20 FEBRUARY 1953, Page 5

A SPECTATOR 9 S NOTEBOOK D R.- REUTER, the Burgomaster of West

Berlin, made a great impression on the various audiences he has addressed in London in the past week. Standing in the very front of the firing-line in the cold war (if cold and fire can co-exist) he inspires exactly the confidence that is needed in that position. His grave, rather heavy, face is full of courage, and it becomes singularly attractive when it lights up as he seasons his necessarily serious talk with a flash of humour. A University Professor and a Social Democrat, he probably does not differ fundamentally in his general political outlook from, shall I say, Dr. Gilbert Murray. Dr. Reuter has said that he did not come to this country to talk about refugees, but when a subject fills the mind it is very difficult to keep it off the lips, and while refugees form the greatest of West Germany's anxieties at the moment that is true most par- ticularly of West Berlin, where the crowds crossing the border are far beyond the power of the municipal authorities to Cope with adequately. The stream may gradually thin down a little, but in West Berlin if one problem is simplified it is only for another to grow more complex. Dr. Reuter has faced them all successfully so far. The inipossible may some day confront him. For anything in the realm of the possible he can be relied on to the last.