At a special press conference in East Berlin November 12, East German Prime Minister Otto Grotewohl said the Soviet Union's call for the end of the four-powder status of Berlin was not sensational.
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Background: At a special press conference in East Berlin November 12, East German Prime Minister Otto Grotewohl said the Soviet Union's call for the end of the four-powder status of Berlin was not sensational.
He thought the call was not deserving of the attention it had received in the West. What was more important, he said, was the over-all problem of an East-West peace treaty.
However, he said three existed no longer the need for occupation forces to remain in the capital and he hoped the Soviet Union's call for withdrawal of the occupying powers would be agreed to on all sides.
Observers saw the Soviet Union's move as a new war of nerves. Western Governments reacted strongly. W. Germany was ready to break off diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Six hundred U.S. transport aircraft were ready to operate a new air bridge to West Berlin if necessary. A U.S. White House spokesman said the four powers were in Berlin by right of conquest over the Nazis, reminded the Soviet Union it had tried to force the Western powers out of Berlin the last time - and had failed. Russian troops halted U.S. lorries leaving Berlin, forced them after long delay to turn back. The incidents which captured the front page headlines in Britain looked similar to those that began the 1948-49 blockade of Berlin. Urgent talks began immediately between Britain, France and the U.S. The British Foreign Office said none of the four powers could by itself break the Occupation Agreement - which gave the West right of access laying low, possibly to avoid enlarging the crisis.