Berlin Question

May 4, 1960

Report Outline
Pressure to Change Status of Berlin
Occupation and Blockade of Berlin
Proposals for a Berlin Settlement

Pressure to Change Status of Berlin

Berlin Question at the Summit Conference

Progress toward settlement of the Berlin question will be one of the primary objectives of the Big Four heads of government when they assemble at Paris on May 16. The coming summit conference, in fact, had its origin in Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev's demand, 18 months ago, that the occupation of Germany's former capital be terminated and that West Berlin be converted into a “free demilitarized city.” The notes making those demands on Nov. 27, 1958, carried a time limit of six months and thus bore the characteristics of an ultimatum. The United States, Great Britain and France refused to submit to pressure, and Khrushchev backed down to the extent of removing the time limit. The foreign ministers of the three Western powers and the Soviet Union labored over the question at Geneva from mid-May to early August last year without coming to agreement. Now the heads of government themselves will take their turn at trying to solve the problem.

Although the Soviet premier withdrew his ultimatum on Berlin, he has not changed his position on the Berlin question, nor have the Western Allies. In a hard-hitting speech at a dinner in New York, April 20, Under Secretary of State Douglas Dillon called the problem of Germany, including Berlin, the central issue confronting the nations of East and West at the summit. The problem in the long run can only be solved, Dillon said, through German reunification—a solution that the Soviets so far have rejected.

Meanwhile, we are willing to consider interim arrangements to reduce tensions in Berlin and lessen present dangers. But we are determined to maintain our presence in Berlin and to preserve its ties with the Federal Republic [of Germany]. We will not accept any arrangement which might become a first step toward the abandonment of West Berlin or the extinguishing of freedom in that part of Germany which is a free, peaceful and democratic member of the world community.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 22, 1989  A Primer on German Reunification
Apr. 19, 1985  German Reconciliation
Feb. 25, 1983  West Germany's ‘Missile’ Election
Jan. 14, 1970  German Reconciliation
Jan. 29, 1969  West German Prosperity
Mar. 30, 1966  German Border Question and Reunification
Aug. 18, 1965  West German Election, 1965
Feb. 24, 1965  War Guilt Expiation
Jul. 01, 1964  German Question
Sep. 01, 1961  Captive East Germany
Aug. 23, 1961  West German Election, 1961
May 04, 1960  Berlin Question
Dec. 24, 1958  Berlin Crisis and German Reunification
Aug. 21, 1957  German Election, 1957
Oct. 19, 1955  European Security
Jun. 15, 1955  Germany and the Balance of Power
Oct. 19, 1954  German Rearmament
Jan. 19, 1954  West German Recovery
Mar. 12, 1953  Harassed Berlin
Apr. 26, 1950  German Problem
Feb. 18, 1948  Rehabilitation of the Ruhr
Oct. 23, 1946  Future of Germany
Nov. 25, 1944  Transfers of Populations
Nov. 01, 1940  Economic Controls in Nazi Germany
Mar. 09, 1939  Foreign Trade in German Economy
Apr. 02, 1936  Germany's Post-War European Relations
Nov. 02, 1934  The Coming Saab Plebiscite
Apr. 23, 1931  The Austro-German Customs Union Project
Feb. 05, 1929  The Rhineland Problem
Nov. 07, 1924  German National Elections December, 1924
Apr. 30, 1924  The German National Elections
Regional Political Affairs: Europe