Employees with Poor Grammar Affect Your Company Image

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Employees with Poor Grammar Affect Your Company Image”, Online Career Tips, 31 Mar. 2017, Web, http://onlinecareertips.com/2017/03/employees-grammar-company-image/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

I teach a Management 100 class at American Military University called Human Relations. In this class, we talk about some hiring actions and first impressions. In today’s computer-based world, that first impression of a person or company is often online.

Proper grammar shapes that first impression. We would never go to a job interview with our shoes untied. So why would people think poor grammar is not a faux pas, too?

Good Grammar Reveals Company Credibility and Employees’ Learning Capabilities

In my class, I share Kyle Wiens’ Harvard Business Review article, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.”

Wiens is the CEO of iFixit, the world’s largest online repair manual publisher. He is also the founder of Dozuki, which helps companies write their own technical documentation such as paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals.

Wiens is a self-described grammar stickler who hires many writers and software code writers. Anyone applying for a job at one of his companies is required to take a grammar test.

“Good grammar is credibility, especially on the Internet. In blog posts, on Facebook, in emails, and on company websites, your words are all you have,” Wiens says. We represent our employers both on and off duty, he explains. When our social media is a grammatical disaster, it also reflects on the company owner who hired you.

Wiens makes an interesting point: If a 20-year-old person applies for a job and does not know how to use proper grammar, that person’s learning curve and capability make him or her a poor candidate for hiring.

Wiens believes everyone should have learned English grammar in 20 years. He will not hire even great programmers who cannot pass the grammar test. From experience, he has found that they will fail on other tasks, even simple tasks like stocking shelves and labeling parts.

A focus on grammar shows a focus on all tasks, he says.

Writing Well Also Makes A Difference in Hiring Success

I published a book this past January on getting a job in the federal government. Like Wiens, I too focused on the need to make a good first impression in an applicant’s resume. Writing well shows your capabilities and your dependability.

Writing is like learning a foreign language. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

Intelligence As A Career

Looking for a career in the field of Intel?

Check this out:
The Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) Has Released The 2017 Edition Of Their “Intelligence As A Career” Booklet.

Ralph Van Deman and the Birth of Modern American Military Intelligence

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

When the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, the US Army’s intelligence efforts were nearly non-existent.  Early attempts to gather information about foreign armies resulted in the creation of a Military Information Division in 1885.  In 1903, the division transferred from the Adjutant General’s Office to the Office of the Chief of Staff, where it became the Second Division of the General Staff.  However, by 1908, the Second Division had been absorbed by the Third (War College) Division, and the Army’s intelligence functions had been relegated to a committee.  Intelligence activities declined over the next several years due to insufficient personnel and appropriations as well as limited interest or understanding of its importance.  By early 1917, “personnel and appropriations were limited, the powers of the committee were narrow and its accomplishments, though valuable, were necessarily meager.  Such was the situation at the time war was declared.”  But change was coming.

In 1915, Major (later Major General) Ralph Van Deman arrived at the War College.  A native of Delaware, Ohio, he had attended both law and medical schools before accepting an infantry commission in 1891.  Over the next two decades, he gained valuable intelligence experience in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and China.  In Manila, Van Deman established an intelligence organization to conduct terrain analysis, mapping, and counterintelligence.  By the time he arrived at the War College, Van Deman was one of few career military intelligence officers in the Army.  He immediately grasped the implications of the United States’ lack of a military intelligence organization and resolved to reverse the situation.

Van Deman wrote numerous memoranda criticizing the ineffectual nature of the War College’s committee.  He stated, “To call a chair a table does not make it a table—it still remains a chair. And to call the personnel of the War College Division a Military Information Committee does not make it one” [emphasis in original].  His appeals for the creation of a competent organization were essentially ignored.  One week after the US declaration of war, Van Deman pled his case to Major General Hugh Scott, the Chief of Staff, who refused to consider the proposal on the grounds that it would only duplicate British and French efforts.

Persisting, Van Deman enlisted the aid of a female novelist and the Washington DC Chief of Police, both friends of Secretary of War Newton Baker.  Either because of or coincident to these outside interventions, Secretary Baker summoned Van Deman to his office on April 30, 1917, to explain the state of US military intelligence.  Just three days later, on May 3, the War College received an order to create an intelligence organization and detail an officer to “take up the work of military intelligence for the Army.”  Van Deman, of course, was the perfect choice to lead the newly established Military Intelligence Section (MIS).

The MIS experienced rapid growth throughout the war.  The Section was divided into a Positive Branch for intelligence collection, attachés, translations, maps and photographs, and training, and a Negative Branch for all counterintelligence functions.  A Code and Ciphers Section within the MIS became the Army’s first organized signals intelligence unit. Finally, Van Deman initiated the first personnel security investigation and identification card systems within the War Department.

By 1918, the renamed Military Intelligence Division had more than 1,400 military and civilian personnel.  At this time, it moved out from under the War College to a spot as one of four equal divisions on the War Department’s General Staff, a position it has maintained to this day.  In addition to equality on the General Staff, other long-standing consequences of the establishment of the MIS were the recognized need for professional intelligence personnel and the preservation of an intelligence effort even in times of peace.

That the World War I period was a watershed in US Army intelligence history cannot be overstated. No single individual did more to advance Army intelligence than Ralph Van Deman.  In 1988, the MI Corps recognized this when it chose him as one of the initial members of the Hall of Fame.  In 1992, it further memorialized him by naming the East Gate in his honor.  Maj. Gen. Ralph Van Deman is recognized as the Father of American Military Intelligence for his role in establishing the first effective, professional intelligence organization within the Army 100 years ago.

NOTE:  Join the US Army Intelligence Center when it rededicates the Van Deman Gate during the Hall of Fame activities, June 23, 2017, at 1430.

 

Ralph Van Deman

Ralph Van Deman

After the war, Ralph Van Deman, shown here as a Colonel, commanded at the regiment, brigade, and division level.  Promoted to Major General in 1929, he retired later that year but continued to consult in Army intelligence matters until his death in 1952.  (US Army photo)

The Ability to Write Well Is An Asset for Any Career

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R. & Blanton, Doris, “The Ability to Write Well Is An Asset for Any Career”, Online Learning Tips, 7 Mar. 2017, Web, http://onlinelearningtips.com/2017/03/07/write-well-asset-career/

Co-Authored By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Co-Authored By Doris Blanton
Faculty Director, School of Business, American Public University

Writing for various audiences is a skill that takes practice, practice, practice. But writing must also be adapted to the needs of an organization and its intended audience.

Intelligence and Law Enforcement Writing

Have you ever seen a James Bond movie in which he writes a report or summarizes any mission he’s completed? Of course not. Bond is not in the espionage business to convey information, but to execute actions.

Unlike Bond, intelligence agents and analysts must be able to write about an incident with clarity and conciseness. This type of writing must be quickly understood by national decision makers, who must then act on the information provided in the intelligence documents.

Similarly, law enforcement officials and counterintelligence agents must be able to write clearly about an incident because their documents are used in court. Clarity is especially important when incidents that take place in one country must be reported and translated into the language of another country.

Management Writing

Managers have to write assessments of business performance and personnel actions. As most managers learn, when it comes to employee discipline or termination, a strong written history of the employee’s problems provides a human resources department with written proof of wrongdoing. Without this proof, personnel actions are somewhat limited.

If a manager does not take the time to document each employee incident in writing, incidents of wrongdoing can be dismissed as unimportant or non-existent. For dutiful managers, it is critical that documenting all employee incidents become second nature at all times.

