Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George F. Muller
Conversely, State sent instructions to both us and Bonn; when Bonn sent something out to Berlin it also went out to all posts concerned with Berlin matters, i.e. London, Paris and Moscow where Berlin working groups were set up. So it worked pretty well, the Ambassadorial group in Washington, which also had representatives from the Pentagon, the Berlin Working Groups in London, Paris and Bonn, all interacting with us in Berlin. Of course initially it took some trial and error, but after a while it became a well functioning mechanism.
Q: Now, one of the major problems that arose then was the tank confrontation. Were you involved in that?
MULLER: Yes, I was. When the Vice President came, he was accompanied by Chip Bohlen, General Clay, and General Howley, who was the first American Commandant. The Berliners were especially beholden to him because he really told the Soviets where to get off, in no uncertain terms, way back; and of course also to General Clay who was something of an icon.
Q: During the blockade he was a hero.
MULLER: During the blockade, yes. And Frank Cash, from the Berlin Task Force, and Karl Mautner also came.
I guess it was out of recommendations that resulted from that visit that President Kennedy decided to send General Clay as his personal representative to Berlin. In the sense that General Clay became kind of an American Super-Commandant, this created, as you can imagine, some difficulty, both in Berlin and Bonn.
It not only created difficulty protocol-wise, which obviously was secondary, but because General Clay, being a very prominent Republican and at one point rumored as Republican Presidential timber, had a very strong and forceful Berlin policy in mind, much more forceful than the President and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Yet the President was caught, as it were, by the recommendations of his special representative in Berlin. General Clay had a very short fuse. I remember one evening hand-carrying a message from Washington to him (he stayed at our official guest house on Wannsee) thinking he would want me to draft a reply. But no, he decided to call the Command Center where there was a scrambler phone, and he told “Dean” in no uncertain terms what he had in mind.