Publication: The Times

Full Citation

  • Title Berlin Tension Eases As Soviet Tanks Withdraw
  • Author From Our Own Correspondent
  • Publication Title The Times
  • Collection The Times Digital Archive, 1785-2008
  • Date Monday,  Oct. 30, 1961
  • Issue Number 55225
  • Page Number 10
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
BERLIN TENSION EASES AS SOVIET TANKS WITHDRAW AMERICANS END TEST DRIVES INTO EASTERN SECTOR From Our Own Correspondent BERLIN, Ocr. 29 The tension has eased here after the Russian decision yesterday to withdraw the 10 T 54 heavy tanks which they had put into position hard by the Friedrichstrasse intersector checkpoint. The move came just before 11 a.m. and soon afterwards the American Patton tanks, placed only a few hundred yards sway on the other side, also left. Routine visits by allied personnel in Uniform to the eastern sector of the city and by the Russians to the west in service cars are continuing. Two British buses containing servicemen and civilians on a sightseeing tour of both sectors were stopped by people's police on entering east Berlin this afternoon. The east Germans' demand to inspect the passes of the occupants of the 32-seat buses, instead of being content with being shown them, was refused, and the buses returned to the American checkpoint. About a quarter of an hour later the buses went over again and passed through without difficulty. During the incident a Soviet officer drove into the area. A MISUNDERSTANDING? On the British side there is a disposition to regard the whole incident as caused by misunderstanding of the usual procedure by some ill-instructed people's policeman. A British military spokesman explained that the procedure was for. British troops to identify themselves by their uniform and for civilians to identify themselves as being British. Only people's police were on duty at the checkpoint today. The Russian tanks were back in specially prepared base points about the centre of the city, kept hidden as much as possible and guarded at a distance by east German troops who forbade closer inspection. According to reports, some of the tanks are in the large courtyard of a ruined building in Unter den Linden; the lower windows have recently been bricked up to prevent anyone seeing in. There were also signs that Russian infantry units are now billeted in a people's police barracks near the university. The Americans today had only two armoured troop carriers and two tanks on waste ground well down Friedrichstrasse. The British, who are responsible for the Brandenburg Gate, have a company of troops, with armoured scout cars and anti-tank guns under canvas in the Tiergarten. WASHINGTON ORDERS Tension appeared to be rising in Friedrichstrasse yesterday afternoon when another test journey into east Berlin seemed about to begin. Later it was understood that Washington had ordered that there should be no sucb journeys for the moment Two patrols of the American garrison in Berxin have been stopped at the beginning of the Helmstedt by the Russians, the American Mission in Berlin announced this evening. A third patrol was later allowed through. No other hindrance to military or oivilian traffic had occurred on the Autobahn, it was stated. The Russians, who stopped the patrols earlier today soon after they were leaving west Berlin, maintained that the patrols were not necessary since the Autobahn was already patrolled by Soviet forces, the Americans sasd. The two patrols re,turned to west Berlin. The patrols were instituted by General Clay after he returned to Berlin recently as President Kennedy's special representative in the city. NEGOTIATION SOUGHT The withdrawal of Russian tanks came as a surprise after it had become known here yesterday that General Watson, the American commandant in Berlin. had received from Colonel Soloviev two letters. rejecting the Americans' request for a Soviet officer to ensure the uncontrolled passage of civilians of the American military government through the checkpoint and protesting at American helicopter inspection flights over the eastern sector. The Russian attitude seems to be to emphasize the desire to resolve the checkpoint dispute by negotiation, without however giving any detailed indication of how this could be achieved. Soviet officials in east Berlin told your Correspondent that the procedure required at the Friedrichstrasse checkpoint was a matter for the east German authorities. The instructions given by the east German Ministry of the Interior after the Lightner incident at the checkpoint last week are seen as part and parcel of the regulations introduced after August 13. FIRMNESS PRAISED This sector boundary is now a state frnntier, it is said, and the German Democratic Republic, like every other sovereign state, must have the right to decide who shal be admitted. Though Russian tanks are in the city for the first time since the 1953 uprising, the atmosphere in east Berlin is paradoxically more relaxed now than immediately after August 13. Throughout the weekend west Berliners have watched behind the rope barriers erected by the Berlin police the activity at the Friedrichstrasse checkpoint. Often arguments arise and while the Americans' firmness is often praised, there is undoubtedly a feeling. shared by many in this city just now, that a better occasion would have been immediately after August 13. Herr Brandt, the chief burgomaster of west Berlin, in a broadcast this evening, praised American firmness at the Friedrichstrasse checkpoint. "The allies by their military action are intending to prevent any step beyond the communist measures of August 13 and we welcome this ", he said. Bonn to call up reservists. pare 8.