some Americans began to feel uneasy. Bradley wrote, "Although I did not dispute the great illusion—for I was not less beguiled than the others on the Soviets' friendly postwar intentions — this isolation of Beriin offended me . . . In the supply of Berlin, we were to be totally dependent upon the goodwill of the Soviets. And dependence, I learned as a boy in Missouri, does not iCake for tha vet -y best neighbors." Very soon, Harry S. Trq man, noWlh the White House, began pulling American forces out of Europe. So the Americans and Brit Ish passed through the.dbo^; to Berlin with no hard-and- fast commitments from the Soviets that It would remain open to them. Seemed Still Blooming The honeymoon, of course, appeared to be still blooming. Clay has described his first meeting with Marshal Zhukov: "(He) requested that our Initial access to Berlin be effected over a specific routf and a specified railway router, as all others were needed for the demobilization of the Russian armies. "While this arrangement could have been obtained in writing, I refused to regard it as other than a temporary measure since it seemed obvious to me that the joint occupation of Berlin cleariy conveyed with it the, right of access by any and all routes." The honeymoon was of short duration. Clay says today he felt it was over when, instead of negotiating on reparations from the Germans, "the Russians immediately began tak- ng out everything they could." Harriman's Prediction Clay says that Averell Harriman, who had fought furl- I 4 A KACINE SUNOAVlUi:uriN Sunday, Jun* 27, I96S oiiiiily with Stalin in Moscow during the war over many Isijfues; "predicted by August, ],945,;fhat the agreement was Spiti^ to fail. I felt our problem was to try to make it work." The Ru.9sians eventually walked out of the Allied Control Council—and the Control Council — and then slammed the door to Berlin with their blockade of 194748. It was defeated by the spectacular Berlin alHift. 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