On the flip side of personnel management, managers and supervisors must also think about writing award justifications. They need to acknowledge when employees perform above and beyond the job description.

Managers must make time to make these rewards because they inspire other employees to pursue excellence. Managers who fail to acknowledge the positive performances of their employees might discover their high-performing employees looking elsewhere for employment.

Business Writing

In management and business, staffing actions from one level to another must be through the written word. The action must be conveyed in a manner that gets across a specific point.

Managers should develop good writing skills because communication is a key skillset good managers possess.

There is a school of thought that says the more information that is written down, the better the document. That is, the weight of the document reflects how hard you worked on it.

This philosophy of many words on many pages might be fine for middle-level analysts conducting assessments that need to be clearly conveyed. However, a gigantic document with many pages is not useful for an executive-level manager who has 20 other projects to read and respond to in the same day.

Senior leadership needs concise, well-written executive summaries. These summaries must be to the point, reflecting a well-designed synopsis that quickly transmits information. Well-written executive summaries save time, especially in situations with minimal turn-around time for action.

Writing for Internal Job Openings

Suppose there is an opening in your department and there are two equally qualified candidates. But one applicant has a history of writing for various publications within the industry or as a representative of his employer.

The applicant with the greater writing experience will often win the job because she already has displayed a capability to write clearly and concisely and can prove it with her published work.

Employers often seek candidates who are excellent communicators by asking them about their education. A university degree suggests that a candidate has already earned some proficiency as a good writer. In addition, college is a great place to improve your writing without company leaders seeing your mistakes.

Potential Employees Should Have a Writing Track Record

In addition to a degree, job candidates are often asked about any writing projects they have successfully completed or examples of their writing. In this era of the Internet, employers will often do a search to find any writing you have posted. Finding some of your work online can be a decisive factor when the employer chooses which candidate to hire. Although we all believe we can write and clearly express our intentions, we often get bogged down trying to assess and contribute to various daily reports. The biggest asset an employee can possess is the ability to accurately proofread while also respecting an audience or a reader.

Employers tend to subconsciously evaluate an employee’s worth by how the employee writes emails, report analyses or executive summaries. Sadly, many employees are not given the tools to improve their writing for a variety of reasons:

  1. An employer might expect employees to be proficient writers without actually contributing to their writing development.
  2. Some employees might never have received effective or appropriate critiques regarding their writing abilities. They are left to presume that their written documents are fine as submitted because their employers are too busy with other issues.
  3. Employees often are involved in job-related tasks, leaving little time to focus on writing, proofreading and editing skills. Many employers and employees are pressured by job-related deadlines, which further minimizes their time to perfect their writing abilities.

Why Is Writing So Important?

There are people who debunk the notion that writing well is important. They think writing comes naturally and that readers will automatically understand what’s on the printed page.

That is not true. If you cannot express yourself clearly, your reader will not understand you. Writing well is fundamentally important to every career.

Good writing could even get you a pay increase. Your employer will want to know the whys and what-fors in your request. Your case will be stronger if you provide clearly written documentation why you deserve a raise. Writing accurately and concisely – and including specific, logical examples of why you merit the increase – will support your request for a pay raise.

To improve your writing skills, consider contributing to your company’s magazine or newsletter. It’s an opportunity to practice your writing and demonstrate your commitment to your organization.

Finally, writing to communicate to outside stakeholders further highlights to your colleagues that you can clearly express your organization’s position in the marketplace. This practice also will gain external exposure for you and your career.

Places to Publish Your Writing

There are many opportunities for publishing your writing. If you regularly read specific publications, contact the editors of those publications. Send query emails or letters about the possibility of becoming a contributor.

University alumni organizations have publications and often turn to alumni for input. This might be an easy place to start your professional writing.

Similarly, veterans have many outlets for writing, such as RallyPoint, American Legion Magazine, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Association of the US Army Magazine. Each branch of military service has organizations that publish and share ideas. All of these publications provide upwardly moving people with an opportunity to publish their writing.

There are also venues for self-publishing, which have no editors to review and correct your work. Many self-publishing services have controversial content which is often used to gain attention for an author. Some services seek content that encourages search engine optimization (SEO) and clicks from readers to show how many readers visit the site. The biggest and most respectable sites are WordPress, Blogger and Medium.

Being Ready To Write

Writing well can make you a leader within your organization, a critical thinker, an employee worth further development and an overall asset to the company’s bottom line. Isn’t this the type of person you’re striving to be?

About the Authors

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in South Korea, supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 43rd scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.

Dr. Doris Blanton is a faculty director and full-time professor in the School of Business at American Public University. Her research focuses on the retention of adjunct faculty, examining their experience of the online and on-ground adjunct life. Doris mentors her peers, students and professionals through job transitioning and in personal development, highlighting writing, proofreading and editing strategies.

In addition to Dr. Blanton’s professional responsibilities, she has contributed to the creation of various intervention strategies focused on the retention and persistence of new college students, specifically those with zero to 24 credits. She is active with the Roots Church and volunteers with various local non-profits, Volunteers of America and the Snohomish Historical Society. Doris also participates in local back-to-school functions, providing free haircuts, backpacks and school supplies.

Don’t Protect Your Valuable Photos the Way Grandpa Did

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Don’t Protect Your Valuable Photos the Way Grandpa Did”, In Cyber Defense, 7 Mar. 2017, Web, http://incyberdefense.com/news/dont-protect-valuable-photos-way-grandpa/

Commentary By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Today, most people take many more digital photos of family, friends and vacations than previous generations did with film cameras. In fact, the ease of use and the low cost of digital photography consigned Kodak, Fuji and Polaroid cameras and film to the museums of 20th century technology.

For example, Polaroid stopped manufacturing its instant film in 2008, leaving this Waltham, Massachusetts, manufacturer with just 150 employees. Thirty years earlier, Polaroid was an iconic company with a “peak” global employment of nearly 21,000 employees.

Today, lots of people have never heard of Polaroid. But their valuable digital pictures often receive the same poor level of protection that an album or scrapbook full of Polaroid or Kodak prints used to provide – not much.

Many people born in the 1960s and 1970s could never imagine storing pictures on a thumb drive, DVD or even a CD.

In a digital world, we need better protection for our valuable photos and other documents because technology is always changing. The 3.5 disk might have been a nice improvement over a 5.25 floppy disk, but today, many computers don’t even have a disk drive.

Technology Changes Rendered Some Familiar Devices Obsolete

Think of that rapidly deteriorating album of black and white photos your grandfather gave you. The negatives of those pictures disappeared long ago. It might be a good idea to convert those album photographs to JPG files for later use. And those old 35 mm slides you used to project onto a screen at home to bore your neighbors? It’s not easy to find a working projector today, much less a new one.

Some people paid to have their slides transferred to VHS tapes and then they threw away the slides. But it’s hard to play VHS tapes these days.

Just as you should “never put all your eggs in one basket,” you should never store valuable digital files in just one place.

Never Save Digital Files in One Place

If you had a one-of-a-kind item, you would want to protect it. The cost to reconstruct PowerPoint programs or Word documents from a damaged laptop is extremely intensive in terms of man-hours. The cost often exceeds the cost of the laptop.

Yet, it’s surprising how many people save their cherished photos and documents only on their laptops or desktop devices. That computer could become infected with a virus or, worse, ransomware could attack it. If someone steals your laptop, those cherished family photos are gone forever.

