Publication: New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
- Title Sokolovsky Says Blockade Is Retaliatory
- Author McDermott, John B.
- Publication Title New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
- Collection New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
- Date Friday, July 23, 1948
- Issue Number 20368
- Page Number 2
- Place of Publication Paris, France
- Language English
- Document Type Article
- Publication Section News
- Source Library The New York Times Company
Sokolovsky Says Blockade Is Retaliatory Asserts It Counters U.S. Zone Restrictions on Visits by the Russians By John B. McDermott United Press Stall Correspondent BERLIN, July 22.—Marshal Vas¬ sily Sokolovsky, Soviet commander in Germany, told the United Press in an exclusive, informal interview tonight that Russia would lift the Berlin blockade to American traffic if the Americans opened their zone of Germany to the Russians. In an unprecedented supper- party conversation with this corres¬ pondent the Soviet marshal said the Berlin blockade was a recipro¬ cal measure countering American regulations requiring special per¬ mits for Russians to visit the United States Occupation Zone. Marshal Sokolovsky made no comment when asked if his offer to lift the blockade in exchange for free Russian at cess to the Ameri¬ can Zone would apply to the Ber- lin-Helmstedt railway, as well as the international highway. Cites Call for Visas “For three years we have per¬ mitted Americans free access (over the international railroad and super¬ highways) through our zone to Ber¬ lin. But in June, the Americans ordered that all Russians going to the American Zone would have to have ‘propusk’ (visas), so we reci¬ procated,” Marshal Sokolovsky said. He explained the Soviet position thus: “When you have a guest at your table for dinner, you do not expect him to walk off with the legs of your dinner table. When I have a guest at my dinner table, I do not expect that of him either.” Attends Supper Party It was the first time the Russian Military Governor ever spoke direct¬ ly concerning Germany’s problems to a Western Allied correspondent. The interview took place during a supper party at the Polish mission headquarters here. Major General J. Prawin, chief of the Polish mission, had invited most of Berlin’s diplomatic corps and military representatives to the party, celebrating Poland’s'national holiday. The conversations were conducted in Polish, Russian and English with a Polish representative serv¬ ing as interpreter. Marshal Soko¬ lovsky’s English-speaking interpreter listened without interrupting. The Russian commander flatly denied that there was any blockade around Berlin. “Would the Soviets lift the block¬ ade to American traffic if the Americans opened their zone to the Russians?” he was asked. “If you did that, we would,” Mar¬ shal Sokolovsky replied. “Would that apply to train traffic as well?” he was asked. The Russian marshal grinned, shrugged his shoulders, but made no answer. ‘Here I Am’ I told him it was a pleasure to see him, for it refuted many reports that he had been recalled to Mos¬ cow and had not returned. “But why are there such reports?” he asked, smiling broadly. “Here I am.” The appearance of the Russian marshal at the party marked the first time in several months he had attended an all-nation gathering or. appeared ih public. “Do you think that because of the Berlin crisis—the blockade— these is danger of war between the Soviet Union and the United States?” I asked as a final ques tion. Before he could answer, iwe were interrupted by Russian officers who had been trying for several min¬ utes to present friends to the marshal.