Four-Power Negotiations – 1969-72

Photographer walks toward the Allied Control Authority Building.
U.S. Army photographer heads in to the Allied Control Authority Building. Flags of the four occupying nations flap in the wind. A cynical world believed that chances of successful negotiations were as bleak as Berlin’s April month of gray weather.

It was the Prussian State Supreme Court building before World War II, but after the war it was designated as the Allied Control Authority Building.  Just as Berlin was supposed to be ruled jointly by the Allied Kommandantura, so ruined Germany was to be ruled jointly from this site.  Of course, by 1969-71, it was clear that things had not turned out as expected; the building had become a sleepy symbol of obsolete policies.  Only the air traffic control center continued to operate from a corner of the building.  It took on new life in 1969 when the four wartime Allies made it the venue for the Four Power discussions that led to development of the 1971 treaty establishing the new status of Berlin, in particular, of West Berlin.

“The Law East of the Elbe”

In the early Spring of 1970, I dropped by to take a series of photos at the gates of the building, as staff prepared for the arrival of ambassadors of France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Located in the American Sector of Berlin, it was protected by Military Police and city police.  [According to website reader Steve Combs, himself a former Berlin MP, the MP on the right in the photo on this page is Kevin Flanigan, 3rd platoon, 287th MP Company, Berlin Brigade – “the Law East of the Elbe” as they were known.]

Links in the following *.pdf are obsolete, but the photos and text offers some of the flavor of what turned out to be a key piece in the “3-D chess” game being played in Central Europe. To read this *.pdf go to the bottom of the frame and choose either to download it or expand the document to full screen.

Four-Powers-Meet

For folks back home it was not as important at the Vietnam War peace talks, as reported on the Fort Worth, Texas television station’s 10 p.m. news.

Television news script.
WBAP-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.). [News Script: Berlin], item, March 26, 1970, 10:00 p.m.; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1263832/m1/1/: accessed October 19, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.

For more on how the negotiations affected everyday life for Berliners, read Air Corridor Pawns.

story and photos by R. W. Rynerson