With the tentative accord on the status of Berlin achieved by the envoys of the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France in August it appears that this cause of contention may finally be put to rest. Agreement has been a long time in coming.
In 1948, Russian harassments blockading access to the city were submitted to the Security Council of the United Nations by France, Great Britain and the United States as "a threat to the peace within the meaning of Chapter VII of the Charter." In the spring of 1949 negotiations led to the lifting of the blockade but in 1959 the Soviets threatened to make a treaty with East Germany which, they claimed, would void the rights of the Western Allies.
The Berlin crisis of 1961 was, in the view of Richard Stebbins, "perhaps the gravest East-West crisis of the postwar period." On October 18 of that year, Secretary of State Rusk told a news conference that he would not pretend there had been no differences of opinion in the negotiations of the Western Powers on the way to deal with the Berlin crisis, but they were united on the principle of standing firm on their rights in Berlin. This was reminiscent of 1948, but now there were four Western Powers; for the German Federal Republic, whose abortion the Soviets had sought in 1948, participated on full equality with France, Great Britain and the United States. During that summer of 1961, Rusk was repeatedly asked whether the Berlin question would be taken to the United Nations. Rusk asserted that "if this crisis develops into a situation of very high tension, you can be certain it will come before the United Nations in some form."
In 1963 there were further Russian interferences with United States convoys on the autobahn. In March 1970 Four-Power talks on the status of Berlin started again. The patterns of 1948 were still sporadically recalled by hold-ups and blockages disingenuously justified by the repetition of stale excuses.
Drew Middleton quoted a "West European politician" in
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