Many Security Programs Can Save Your Photos

There are multiple solutions to the issue of saving digital images. Which solution is best for you depends on your situation.

For example, there are many types of software backup programs. Some programs save their files to an off-site cloud server.

Some computer owners save their photos on a thumb drive or on an external hard drive. They can be unplugged and should be stored separately from your computer so a virus or ransomware attack on your device will not affect them. These devices enhance your protection.

Another form of security can be as simple as having a friend or business colleague hold an encrypted hard drive of your data, with you repeating the favor for that person. If one or both laptops are lost by theft or destroyed in a fire, neither of you will lose your data. This is inexpensive security that saves you the cost of a cloud backup.

Federal organizations are working hard to protect the public from cybercrimes, but we also must take some responsibility for our own protection. By taking some extra time to protect your images and other digital files, you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind knowing your files are protected.

The inspiration for this and several future articles came from a meeting at the US Secret Service (USSS), Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF) in Las Vegas. Future articles will discuss concepts and actions to counter ransomware and the experiences of individuals and businesses.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 43rd scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.

Sound Ranging in the Great War

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

Private (later Sergeant) Jesse R. Hinman, a native of Astoria, Oregon, arrived on the Lorraine front after three months at the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) school in Langres, France.  Reaching Mandres on Sunday, March 10, 1918, he was able to watch firsthand the AEF’s 1st Division conduct its first bombardment of the war.  The next day, Hinman’s detachment began its work establishing two forward observation posts, six microphone bases, and a central station all connected by dual lines of communications wire.  Stringing the line was arduous work given the shell-pocked terrain of the area.  Keeping these lines in working order once the German’s launched their Spring Offensive would be even more difficult and hazardous. The detachment’s function, however, was critical to the 1st Division arrayed along the AEF’s sector of the St. Mihiel salient.  Their work was kept highly secret, and the men referred to their unit only by its initials—SRS, Sound Ranging Section.

Hinman was a member of the first SRS to reach the front. By the end of the war, four sections were operational on the American front.  Sound ranging, along with its counterpart flash ranging, was a science new to the battlefield.  Given the static nature of trench warfare over the previous two years, British and French forces had developed and deployed equipment that allowed them to locate enemy guns using sound waves and artillery flashes.  Impressed by the results, General John J. Pershing, commander of the AEF, tasked an officer to study the British and French systems of sound and flash ranging. Simultaneously, the Signal Corps tasked three officers to establish sound and flash ranging companies in the AEF.  The Signal Corps officers and their companies were assigned to Engineer regiments upon reaching France.  However, they operated under the direct tactical command of the AEF G-2.

Each SRS was comprised of a lieutenant, a sergeant, and 39 privates, including linesmen who laid and repaired the communications wires, forward observers on the front lines, and the recorders, computers, and plotters at a Central Station who worked the electrical apparatus.  In simplified terms, the process of locating the position of an enemy gun began with the forward observers stationed on the front lines.  When they heard a significant report by an enemy artillery piece, they pressed a button to activate the recorder at Central Station.  When the sound wave from the report hit a series of six microphones arrayed behind the front line, each microphone sent an electric pulse via communications wire to the recorder.  The recorder documented the exact moments at which the report reached each microphone, similar to the jumps caused by an earthquake on a seismograph.  By plotting the recorded differences in time on a map board, the men at Central Station identified the position of the piece.  Seasoned Sound Rangers could pass the location on to the Chief Intelligence Officer within three to five minutes.  AEF artillerymen could then refine their targeting and conduct a counter barrage to eliminate the enemy’s gun.

As enemy artillery inflicted nearly half of all Allied casualties, the information provided by the Sound Rangers proved to be a significant intelligence source.  In addition to immediately passing on the location of enemy guns, the SRS compiled a daily report for the Artillery Information Service that summarized the class of battery (howitzer or gun), caliber, and probable targets.  Forward observers added their assessments to the report and collected shell fragments, duds, and portions of fuzes for analysis.  The observers’ remarks were critical in many respects.  For example, from their front line posts, observers heard the arrival of German resupply trains.  They also determined that, when the enemy’s band played, new troops were arriving at the front in preparation for an upcoming attack.

The SRS daily reports were compared with information from other intelligence sources, like prisoner-of-war statements, captured documents, and aerial photographs.  As a new science, sound ranging provoked skepticism on the part of many officers who demanded corroboration from other sources, especially aerial photos.  However, sound ranging proved most valuable in locating artillery pieces hidden from visual observation.  In one instance, Sgt. Hinman’s SRS No. 1 had identified the location of a very active enemy battery on the eve of the Battle of St. Mihiel.  Because the information could not be corroborated on an aerial photograph, the sound ranging data was considered an error.  Later it was found that an enemy artillery piece had been hidden in dense woods exactly where the Sound Rangers had indicated.

A post-war study of sound ranging accuracy showed the method could identify the location of an enemy gun within 10-25 meters in ideal weather conditions.  Roughly 80 percent of all battery locations were identified by the Sound Rangers.  Like many new technologies employed during the Great War, sound ranging matured in the postwar period, and by 1927, the function had been transferred from the Engineers to Field Artillery.  The methods continued to be used during World War II, but by that time, sound ranging was being overshadowed by the advent of radar.

Forward observation posts near Forges, France, during World War I.
Forward observers were critical to the effectiveness of sound ranging operations.

 

World War I Counterintelligence Agents Get Their Man – February 1918

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

On August 13, 1917, the US Army’s Military Intelligence Section (later elevated to Division) created the Corps of Intelligence Police (CIP) to protect American forces in France from sabotage and subversion. CIP agents also conducted special investigations, including suspected German espionage activities, throughout the United States.  The CIP had difficulty apprehending the enemy agents involved because they often fled to Mexico.  Several CIP agents were stationed along the US-Mexico border during this period to investigate and apprehend suspected German spies.

Two CIP agents in Nogales, Arizona, Captains Joel A. Lipscomb and Byron S. Butcher, recruited Dr. Paul B. Altendorf to infiltrate German spy rings in Mexico.  Altendorf was an Austrian immigrant to Mexico, where he served as a Colonel in the Mexican army.  Known to the CIP as Operative A-1, Altendorf managed to join the German Secret Service and become linked with several other German spies living in Mexico.

In January 1918, the CIP learned that Altendorf was accompanying one Lothar Witzke from Mexico City to the US border.  Witzke was a 22-year-old former lieutenant in the Germany navy, who alternately went by Harry Waberski, Hugo Olson, and Pablo Davis, to name just a few of his many aliases.  He had long been under CIP surveillance as a suspected German spy and saboteur.  During the trip from Mexico City, Witzke had no suspicion that his companion was an Allied double agent taking note of Witzke’s every move and indiscretion.  At one point, a drunk Witzke let slip bits of information that Altendorf quickly passed on to Capt. Butcher.  Specifically, Altendorf informed the CIP that Witzke’s handlers had sent him back to the US to incite mutiny within the US Army and various labor unions, conduct sabotage, and assassinate American officials.

On or about February 1, 1918, Capt. Butcher apprehended Witzke once he crossed the border at Nogales, and a search of Witzke’s luggage revealed a coded letter and Russian passport. Capt. John Manley, assistant to Herbert Yardley in the Military Intelligence Division’s MI-8 Cryptographic Bureau in Washington, DC, deciphered the letter, revealing Witzke’s German connections. The letter stated: “Strictly Secret! The bearer of this is a subject of the Empire who travels as a Russian under the name of Pablo Waberski. He is a German secret agent.”

