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Documents on Germany, 1944-1959 : background documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a chronology of political developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956

Statement by the Department of State, on legal aspects of the Berlin situation, December 20, 1958,   pp. 336-347 PDF (5.4 MB)

Page 343

the USA, Great Britain, and France on May 1, 1945, i. e., the
agreements that were intended to be in effect during the first years
after the capitulation of Germany.
In an attempt to justify this action, the Soviet Government alleges:
(1) that such action is legal because of alleged violations by
the Western powers of the Potsdam Agreement;
(2) that the agreements were intnded to be in effect only dur--
ing' the first years after -the cp-ulh;tion of Germaany;
(3) that alleged activities of the Western -Powers in t-eir sec-
tor of Berlin have resulted in a forfeiture of their rights to occupy
those sectors and to have free access thereto.
Relationship of the Potsdam Agreement to U.S. Occupation Rights
With Respect to Berlin
The so-called Potsdam Agreement was issued at the conclusion of
the Berlin Conference of July 17 to August 2, 1945. The Protocol of
the Proceedings which embodied the points of agreement reached by
the Heads of Government of the United States of America, United
Kingdom, and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is dated August 1,
1945. From this mere statement of the time factor it is apparent that
the Agreement on Zones of Occupation and the Status of Berlin which
had entered into force on February 6, 1945, approximately 6 months(
earlier, does not depend for its validity upon the Postdam Protocol
of Proceedings. Moreover, there is nothing in the Potsdam Protocol
which specifically subjects the prior agreement to any of its terms
or which can be interpreted as having that effect. Nor is there any
evidence that the subsequent agreements on the exercise of the rights
of access relate to or are connected in any way with the Potsdam
Violations (alleged or real) of the Potsdam Agreement could nOt,
therefore, have any legal effect upon the validity either of the basic
occupation rights of the Western powers or upon the agreements
which define the rights of the Western powers to be in occupation of
their zones and of their sectors of Berlin and to have free access to
Moreover, the Potsdam Agreement, insofar as Germany is concerned,
is related to the common objectives of the occupation authorities in
Germany. The attainment of these objectives was designed to further
the purposes of the occupation of Germany, but there is no indication
anywhere in the Protocol that the right of occupation depended upon
attainment of the objectives. Further, to the extent that these objec-
tives were not realized, the failure resulted from violations by the
Soviet Union of the provisions of the Potsdam Protocol. The major
violations were the refusal of the Soviet Union to treat Germany as an
economic unit and the continuing attempts of the Soviet Union to
obtain reparation payments to which it was not entitled under the
terms of the Protocol. The United States is prepared to document
violations of the Potsdam Agreement by the Soviet Union. It has
never contended, however, that such violations affect the right of the
Soviet Government to occupy its zone of Germany and sector of
The United States denies, and is prepared to document the cor-
rectness of its position, that it has violated the Potsdam Agreement

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