Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Exchange of Letters Between the President and Mayor Ernst Reuter Concerning Conditions in Berlin.

September 18, 1953

[Released September 18, 1953. Dated August 22, 1953]

- My dear Mayor Reuter:

Thank you very much for your kind letter of August 10. I also am most gratified by the success which the cooperation of the Berlin authorities, the Federal Republic and the United States Government has achieved in bringing urgently needed food as tangible evidence of our friendship to the unfortunate people of Soviet occupied Germany. I am impressed with the overwhelming response and with the courage displayed in the face of the many obstacles which the communist authorities have put in the way of these people. It is clear to me that the people of Soviet occupied Germany understand that their welfare deeply concerns the free world which, as you point out, is determined to help them in every way possible.

The American people have not lost sight of the serious difficulties with which the people of West Berlin must cope so long as they are separated from their fellow Germans in the East and West, and cannot enjoy free communication and unimpeded access to supplies of raw materials and markets for their production. While great progress has been made in raising the level of economic activity and employment in West Berlin we all realize that much remains to be done. The present investment and work relief programs in Berlin were, I am informed, carefully developed in the light of the needs of Berlin and the ability of the Berlin authorities, business and labor, to assist in the creation of additional jobs in existing or new enterprises.

I have no doubt that the Berlin authorities can improve present programs in consultation with the Bonn authorities and the Office of the United States High Commissioner. If proposals can be devised which would give promise of a further substantial increase in employment in Berlin, the United States Government would be prepared to explore with the Federal Republic what further steps the two governments might find it possible to take to achieve this objective.



Note: Mayor Reuter's letter of August 10 follows:

- Mr. President:

Mr. Leo Cherne forwarded to me the picture taken in Washington in March 1953 when you were kind enough to receive me. It was very kind of you to write on this photograph a personal dedication in remembrance of my visit to you. Thanking you for your kindness I should like to avail myself of the opportunity to express my warmest thanks for the food gift which we are at present distributing to the people of the Soviet Zone and East Berlin.

As a matter of fact, this gift is the most effective way of assisting these really destitute people. Everybody attending the distribution of the food is deeply touched by the patience, with which these people wait for hours, by their poor clothing and also by their joy upon receiving their share. We shall do all we can in order to organize the distribution of the gift so that as many of these distressed people as possible are given an opportunity to participate in this relief program. There is no doubt that the distribution of food contributes much to demonstrate to these people that they have not been forgotten by the free world and that the free world backs them and is determined to help them wherever possible. Every food parcel so distributed strengthens the natural and unalterable ties between these people living under unbelievably difficult economic and political conditions and the free world.

In order to cope with the unexpectedly great rush numerous West Berliners have volunteered their help for the distribution. This attitude of the people of West Berlin is all the more remarkable as a considerable part of the people of West Berlin are also living in needy circumstances. In spite of every effort made by us, there are still 225,000 unemployed who have to live on unemployment insurance and unemployment benefit. You know that in spite of all difficulties, the people of Berlin have never been diverted from their determination to maintain and defend the freedom and independence of Berlin. Without the unparalleled attitude of the Berliners during the last years, the revolts of June 16 and 17 which attracted the attention of the whole world would have never happened. Therefore, I should like to express my conviction and hope that, the stronger and healthier Berlin is as a whole, the greater will also be the power radiating from the city into the surrounding Soviet Zone. Therefore, the reduction of the number of unemployed in Berlin is an urgent political and moral concern of the entire free world. If we succeed in creating before long another 50 to 100 thousand places of work, we shall be in a position to add another decisive victory to the moral and political success achieved by the events of June 16 and 17 and the distribution of food which is still being carried through.

If, besides expressing my thanks for the kind dedication you wrote on the photograph, I spoke of the sorrows and needs of Berlin, I have done so, Mr. President, because I am well aware of the understanding and sympathy you have always shown for the needs of this city and its people.

With the renewed assurance of my highest esteem, I remain, Mr. President,

Yours sincerely,


The letters were released at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colo.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Exchange of Letters Between the President and Mayor Ernst Reuter Concerning Conditions in Berlin. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231997

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