While detained at Fort Sam Houston awaiting trial, Witzke was extensively interrogated by CIP agents but refused to provide any details about his contacts, co-conspirators, or alleged espionage.  His trial began in August 1918, and witnesses against him included Dr. Altendorf, Capt. Butcher, Capt. Lipscomb, and Capt. Manley.  Witzke took the stand in his own defense and spun a fantastical tale of how he was simply a down-on-his-luck drifter framed as a German spy.  The Military Commission found Witzke guilty of espionage and sentenced him to death, the only German spy thus sentenced in the US during World War I.  After the war, President Woodrow Wilson commuted his sentence to life in prison, and he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth.  In 1923, however, Witzke was pardoned and released to the German government.

A decade later, during the international Mixed Claims Commission hearings into damages related to the war, several American lawyers revealed Witzke’s role in the sabotage of the Black Tom Island munitions depot in New York Harbor on July 20, 1916. Ostensibly, he had been one of three collaborators who had placed dynamite on several barges loaded with ammunition causing a blast felt as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland.  The explosion lit up the night sky, shattered windows, broke water mains, and peppered the Statue of Liberty with shrapnel.  Seven people were killed.  Although in 1939 the Mixed Claims Commission found Germany complicit in the sabotage, Witzke and his co-conspirators, allegedly responsible for the worst act of terrorism on American soil up to that time, went unpunished.  Additionally, Germany refused to pay the $50 million judgment.

The capture of Witzke and other German spies and saboteurs by the Army’s counterintelligence agents undoubtedly prevented many, but not all, planned sabotage activities during the war.  Such incidents poisoned relations between the US and Germany and introduced suspicions and fear in the minds of the American public.  Americans could no longer assume complete security from enemy acts of terror on US soil, a reminder still valid today.

For more information on the Black Tom Island incident, see Michael Warner’s “The Kaiser Sows Destruction: Protecting the Homeland the First Time Around,” https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol46no1/article02.html#rfn12.

 

Damage to a pier at Black Tom Island caused by German sabotage to prevent American munitions from reaching Germany’s enemies.
(Library of Congress Photo)

Decoded Zimmermann Telegram Sets US on Path to War – January 1917

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

“…we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.”

These words are extracted from the now infamous telegram from Arthur Zimmerman, the German Foreign Secretary, to Heinrich von Eckardt, German Minister to Mexico.  The telegram, sent from Berlin on January 16, 1917, directed Eckardt to propose an alliance between Germany and Mexico to the Mexican president in the event the US formally entered World War I.

World War I, or the Great War as it was then known, had been fomenting in Europe for years, but the final catalyst proved to be the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in June 1914.  Shortly thereafter, Germany declared war successively on Russia, France, Belgium, and Portugal, and the United Kingdom and other European nations quickly declared war on Germany. The war eventually embroiled nations worldwide.  The US steadfastly retained its neutrality for two years. President Woodrow Wilson, re-elected in 1916 on the slogan “He kept us out of war,” resolutely but unsuccessfully pursued a negotiated peace between the two sides.  By early 1917, Germany decided to launch unrestricted U-boat warfare on all ships, neutral or belligerent, in the waters of the war zones. This effort, German planners predicted, would bring England to the brink of economic collapse and thus surrender within months.

Zimmermann knew that the U-boat war would force the US, reluctantly but inexorably, into the war on the side of the Allies.  He believed that if Germany could entice Mexico into a war with the United States, it would divert US attention and ammunition shipments away from the Allies.  On January 18, the telegram reached Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, the German ambassador in Washington, DC, who was then to send it to Eckardt in Mexico.  Zimmermann had audaciously sent the message over the US State Department’s own trans-Atlantic cable, which President Wilson had allowed Germany to use for transmitting communications related to peace negotiations.  Inexplicably, Wilson had allowed those dispatches to be sent in the German code, for which the State Department did not have a codebook.

Unbeknownst to the US, British cryptographers had been intercepting message traffic on the State Department’s telegraph route.  In addition, unbeknownst to both the US and the Germans, those same British code-breakers had cracked the German diplomatic code and immediately set themselves to decoding the Zimmermann Telegram.  Incredulous at its contents, the British debated how best to notify the US, knowing, on one hand, it would bring the US into the war and, on the other, that it would anger the US to know England was reading its dispatches.  To prevent the latter, the British code section waited until Bernstorff sent the message to Eckardt and used that message, slightly altered from the original, to enlighten the US of the brazen German scheme.

The British finally revealed the contents of the telegram to the US on February 23, and a week later, major newspapers around the country published the evidence of the German conspiracy.  Americans reacted with a mix of disbelief and anger.  Rumors that Germany had financed Mexican bandit Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico, in March 1916 had resulted in a comprehensive investigation by the State Department.  The results of that investigation, as well as others into German intrigue in Mexico, were inconclusive, however.  As a result, most Americans initially viewed the telegram as a hoax–surely the Germans were not so foolhardy as to promise to give away part of the United States.

Ultimately, the directives in the Zimmermann Telegram came to naught; the Mexican president chose to remain neutral rather than instigate a war with its northern neighbor.  Undeniably, however, knowledge of the threat of hostile action on American territory shifted public opinion in support of a war most citizens had previously marginalized.  At the same time, Germany had launched the unrestricted submarine warfare it had previously threatened, resulting in the sinking of several US merchant ships in late March.  The Great War, therefore, was no longer just a threat to Europe.  On April 2, 1917, President Wilson requested a declaration of war from Congress, stating, “That [the German government] means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors, the intercepted note to the German Minister at Mexico is eloquent evidence. We accept this challenge of hostile purpose….”  Congress overwhelmingly voted for war and ultimately, American intervention helped turn the tide in favor of the Allies and end the war.

The Zimmermann Telegram (National Archives)

OPSEC Precautions For This Site

Source: http://news.nationalpost.com/arts/movies/jason-bourne-proves-why-computers-are-the-worst-thing-to-happen-to-the-spy-thriller-since-no-more-day-to-day-formalwear

Things to keep in mind when interacting with The Lint Center, particularly when leaving comments or uploading photos:

  1. Defense conditions are classified secret, while force protection conditions are unclassified.
  2. Vulnerability of oconus installations to sabotage or penetration is classified secret if U.S. Intelligence information is made.
  3. The identity of units planned for deployment is confidential until an official announcement of the deployment is made.
  4. General geographic location of units deployed ( I.E. City, Country or Area) is unclassified.
  5. Specific geographic location of units deployed is confidential.
  6. Details of allied military participation in operations are secret.

The Global reach of the World Wide Web requires special precautions to be taken when posting information. The following types of information will not be posted publicly on WarriorLodge.com and will be taken down immediately:

  • Information that is for official use only (FOUO). This type of information would pose an unacceptable risk to the US Military, especially in electronically aggregated form. While records containing FOUO information will normally be marked at the time of their creation, records that do not bare such markings shall be assumed to contain FOUO information.
  • Analysis and recommendations concerning lessons learned which would reveal sensitive military operations, exercises or vulnerabilities.
  • Reference to unclassified information that would reveal sensitive movements of military assets or the location of units, installations, or personnel where uncertainty regarding location is an element of a military plan or program.
  • Personal information including compilations of names or personnel assigned overseas, sensitive, or routinely deployable units.
  • Names, locations, and specific identifying information about family members of military and government employees.
  • Highly technical information that can be used or be adapted for use to design, engineer, product, manufacture, operate, repair, overhaul, or reproduce any military or space equipment or technology concerning such equipment.
  • Unclassified information pertaining to classified programs. The clearance review procedures for unclassified information pertaining to classified programs proposed for posting to a publicly accessible web sites must take into account the likelihoods of classification compilation.

