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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 336

336            DOCUMENTS ON GERMANY, 1944-59
Statement by the Department of State, on Legal Aspects of the
Berlin Situation, December 20, 1958'1
The United States considers that the agreements denounced by the
Soviet Union are in full force and effect, that the Soviet Union re-
mains fully responsible for' discharging the obligations which it as-
sumed under the agreements, and that the attempts by the Soviet
Union to undermine the rights of the United States to be in Berlin
and to have access thereto are in violation of international law.
The legal dispute of the United States Government with the Soviet
Government involves fundamental questions of international law.
Among them are the respective rights acquired by the occupying au-
thorities in Germany at the conclusion of World War II and the status
of those rights pending a final peace settlement with Germany; the
question whether a nation may unilaterally abrogate without cause
international agreements to which it is a party in order to divest
itself of responsibilities which it has voluntarily assumed; and what
is the effect of a unilateral renunciation of jointly shared rights of
military occupation by one of the occupiers.
During World War II the United States, the United Kingdom, and
the Soviet Union, together with the forces of the Free French and of
the other United Nations, formed a coalition of allied forces united
in the common effort of defeating Nazi Germany. Several major in-
ternational meetings were held between the heads of government of
the Allied Powers at which the common objectives were outlined and
plans for the securing of peace were mapped out.
The agreed communique of the Moscow Conference, held from Oc-
tober 19 to October 30, 1943, stated:
The Conference agreed to set up machinery for ensuring the closest coop-
eration between the three Governments in the examination of European
questions arising as the war develops. For this purpose the Conference
decided to establish in London a European Advisory Commission to study
these questions andi to make joint recommendations to the three Govern-
The European Advisory Commission held its first meeting on Janu-
ary 14, 1944. -Thereafter it discussed "European questions" including
the anticipated surrender and occupation of Germany. The nature of
the subsequent occupation of Germany and Greater Berlin is clearly
reflected by the discussions held in the European Advisory Commis-
sion and the agreements concluded as a result of the discussions.
On February 18, 1944, the Soviet representative submitted a docu-
ment entitled "Conditions of Surrender for Germany" for considera-
tion of the Commission, article 15 of which revealed the thinking of
the Soviet Government at that time in regard to the establishment of
zones of occupation in Germany. Paragraph (d) of article 15 of the
document proposed the following with regard to Berlin:
d). There shall be established around Berlin a 10/15 kilometer zone which
shall be occupied jointly by the armed forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
In discussing the Soviet proposal, the British representative at a
meeting on Femruary 18, 1944, doubted the desirability of including
2Ibid., pp. 36-49.

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