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White House Statement Warning the Soviet Union Against Interference With Free Access to Berlin.

August 24, 1961

THE SOVIET NOTE of August 23, 1961, is dearly but one more step in a deliberate campaign of deception and attempted intimidation designed to distract attention from failures of the Soviet Government and to heighten world tensions.

The charges and allegations contained in this note with respect to the United States and its allies are false, as the Soviet Government well knows. That such statements should be made with respect to activities in the free Western sectors of Berlin at the very moment when the Soviet Government is sealing off the Eastern sector of the city is an act of cynicism and irresponsibility. This act is also a direct violation of the Soviet Government's commitment to "the economic and political unity of Germany" and the pledged word of the Soviet Government to cooperate with the Allied Governments "to mitigate the effects of the administrative division of Germany and Berlin" by "facilitation of the movement of persons and goods and the exchange of information" throughout Germany, including Berlin.

The slanderous remarks of the Soviet Government about the legitimate activities of free men in West Berlin suggest that somehow the Soviet Government supposes the United States to share the Soviet view that subservience to dictatorship is the proper mode of German life. The peaceful commitment to freedom of the people Of West Berlin and the restraint of their leaders under great provocation have never been demonstrated more plainly than in recent days. Moreover, it is strange that the Soviet Government should protest against relations between West Germany and West Berlin 'at a time when it is insisting upon the identity of East Berlin with East Germany.

These charges and allegations can thus not be taken seriously. What must be taken seriously by the whole world, however, is the scarcely veiled threat of aggression against the Allied air routes to and from West Berlin. The United States must serve a solemn warning to the Soviet Union that any interference by the Soviet Government or its East German regime with free access to West Berlin would be an aggressive act for the consequences of which the Soviet Government would bear full responsibility.

Note: A translation of the Soviet note of August 23 is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 45, P. 433).

The commitments of the Soviet Government referred to in the second paragraph of the U.S. statement are contained in a communique released at the close of the sixth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers on June 20, 1949. For text, see Department of State Bulletin of July 4, 1949 (vol. 21, p. 857).

John F. Kennedy, White House Statement Warning the Soviet Union Against Interference With Free Access to Berlin. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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