So, let’s review…

  1. Don’t discuss current or future deployment destinations.
  2. Don’t discuss current or future operations or missions.
  3. Don’t discuss current or future dates and times of when service members will be in deployed, in-port or conducting exercises.
  4. Don’t discuss readiness issues and numbers.
  5. Don’t discuss specific training equipment.
  6. Don’t discuss people’s names and billets in conjunction with operations.
  7. Don’t speculate about current or future operations.
  8. Don’t spread rumors about current, future, or past operations or movements.
  9. Don’t assume the enemy is not trying to collect information on you; they are… right now.  Seriously.
  10. Be smart, use your head, and always think OPSEC when using email, phone, chat rooms and message boards.

dia

Operations Security: 1. A systematic, proven process by which a government, organization, or individual can identify, control, and protect generally unclassified information about an operation/activity and, thus, deny or mitigate an adversary’s/competitor’s ability to compromise or interrupt said operation/activity (NSC 1988). 2. OPSEC is a process of identifying critical information and subsequently analyzing friendly actions attendant to military operations and other activities to (a) identify those actions that can be observed by adversary intelligence systems, (b) determine indicators adversary intelligence systems might obtain that could be interpreted or pieced together to derive critical information in time to be useful to adversaries, and select and execute measures that eliminate or reduce to an acceptable level the vulnerabilities of friendly actions to adversary exploitation (DOD JP 1994; JCS 1997).

Operations Security process: An analytical process that involves five components: identification of critical information, analysis of threats, analysis of vulnerabilities, assessment of risks, and application of appropriate countermeasures (NSC 1988).

Source: http://www.ioss.gov/glossary.html#o

Battleground Berlin: The Second Berlin Crisis

By Andrew Ertl
Summer 2016 Jim & Anna Hyonjoo Lint Scholarship Winner
Third prize, 2016 Cold War Essay Contest, John Adams ’71 Center for Military History & Strategic Analysis at the Virginia Military Institute

Many will argue that the Cuban Missile Crisis was the most dangerous event of the Cold War.  However, the 1962 events in Cuba would not have happened if not for those in Berlin in 1961 and thus, were only the second act of a two-part play, the origin of which was Berlin.  This was a performance in which the experienced Soviet Premier tested the young, newly elected American President, a pas de deux in which each expressed the willingness to go to the nuclear brink.  Both found themselves grappling for dominance in an increasingly bipolar world and were pushed in different directions by aids and allies alike.  More famously, the Second Berlin Crisis resulted in the erection and physical representation of the ‘Iron Curtain’: the Berlin Wall.

Following the conclusion of World War II in Europe, the Allies agreed to occupy and divide Germany as well as Berlin into four occupation zones (American, British, French, and Soviet).  The three capitalist zones were in the western two-thirds of occupied Germany and the Soviet one was in the eastern third.  Freedom of movement from the Western zones to and from Berlin and within Berlin itself was guaranteed.  These agreements were codified in the Potsdam Agreement on September 2, 1945.

Lying 110 miles inside the Soviet occupation zone, Berlin offered the Western Allies a potential base from which to undermine communism and advance capitalism. A prison state may have been forming, but in Berlin “there was a prison state with an open door.”[1] Nevertheless, the Soviet government did not consider the provisions of the Potsdam Agreement to be permanent.  Before a group of German communists, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin revealed his plan to undermine the position of the West and within a year or two they would have to withdraw.[2]

Before the hammer and sickle flew over the Reichstag, communist German exile Walter Ulbricht was inserted into Berlin by the Red Army with orders to begin slowly building socialism.  Because of his “unyielding, uncollaborative, Stalinist style of ruling,”[3] even German communists disliked him.  Ulbricht reminded them of another German leader, if not “as murderous or as belligerent as Hitler but certainly as brutal toward his own people.”[4]  In the Eastern zone, Communist red was replacing Nazi brown.

From the founding of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1949 to August 13, 1961, 2.8 million or 1/6 of the population fled,[5] the vast majority through West Berlin’s open door.[6]  Between September 1939 and May 1945, 1/12 of the German population died as a result of the Second World War.[7]  Proportionally then, the East German refugee crisis took away twice as much manpower from the GDR as Nazi Germany lost in World War II.  As one GDR Politburo member put it, the refugee crisis was “a critique with feet.”[8]

Amongst a plethora of ill-advised, socialist-inspired reforms, Ulbricht made heavy industry the backbone of the East German economy.  One repercussion of this decision was that in the ensuing refugee crisis, the GDR suffered more from a lack of manpower than an economy more focused on the production of consumer goods.  Allowed by Berlin’s special status, some 50,000 East Berliners (Grenzgägner) worked in capitalist West Berlin. [9]  The problem for the GDR wasn’t just that the Grenzgägner had better access to higher quality and more diversified consumer goods.  Nor was it that with their higher wages they were emptying out and thereby worsening an already bleak consumer market in the GDR.  Grenzgägner were a physical embodiment of the greater opportunities to be found outside socialism.  East Germans weren’t buying what Ulbricht was selling.

As early as 1952, Ulbricht had been seeking Soviet permission to end freedom of movement between the two Berlins in order to solve the refugee problem.[10]  Each time he was told that the better, more sustainable solution was to improve East German’s quality of life.  But that would have meant curtailing the size and scope of Ulbricht’s plans.  Due to the GDR’s position as the westernmost country of the Soviet bloc, he argued that it needed to be more faithful to the ideals of socialism.[11]

John Lewis Gaddis argues that during the Cold War, the superpowers “attached their own reputations to their respective clients…(and) fell into the habit of letting their German allies determine their German interests, and hence their German policies.”[12]  Despite his troublesome ally, the new Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev did have a card to play: West Berlin and Western access rights.  He intentionally raised tensions to change the political environment in order to rectify the West Berlin problem and in doing, he initiated the Second Berlin Crisis.

Before a group of Polish communists on November 10, 1958, Khrushchev declared:

The time has obviously arrived for the signatories of the Potsdam Agreement to give up the remnants of the occupation regime in Berlin and thereby make it possible to create a normal situation in the capital of the German Democratic Republic.[13]

The Western powers would have six months to negotiate a peace treaty with the GDR.  After six months, whether an agreement was reached or not, the USSR would then sign its own peace treaty with the GDR, granting full sovereign over East German territory—to include access rights into and out of Berlin unless superseded by any previous agreement the West might reach with the GDR—to East Germany.  West Berlin was to become a free city.  It truly was an ultimatum: why would the GDR reaffirm Western access rights it detested knowing it would soon be given sovereignty over them?  Khrushchev’s diktat was designed to get the Western powers out of West Berlin and was received rudely in the West.  US President Dwight Eisenhower didn’t even officially reply until March 1959 but by then the four powers had agreed to meet in Geneva to settle differences.  Khrushchev’s ultimatum had thus, passed without result.

To sooth tensions, Eisenhower invited Khrushchev to visit the United States from September 5-27 where he met everyone from politicians to entertainers.  Such was the spirit of the trip that Khrushchev invited Eisenhower and his family to tour the Soviet Union.  It was agreed that the four powers would meet again, this time in Paris the following May.  A surface-to-air missile, downed spy plane, and a captured American pilot changed that.

