Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George F. Muller
MULLER: No. The Soviets made no direct attempt to hinder them, but they did have a very involved checking procedure set up at the western end of the Autobahn before the Americans were allowed to enter. Unfortunately, a new precedent was created. The Soviet soldiers counting the American soldiers on their trucks, came up with a different headcount every time. Either they honestly miscounted or they purposely miscounted, I don't know. But the count did not jibe with the documentation that Colonel Glover Johns, I believe was his name, had.
His mission was to get to Berlin, and fast, and he didn't know whether this was a delaying maneuver or a mini-blockade. When the Soviet checkpoint commander requested, or demanded, that the U.S. soldiers dismount for a headcount, he, after some argumentation, gave the orders to do just that. We had never dismounted for a headcount before. After this precedent, when the Soviet count of our soldiers did not agree with a convoy's manifest, they would make the troops fall out, often in inclement weather. We had to protest against their playing games with the headcount procedure.
Other than that, the battle group arrived in good shape. The West Berliners greeted the soldiers with a great deal of joy. Their arrival was generally interpreted as further manifestation of the American will to defend Berlin.
In purely military terms, obviously, one battle group didn't make all that much difference. The total garrison of the Allied soldiers in Berlin was about 10,000, the largest contingent of which was American.
Q: Did the British or French strengthen their forces in any way because of the Wall?
MULLER: Not that I recall. They put them on a higher state of alert but they did not augment them. Even so, being surrounded by, I think, 20 or so Soviet divisions the Berlin garrison would not have had much of a chance in case of armed conflict. But this was a question of perceptions and perception of the power behind the trip-wire; and the trip-wire was the American forces. Some Berliners said American wives and babies were just as important. It was our total presence that counted.
Q: Were there any inter-Allied differences during this period as to how to handle the situation?
MULLER: I guess there were, but I'm not aware of any major or fundamental differences. We always had some difficulty in getting the French to agree to things because they had to check with General De Gaulle, apparently personally. And, of course, it took some time to get to “Le Pr�sident” and for the French to get their instructions.