Full Citation

  • Title East Germans Soften Soviet Threat to End 4-Power Rule of Berlin
  • Author Coblentz, Gaston From the Herald Tribune Bureau
  • Publication Title New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Thursday,  Nov. 13, 1958
  • Page Number [1]
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
East Germans Soften Soviet Threat to End 4-Power Rule of Berlin ■ mm Associated Press Wirephoto. East German Premier Otto Grotewohl speaking at his press conference in East Berlin yesterday. Grotewohl Puts Peace Pact First t ¬ e e r y ¬ s n ¬ t c - Discounts Speech By Khrushchev By Gaston Coblentz From the Herald Tribune Bureau BERLIN, Nov. 12.—East Ger¬ many today momentarily soft- pedaled Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev’s newly launched war of nerves against West Berlin. The East Germans took over the stage Irom the Russians and acted as though Mr. Khrushchev’s threat on Monday to dismember the post¬ war four-power status of Berlin was scarcely deserving of the at¬ tention it has received. At i> special news conference in East Berlin, East German Premier Otto Grotewohl said Mr. Khrush¬ chev’s speech was “not sensational.’” He said it was essentially more concerned with the over-all problem of an East-West peace treaty .with Germany than with the Berlin issue. This interpretation of Mr. Khrush¬ chev’s new move to dislodge the' Western Allies from Berlin was at sharp variance with the violent' attacks which Mr. , Grotewohl’s' propaganda machine has been de¬ livering against West Berlin for the last week. Compared With Quemoy Until as little as 12 hours before Mr. Grotewohl’s press conference, high-ranking officials of his gov¬ ernment were demanding the ex¬ pulsion of the Americans, British and French from West Berlin. They likened the difficult geographical position of the Western garrisons in Berlin to that of the Chinese Nationalists on Quemoy. Mr. Grotewohl also revived to¬ day, in a rather nebulous way, earlier Communist talk about a negotiated evacuation of German territory by both Soviet and West¬ ern military forces. This idea has been presented in various guises since Hie early 1950’s. While Mr. Khrushchev spoke Monday of withdrawing Soviet forces specifically from Berlin, Mr. Grotewohl referred today to possible Soviet>East German talks on the departure of all Soviet armed forces from German soil. He said he hoped such a move by the Rus¬ sians would “encourage” the West¬ ern powers to leave Germany, too. Grotewohl Modifies Statement BERLIN, Nov. 12 (A.P.). — Pre¬ mier Grotewohl tonight suddenly backed away from his announce¬ ment that Russia might be ready tor a one-sided withdrawal of its troops from Germany. Eariier, he told his East Berlin news conference that his govern¬ ment expected to open talks soon with Mr. Khrushchev toward with¬ drawal of Russian troops from East Germany. But, under prodding from West¬ ern reporters, Mr. Grotewohl added that Russia “perhaps” would also stick to its old proviso which called (Continued on Page 6, Col. 4) E. Germans (Continued (rom Page 1) for simultaneous withdrawal of Russian and Western troops from Germany. Tonight, six hours after Mr. Grotewoïjl’s news conference, the official East German news agency ADN put out a correction to its official transcript. The correction changed the “per¬ haps” to “naturally” in Mr. Grote- wohl’s statement. This meant that the East German Premier was now admitting that any withdrawal of Russian troops from his country was dependent on Western forces leaving West Germany. The West repeatedly has rejected this in the past, insisting that the Soviet Union must first agree to German reunification through free elections. The ADN statement was a hu¬ miliation for Mr. Grotewohl, since more than 200 Western and Com¬ munist reporters had heard his ‘ perhaps” statement. Mr. Grotewohl’s backtracking arose out of these set of circum¬ stances. First, he said that he hoped a new agreement would be reached concerning Soviet troops in negotiations between Russia and his government. He said he hoped this settlement v/ould . encourage the Western powers to follow suit with their own troops. He was asked whether such a settlement would mean Russian withdrawal of their troops and. according to ADN, he replied: “Yes, I interpret the speech of Mr. Khrushchev as an announce¬ ment for a re-examination of this question with the aim to withdraw, perhaps under the proviso that th^ other powers will take the same step. I say—perhaps.” Tonight ADN changed "perhaps" to read “naturally," and deleted I he final quote, “I say—perhaDS.”