On May 1, 1960, American pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over the USSR. On the first day of the Paris conference, Khrushchev warned Eisenhower, “Do not fly over the Soviet Union or the socialist countries.  If you don’t know where our borders are, we will show you.”[14]  He also demanded an apology.  While saying that the shoot down was an unfortunate incident and that he had already suspended all similar flights, Eisenhower would not apologize.  Khrushchev then withdrew from the conference.  He decided it would be better to wait to negotiate with the next American President[15] and Senator John F. Kennedy was leading in the polls.  But for Ulbricht and his fiefdom, “time was running out, along with the refugees.”[16]

On January 20, 1961, the youngest American President took the reins from the then oldest.  In his inaugural address, Kennedy declared the United States was prepared to:

Pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty….let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.[17]

His tough, but measured words were based on a misinterpretation of comments Khrushchev had made at a gathering of old communists on January 10.  Despite the rhetoric, Kennedy hinted at his desire for a meeting with Khrushchev and the Soviet Premier sent him a letter confirming their mutual desire.  Kennedy—thinking it imprudent to meet with Khrushchev before meeting with leaders of allied nations—made the mistake of waiting ten weeks to reply to Khrushchev. Khrushchev, a vain man—expected Kennedy to disregard the intricacies of diplomatic protocol—was insulted and now it was he who was slow to respond to Kennedy.

On April 17, Kennedy’s inexperience was highlighted further by the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.  Although the invasion plans began in the Eisenhower administration, Kennedy did not—at that time—show the backbone to cancel a plan he was uneasy about nor did he make the necessary changes to improve its success.  With disappointment, former Secretary of State and then Kennedy adviser Dean Acheson wrote “The European view was that they were watching a gifted young amateur practice with a boomerang, when they saw, to their horror, that he had knocked himself out.”[18]  Five days earlier, the USSR had received another international relations boon: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth.  For Khrushchev—whose birthday was coincidentally April 17—the events of April 12 and 17 were like birthday presents.  Feeling the momentum of such events,[19] he was now willing to meet with Kennedy and Vienna would host.

Before the Vienna summit, each side was trying to mark its territory through diplomatic shadow boxing.  Khrushchev met with US Ambassador to the USSR Llewellyn Thompson and tried to impress upon him that “Berlin was really of little importance to either America or the Soviet Union, so why should they get so worked up about changing the city’s status?”[20]  Khrushchev was trying out a similar line used by Stalin at Yalta.  And wasn’t it Lenin who said, ‘Whoever has Berlin has Germany?’

Meanwhile, Kennedy briefly consulted allied leaders in London and Paris on how best to deal with Khrushchev.  He shared with longtime aid Kenneth O’Donnell his views on Berlin:

You can’t blame Khrushchev for being sore about that…We didn’t cause the disunity in Germany.  We aren’t really responsible for the four-power occupation of Berlin, a mistake neither the Russians nor we should have agreed to in the first place.[21]

Kennedy was preparing to bend on US policy where every President before him stood firm.  In Paris, Kennedy asked French President Charles de Gaulle when and why he should use force over Berlin:

If Mr. Khrushchev signs a treaty with the GDR, this in itself is no reason for a military retaliation on our part.  If the GDR starts stamping travel documents, this is not, per se, a cause for military action either.  In what way, therefore, at what moment, shall we bring our pressure to bear?[22]

De Gaulle’s advice was to “make sure that Khrushchev believes you are a man who will fight.”[23]  Kennedy was prepared to be pragmatic while Khrushchev was planning to intimidate the “boy in short pants.”[24]  A British diplomat voiced the concern of many, “We hope the lad will be able to get out of the bear cage without being too badly mauled.”[25]

The first day of the summit was unproductive.  Kennedy attempted to explain how previous wars began over miscalculations at which point Khrushchev erupted and accused him of asking the Soviet Union “to sit like a schoolboy with his hands on his desk,”[26] charging that “the United States seems to regard Soviet defense of its vital interests as miscalculation.”[27]

Trying to find common ground, Kennedy stated “We regard the present balance of power between the Sino-Soviet forces and the forces of the United States and Western Europe as being more or less in balance.”[28]  After stroking the Soviet Premier’s ego, he then suggested the West should stay in its sphere of influence and that the Soviet Union do likewise so as to avoid upsetting the balance of power.[29] Having made recent gains in the Third World, Khrushchev was not interested in cutting the USSR off from part of its growing power base.

After further unproductive exchanges, the Soviet Premier took the initiative:

The USSR does not wish any change; it merely wants to formalize the situation which has resulted from World War II…East Germany is an ally of the socialist countries and this should be recognized as a fait accompli.  East Germany has new demarcation lines and these lines should become borders…The position of the GDR should be normalized and her sovereignty ensured.  To do all this it is necessary to eliminate the occupation rights in West Berlin.  No such rights should exist there.[30]

Not mentioning the word, Kennedy was trying to avoid any miscalculation with his response:

The signing of a peace treaty is not a belligerent act…However a peace treaty denying us our contractual rights is a belligerent act.  The matter of a peace treaty with East Germany is a matter for Mr. Khrushchev’s judgment and is not a belligerent act.  What is a belligerent act is transfer of our rights to East Germany.[31]

Khrushchev gave a hypothetical example:

If you insisted on US rights after the signing of a peace treaty and if the borders of the GDR—land, air, or sea borders—were violated, they would be defended…Force would be met with force…If the US wanted war, that was its problem.[32]

Taken aback by Khrushchev’s intransigence and gritting his teeth, Kennedy replied, “It will be a cold winter.”[33]

One member of Kennedy’s entourage compared the mood on the flight back to the United States as “riding with the losing baseball team after the World Series.  Nobody said very much.”[34]  One American diplomat reasoned that the summit had been:

the golden opportunity for him to be charming, to have Jackie charm Khrushchev, and then have Kennedy come in and say, ‘Now look, I want to say this perfectly straight.  Get your bloody hands off Berlin or we’ll destroy you.’[35]

Kennedy later told New York Times writer James Reston that the Vienna summit had been the “roughest thing in my life” and that Khrushchev “just beat the hell out of me.”[36]  He reasoned, “The son of a bitch has got to see me move.”[37]

In East Germany, post-Vienna momentum was making a peace treaty between the USSR and GDR seem more likely.  On June 15, responding to a reporter’s question about where the boundaries in Berlin of a post-peace treaty GDR would be, Ulbricht answered oddly, “No one has the intention of building a wall.”[38]  That he would mention the word wall when the reporter did not ask about one implied that a wall was at least under consideration.  According to historian Hope Harrison, Ulbricht may have:

deliberately made the comments about the wall knowing that this would stimulate panic in the GDR and accelerate the exodus.  Khrushchev would then feel compelled to finally acquiesce in closing the border and signing a separate peace treaty.[39]

Torschlusspanik—the increasing anxiety of East Germans over the decision to leave now before it was too late—was rising.

In an Oval Office address on July 25, Kennedy stated the case for West Berlin:

West Berlin…is more than a showcase of liberty, a symbol, an island of freedom in a communist sea.  It is even more than a link with the Free World, a beacon of hope behind the Iron Curtain, an escape hatch for refugees.  West Berlin is all of that.  But above all it has now become—as never before—the great testing place of Western courage and will, a focal point where our solemn commitments stretching back over the years since 1946, and Soviet ambitions now meet in basic confrontation.  The United States is there; the United Kingdom and France are there; the pledge of NATO is there—and the people of Berlin are there.  It is as secure, in that sense, as the rest of us—for we cannot separate its safety from our own… And if there is one path above all others to war, it is the path of weakness and disunity.[40]

His words weren’t only meant to galvanize American public opinion though.  By mentioning ‘West Berlin’ 17 times, Kennedy was sending a message to Khrushchev: Do what you must in East Berlin in order to stabilize East Germany but don’t touch Western access rights or West Berlin.

