286 Beasley to Chifley and Evatt

Cablegram 115, LONDON, 28 June 1948

TOP SECRET

1. Bevin saw High Commissioners this afternoon and went over the situation in Germany leading up to the present impasse in Berlin. The following are the main points he made emphasising the secrecy of the first [and fourth]:[1]

(i) For some time the Western Powers have had secret information that the Russians intended to put this type of pressure on them in the hope of forcing them to evacuate their three sectors of Berlin by August of this year. Accordingly they speeded up supplies of food going in and at present there is a stock of food sufficient to last four weeks from today.

(ii) The United States, United Kingdom and French are co-operating closely through informal committees in London and Washington consisting of Ambassadors and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in each case.

(iii) The three powers have not decided yet in what form the next communication will be made to the Russians. It is strongly hinted here that they may attempt to make an approach to the Soviet Government in Moscow.

(iv) Transport aircraft (principally United States) are being collected to start sending 2,000 tons of essential supplies to Berlin, rising to 3,000 or 4,000 tons. This will largely consist of concentrated foods. Incidentally Bevin said that if any Commonwealth country had suitable aircraft and crews to assist in this movement [they] would be welcome.

(v) All three governments are determined that the Russians will not force them out of Berlin by starving the German people.

2. Bevin said that he did not think it would mean war and that once the Russians saw that their attempt to starve the Western Powers out of Berlin was bound to fail there would be a new situation.

[1] Words in square brackets added by hand.

[AA : A3318, L48/3/1/4, III]