Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George F. Muller
After consultations in Bonn, I arrived in Berlin by car on January 15, 1958. Had I been on the military train, I would have had a long ride because that night we had a “train crisis.” The Soviets had held up one of our trains because of allegedly incorrect documentation. Martin Hillenbrand, the number two in Berlin, was in charge since Mr. Bernard Gufler, the Minister, was on vacation.
Marty had been up all night. As I presented myself, he said, “You've got 3 days to learn all about access to Berlin because our Access Officer, Bill Kelly, has been assigned on TDY to Indonesia.” Kelly was one of the few Indonesian language officers in the Service, he had previously served in Medan and there was some crisis down there.
So, instead of replacing Karl, who was once again extended, I first became the Access Officer. Since the Soviets were frequently harassing us, crises with the trains, Autobahn and air access were practically a daily occurrence in Berlin—or at least a weekly occurrence. My INR background, while useful, had not prepared me for these frequent pin-pricks, nor for the complexities of the access situation.
Q: Well we were at that time moving under increasing Soviet, I guess “pressure,” one would call it. In the Khrushchev days there were ultimatums, I know, and various threats.
Then you took over the Liaison job I gather when Karl Mautner had left.
MULLER: Yes. Kelly came back, having done nothing for 90 days in Indonesia, he told me; his temporary duty to Jakarta had been predicated on the assumption that there would be a Sumatra independence movement, but it folded. The machinations of the Embassy, at the time under the control of an “activist” political appointee, earned us Sukarno's enduring hostility and may well have been responsible for his leading role in the Third World Movement.
I finally took over when Karl left, I believe in June '58. I spent mornings in the U.S. Mission, and afternoons in the U.S. Liaison Office located in the West Berlin Rathaus (as were the British and French Liaison officers) just around the corner from the office of the Governing Mayor who was, of course, Willy Brandt. So I got to know Brandt quite well. With my British and French colleagues, I met regularly with the Berlin Chief of Protocol, as well as with Brandt's Chief of Staff. In addition, I maintained contacts with the District Mayors in the U.S. Sector of Berlin, but my door was open to anybody, including on frequent occasions members of the Berlin legislature. I tried to keep my finger “on the pulse” of Berlin opinion.