Publication: The Times

Full Citation

  • Title Further Soviet Complaints In Berlin
  • Author From Our Own Correspondent
  • Publication Title The Times
  • Collection The Times Digital Archive, 1785-2008
  • Date Monday,  July 12, 1948
  • Issue Number 51121
  • Page Number 4
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
FURTHER SOVIET COMPLAINTS IN BERLIN "'IRREGULAR9 FLIGHTS BY WESTERN AIRCRAFT PRESS CRMICISM OF THREE-POWER NOTES The Russian blockade of the western sectors of Berlin continues unabated, and a request has been made for the immediate cessation of " irregular "fights of British and American aircraft over the Soviet zone. General Sir Brian Robertson, the British Military Governor in Germany, has arrived in London, where he is to have consultations with Mr. Bevin, while Mr. Lewis Douglas has been conferring in Berlin with General Clay, the American Military Govemor. PREPARING AN ALIBI GERMAN OFFICIALS DISMISSED From Our Own Correspondent BERLIN, JULY 11 The British, American, and French Notes have produced from the Russianliccnsed Prcss here the expected reactions -that it is the scparatist poiicy of the western allies in western Germany that has forced the Russians to take measures for the protection of the economy of the eastern zone and that if the western allies wa31t a relaxation of these measures as they affect Berlin they must be ready first to discuss the whole German problem. " Berlin," says the National-Zeitung, "is the cnd, not the beginning, of the whole problem now raised. ... The beginning of the problem is the German question, the vital point of which is in turn in Frankfurt. It was there that, through the division of Germany and the introduction of a separate currency, the legal basis of-Athe relations between the occupying Powers was destroyed." The Russian official Tagliche Rundschau con-l tents itself with accusing the westcrn Powers of creating the crisis here because of their alleged wish to use the city for diversion, espionage, and the disorganization of the life of the Soviet zone of Germany and Berlin. The Socialist Unity Party's Neues Deu*schland says: " Berlin is not Shanghai, and autonomous settlements are impossible here." There can therefore bc no talk of Berlin as an "international zone." A TIME-LAG Pending the Russian reply to the three Notes there is no abatement of tension here and no expectation of any rclaxation of the Russian rail, road, and watcr blockade of the city. A few allied cars travelled down the Aurobahn to Helmstedt yesterday and through the Soviet check points at Nowawves, near Berlin, and at Marienborn. on the interzonal frontier. The cars did not have the new Russian permits. Their passengers wcre taking advantage of the time-lag usual between thc announcement of a Soviet order and its notification to the officials concerned. lThev hiad allied travel ordcrs printed in Russian. The new Soviet order is accepted here as designed to make allied travel to the British zone through thc onc permitted exit point at lielmstedt more dtfficult. The * reorganization." as the Russians call it, requiring a Soviet permit and a search at the frontier has not been officially notified by the Rtussians to the western Powers, and General Hays, the American Deputy NMilitary Governor, has said that the Americans will not agree to it. Its purpose is to build up the Russian case that everything is being done either to end the restrictions on traffic to and from Berlin or make them tolerable to the western allies. The same aim is evident in the announcement that two senior German railway officials have been dismissed and another severciy reprimanded for having neglected to keep the Berlin-Helmstedt. line in repair. It is noted here that by blaming the Germans the Russians give thems~lvcs an alibi for use in their answer to the allied Notes. putting themselves in a position in which they can remain or from which they can withdraw as they please. Dr. Besener, chief director of the Reiclsbahlin in the Soviet zone, would not commit himself to-night to a date by which the line might be reopened, merely saying that everything would be done to repair the damage as soon as possible. He did, however, give the first explanation of the nature of the " technical difficulties ' that led the Russians to close the line on June 24. They were caused, he said, by the bad state of most of the sleepers which was a result of constant use of the line, decay, and live coals from locomotives. THE AIR CORRIDOR The Russians also continuc to build up their case againist the use of the air corridor across the Soviet zonc by the westcrn allies to bring in supplies for the wvestern sectors here. To-day they publish the text of letters sent by Licutenant-Gencral Lukyantschenko, chief of staff of the Sovict military administration, to the British and American deputy military governors. General Lukyanchenko gives examples of what are described as further "gro.S breaches " of air s3fety regulations by British and American aircraft, and expresses the hope that the British and American authorities will immediately stop any further irregular flights of their aircraft over the Soviet zone. Ntimerotis such complaints had already been recCived from the Russians, both before and aftcr thc Gatow air disaster on April 5. The answvcr of the western allies is that all necessary precautions are taken ansd that the Berlin air safety