This logic had support elsewhere.  On a Sunday television show July 30, Senator William Fulbright and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee offered his opinion:

The truth of the matter is, I think, the Russians have the power to close it in any case.  Next week, if they chose to close their borders, they could, without violating any treaty.  I don’t understand why the East Germans don’t close their border because I think they have a right to close it.[41]

Fulbright misspoke when he said a closure would have been legal.  But he, like Kennedy, was being pragmatic.  Even Khrushchev remarked, “Fulbright is a smart man, he does not want war.”[42]

As Kennedy saw it:

Khrushchev is losing East Germany.  He cannot let that happen.  If East Germany goes, so will Poland and all of Eastern Europe.  He will have to do something to stop the flow of refugees.  Perhaps a wall.  And we won’t be able to prevent it.  I can hold the Alliance together to defend West Berlin, but I cannot act to keep East Berlin open.[43]

We now know that the decision to erect the barrier that became the Berlin Wall was made in July.[44]  However, Ulbricht was told to wait but surreptitiously “prepare everything for a future contingency.”[45]  Ulbricht tasked GDR Party Security Secretary and his protégé, Eric Honecker with acquiring the necessary materials and organizing construction teams.  To avoid suspicion, the building materials were acquired using multiple East German purchasers who in turn ordered from multiple businesses; primarily in West Germany and the UK.  Lenin’s prediction that

‘The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them’ was coming true.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, August 13, East German police (Volkspolizei, Vopos) formed human chains, blocking all of the East-West Berlin crossing points.  Barbed wire and other entanglements were soon in place.  Freedom of movement inside Berlin ended for East Berliners.  US Chief of Mission of West Berlin, Allan Lightner Jr., cabled an understatement of understatements to Washington, “There seems to be something going on in East Berlin.”[46]  Despite diplomatic protests, the Western powers did nothing of any real significance.  A radio station in East Berlin repeated the joke, “Did you hear that [West Berlin Mayor] Brandt called the allies for help?  Yes, I heard, but the allies didn’t.”[47]

While he couldn’t express it in public, in private, President Kennedy was relieved:[48]

It’s not a very nice solution, but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.  Why would Khrushchev put up a wall if he really intended to seize West Berlin?  There wouldn’t be any need of a wall if he occupied the whole city.  This is his way out of his predicament.[49]

In public, Kennedy needed to reassure the American people and more importantly, his allies.  He decided to send the hero of the Berlin Blockade—and registered Republican—Lucius Clay to Berlin as his personal representative on August 30.  Although Clay had no formal powers, he reported to no one other than the President.

Though the GDR stopped its refugee crisis, it still had another problem: it was unrecognized by most of the international community.  Volkspolizei began pulling over Western vehicles on the autobahn connecting West Germany to West Berlin demanding to see motorists’ identification.  Complying would lend—at least—a modicum of recognition to the East German state, thereby setting a legal precedent from which to build upon.  The standard operating procedure was, therefore to refuse and request to a Soviet official to intercede.  However, if stopped between West Germany and West Berlin, it often took quite some time before a Soviet official could arrive and thus, these stops were—aside from infringing on Western access rights—a considerable nuisance.  Amongst Clay’s first actions was to send US troops down the autobahn leading to and from West Berlin in random intervals to demonstrate an American presence while simultaneously asserting Western access rights.  If a Western vehicle stopped by Volkspolizei was spotted, the courtesy patrols—as they were known—would escort that vehicle to its intended destination.  Besides helping travelers, the courtesy patrols also served to maintain Western refusal to recognize the GDR.  One State Department cable read, “A problem that had vexed U.S. officials was settled by a simple action, and one can only wonder why it had not been taken before.”[50]

The Berlin Wall wasn’t really a wall on August 13, 1961. On August 17 though, brick and motor began replacing barbed wire section by section.  Walter Ulbricht declared that no one should approach within 100 meters on either side or they risked being shot.  He referred to these 100-meter exclusion zones as Todesstreifen (death strips).  Clay organized American soldiers who would drive along the western Todesstreifen in armored vehicles, again asserting Western rights and resolve.

The Soviets wanted predictable responses.  On August 9—four days before the border closure—a hero from the Battle of Berlin and recently retired Soviet Marshal, Ivan Konev was sent to East Berlin to ensure that nothing unpredictable occurred.  Clay’s modus operandi was to be unpredictable since he reasoned the Soviets would not allow the East Germans to risk an armed confrontation requiring Soviet assistance.  Such a confrontation would have revealed the GDR as a Soviet puppet state, not worthy of international recognition.  While Clay was becoming a local celebrity in West Berlin, in Washington his antics were unpopular, being deemed too provocative.  Following an incident in which he risked another provocation in a West Berlin suburb named Steinstücken, Clay cabled to Kennedy “I am not afraid of escalation.”[51]  Responding to criticism within the Kennedy administration—though not from the President himself—Clay argued “I can be of no real service if it is deemed wise to be extremely cautious in Berlin.”[52]  He offered to resign on October 18.

On October 22, Allan Lightner Jr. and his wife drove up to the Volkspolizei guard post at Checkpoint Charlie (the primary intra-Berlin checkpoint) and were promptly asked for identification.  Lightner refused and demanded to see a Soviet representative.  While waiting, he used his car phone to notify Lucius Clay of the situation.  After 45 minutes and no Soviet representative had appeared, Lightner apologized to the guards and drove off slowly towards East Berlin before being stopped a second time and surrounded by a larger group of Vopos.  By now, two squads of American soldiers were assembled at the American side of Checkpoint Charlie and marched to Lightner’s assistance.  Outgunned, the Vopos watched as Lightner and his escort went into East Berlin.  In order to drive home his point, Lightner went through Checkpoint Charlie two more times before a Soviet representative appeared.  The Soviet official apologized for the East German behavior but also criticized the American response.[53]  The following day, the GDR announced a new regulation whereby every person crossing into and departing East Berlin would have their identification checked except Western military personnel in uniform.

On October 25, Clay sent forward a probe of two American soldiers dressed in civilian clothes and as expected, they were stopped.  American diplomat Howard Trivers was on hand for such a situation and duly summoned a Soviet official.  This time, however, the Soviet official replied that the Americans must comply with GDR regulations.  Clay then ordered ten American tanks to park on the West Berlin side of Checkpoint Charlie while a squad of US soldiers escorted the car through.  The Soviet official looked at Trivers and said, “We have tanks too.”[54]

More than half of the US tanks were equipped with bulldozer blades.  Konev worried that if the Americans decided to knock down the wall, the East Germans might shoot.  He resolved to prevent this and assembled ten Soviet tanks on the East Berlin side of Checkpoint Charlie.  Before they arrived, the order was given for the Soviet tank men to cover their insignias with mud and dress in all black uniforms in order to conceal their identity, though it was hardly in doubt.  East German tanks (or troops of any kind) in East or West Berlin would have violated the Potsdam Agreement. The tanks were now facing one another only 100 meters apart.

A short time later, Kennedy telephoned Clay who reported to his boss:

Clay:        What we’ve done is prove that the Russians are still in charge.

Kennedy: Well, that’s all right.  Don’t lose your nerves.