centre, where the Russians are still represented, is informed of all flights between Berlin and the British and American zones in both directions. As from next Thursday all leave for British Control Commission and Military Govcrnment officials in Berlin will be suspended. Leave for troops here has already been stopped. There are two reasons for the new order-the increased work caused by the blockade, which has led to some redistribution of staff, and the necessity of lightening the air lift to and fTom the British zone. "IN GOOD HEART" Major-General E. 0. Herbert. -the British commandant of Berlin, has issued a message to nmmbers of the British community here asking them to accept " in good heart " the annoy. ances caused by the various restrictions he announced list Thursday and not to believe the rumours that now circulate among them. ohe rumours chiefly concern reductions in Naafi supplies, and General Herbert emphasizds that it is only in the-case of heavy and Icss important commodities that stocks will not be flown in. To-night a statement issued from General Herbert's headquarters denied as " totally incorrect " a report that British families are to be evacuated from the citv immediately. The rcport, based on a nessate in I: london Sunday newspaper had been broadcast to-day by the Russian-controlled Radio Bcrlin. Families on leave in England are returning normally and sonse British school children have joined or ar. joining their parents for the holidays. The Russian authorities have issued an order forbidding the municipal administration (the M7tistra) from using eastern zone currency for the payment of occupation costs. The order also forbids the use of the Ostmark for the finances of a number of,orpnizations con. trolled by the Magistrat and wnth headquarters in the British, American, and French setors. The westem allies have now issued orders countermanding this unilateral Soviet in. struction. These contradictory orders iHustrate the dilemma of the city administration, a dilemma which is already painful and may grow acute. The Russians have released from the municipal bank in their sector enough funds in eastern marks to pay 75 per cect. of the current month's wages and expenses of the municipality, and the western allies have provided the remainder in western marks. But it is apparent that the Russians do not intend to make the financial transactions of the Magistrat any too easy and they apparently do not intend to make provision for any payment of occupation costs at all. Besides having to cope with the economic conseqqgnces of the warring currencies, the Margistrat and the city council are in a political dilemma. Their sympathies are predominantly with the western Powers, yet they must also accept Russian orders running contraditory to western orders, as in the case of the occupation costs. Since the beginning of the present crisis they have been under constant Soviet pressure and Communist attack. VISITORS TO BERLIN Two visitors from London to Berlin to-day were Mr. Lewis Douglas, the American Ambassador, and Mr. J. B. Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia. During an eight-hour visit Mr. Chifley saw for himself how the western Powers. have organized tbemselves aaainst the Russian blockade of the city, and after talks with various German leaders-including Frau Louisc Schroeder, deputy Mavor of Berlin, who had just returned to the capital after an important conference in western Germany-he rounded off his tour with the comrnent: " Any other stand in Berlin would have been unthinkable." Mr. Douglas, on the other hand, made the flight to Berlin for consultations with General Clay, the American Military Governor; the nature of the consultations was not disclosed. General Sir Brian Robertson, the British Military Governo%, who is to have consultations in London with Mr. Bevin and General Sir Percy Hollis. chief staff officer of the Ministry of Dcfence, left the British zone to-night by air for Enzland. Originally General Robertson's depanure had been arranged for Monday. but the time of departure was advanced. T'he opening of two additional air dispatch centres in the British zone to relieve the pressure at Wunstorf airport-the present dispatch end of the " air bridge " to Berlin-is being considered here. It is likely that the opening of these additional bases will be discussed with Mr. Arthur Henderson, Secretary of State for Air, who arrived this evening from London to visit the scene of the air lift operations to Berlin. The heavy rain of last week has not made ground conditions easy at Wunstorf for the dispatch of freight to Gatow and it is felt that cargoes couJd be handled even more expeditiously if additional bases-one for fuel oil and the other for coal, which the R.A.F. has not yet started to carry-were opened in the British zone. Mr. Henderson will fly from Wunstorf to Gatow to-morrow to inspect air facilities here. Meanwhilh British and American aircraft condnue to " run " the blockade and in spite of exceedingly bad weather over the week-end a large amount of freight was carried into the capital. General Sir Brian Robertson and Mr. Chifley landed at Northolt airport last night. Mr. Chiflcy said: " I feel that the visit enabled me to get a clear picture of the position. Australia. there is no anestion, stands behind the western Allies. It is important that the wvestern Allies should remain in Berlin."