Clay:        Mr. President, we’re not worried about losing our nerves over here.  What we’re worried about is whether people in Washington are losing theirs.

Kennedy: [Possibly with Clay’s resignation letter in mind—Kennedy had not responded] I’ve got a lot of people here that have, but I haven’t.[55]

After sixteen hours, the Soviet tanks were ordered to pull back.  Shortly thereafter, the Americans matched their Soviet counterparts.  The ‘meeting of the tanks’ was the only time in the Cold War in which American and Soviet armor confronted one another at point-blank range.

We now know that the Soviets were extremely worried by Ulbricht’s escalatory measures and the American responses to those measures.  Khrushchev ordered Konev, who was—although unknown publicly—in charge of all Soviet and East German forces in Berlin, “Not one shot without permission from Moscow.”[56]  The whole purpose of Ulbricht’s escalation was to achieve international recognition for the GDR.  That the Soviets intervened showed that they didn’t fully trust the decision-making apparatus of their East German ally.  Ulbricht’s plans for international recognition would be set back by a decade.

At the heart of the ‘German Question’ was Berlin; a city that during the Cold War became a physical and psychological frontline between two ideologically opposed superpowers.  While the actions taken by the GDR on August 13, 1961 were illegal, it was an illegality that the West could live with; European stability was the common ground upon which Kennedy and Khrushchev stood.  The Berlin Wall ended the East German refugee crisis but, to paraphrase Khrushchev, the game continued.[57]  On September 3, 1971 the four Allied powers signed the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin.  That agreement paved the way for the bilateral Basic Treaty, signed between West and East Germany on December 21, 1972 which allowed for mutual diplomatic recognition of one another and by extension, the rest of the world.  When asked when the wall might be removed, Khrushchev told West German Ambassador to the USSR Hans Kroll, “The wall will disappear again someday, but only when the reasons for its construction disappear.”[58]  No one knew it at the time, but after the signing of the Basic Treaty, the Berlin Wall only had 17 more years to live.  But that is another story.

 

Works Cited

Békés, Csaba.  Conversation.  3 October 2015.

Brinkley, Douglas. Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years 1953-1971. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1994.

“For West Berlin, lying exposed”: JFKL, Radio and Television Report to the American People on the Berlin Crisis, President Kennedy, The White House. July 25, 1961. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/003POF03BerlinCrisis07251961.htm.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1959-1963. vol. XIV. U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs. 1991.

Gaddis, John Lewis. We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1997.

Harrison, Hope. Driving the Soviets Up the Wall. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2003.

Kempe, Frederick. Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth. New York: Berkley Books. 2011.

Miller, Roger. To Save a City: The Berlin Airlift, 1948-1949. College Station: Texas A&M University Press. 2008.

“News Conference Remarks by Chairman Ulbricht Spelling Out the Consequences of Creating a ‘Free City’ of West Berlin, 15 June 1961.” Documents on Germany, 1944-1985. U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs. 1985.

‪“Notes of a Conference among Marshal Zhukov, General Clay, and General Weeks on Surface and Air Access to Berlin.” 29 June 1945.

“N. S. Khurshchev’s Speech at the Soviet-Polish Friendship Meeting (November 10, 1958).” Embree, ed., The Soviet Union and the German Question.

O’Donnell, Kenneth, Powers, David, and Joe McCarthy. Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. New York: Little Brown & Co. 1972.

Smyser, W. R. Kennedy and the Berlin Wall. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2010.

Sokolowski, John A., and Catherine M. Burns. Modeling and Simulations for Analyzing Global Events. Hoboken: Wiley. 2009.

Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 1994.

Those who had worked: Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training. Interview with Kempton B. Jenkins, Foreign Affairs OH. Interview conducted February 23, 1995 (copyright 1998 ADST). Box: 1 Fold: 34 Jenkins, Kempton B. (1951-1980). http://www.library.georgetown.edu/dept/speccoll/cl999.htm.

Wirtschaft und Statistik October 1956, Journal published by Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland. (German government Statistical Office).

 

Footnotes

[1] Csaba Békés.  Conversation.  3 October 2015.

[2] Roger Miller, To Save a City: The Berlin Airlift, 1948-1949 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008), 13.

[3] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 23.

[4] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 40.

[5] Frederick Kempe, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Berlin 1961 (New York: Berkley Books, 2011), XIX.

[6] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 99.

[7] Wirtschaft und Statistik October 1956, Journal published by Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland. (German government Statistical Office).

[8] Ibid., 73.

[9] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 100.

[10] Ibid., 169.

[11] Ibid., 76.

[12] John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 150.

[13] “N. S. Khurshchev’s Speech at the Soviet-Polish Friendship Meeting (November 10, 1958),” in Embree, ed., The Soviet Union and the German Question, 18.

[14] John A. Sokolowski and Catherine M. Burns, Modeling and Simulations for Analyzing Global Events (Hoboken: Wiley, 2009), 182.

[15] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 21.

[16] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 172.

[17] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 23.

[18] Douglas Brinkley, Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years 1953-1971 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 127.

[19] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 167.

[20] Frederick Kempe, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Berlin 1961 (New York: Berkley Books, 2011), 201.

[21] Kenneth O’Donnell, David Powers, and Joe McCarthy, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (New York: Little Brown & Co., 1972), 299-300.

[22] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 175.

[23] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 62.

[24] William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994), 485.

[25] Kenneth O’Donnell, David Powers, and Joe McCarthy, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (New York: Little Brown & Co., 1972), 294.

[26] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 65.

[27] Ibid., 66.

[28] Ibid., 66.

[29] Ibid., 67.

[30] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 176.

[31] Ibid.,177.

[32] Ibid., 177.

[33] Ibid., 177.

[34] Frederick Kempe, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Berlin 1961 (New York: Berkley Books, 2011), 258.

[35] Those who had worked: Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Interview with Kempton B. Jenkins, Foreign Affairs OH. Interview conducted February 23, 1995 (copyright 1998 ADST), Box: 1 Fold: 34 Jenkins, Kempton B. (1951-1980): http://www.library.georgetown.edu/dept/speccoll/cl999.htm.

[36] William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994), 495.

[37] Ibid., 766.

[38] “News Conference Remarks by Chairman Ulbricht Spelling Out the Consequences of Creating a ‘Free City’ of West Berlin, 15 June 1961,” Documents on Germany, 1944-1985, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, 1985, 737.

[39] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 180.

[40] “For West Berlin, lying exposed”: JFKL, Radio and Television Report to the American People on the Berlin Crisis, President Kennedy, The White House, July 25, 1961: http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/003POF03BerlinCrisis07251961.htm.

[41] Frederick Kempe, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Berlin 1961 (New York: Berkley Books, 2011), 315-16.

[42] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 192.

[43] Frederick Kempe, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Berlin 1961 (New York: Berkley Books, 2011), 294.

[44] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 186.

[45] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 55.

[46] Frederick Kempe, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Berlin 1961 (New York: Berkley Books, 2011), 351.

[47] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 113.

[48] Frederick Kempe, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Berlin 1961 (New York: Berkley Books, 2011), 383.

[49] Hope Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 207.

[50] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 132.

[51] Ibid., 131.

[52] Ibid., 133.

[53] Foreign Relations of the United States, 1959-1963, vol. XIV, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, 1991, 524.

[54] Ibid., 524.

[55] W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2010), 140.

[56] Ibid., 99.

[57] Ibid., 165.

[58] Frederick Kempe, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth: Berlin 1961 (New York: Berkley Books, 2011), 294.